Mr. David Hoffman' s Academic dissertation 17.11.2007

Hoffman, D. 2007. The Career Potential of Migrant Scholars in Finnish Higher Education: Emerging Perspectives and Dynamics. Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research, Jyväskylä 2007, ISSN: 0075-4625; 318; ISBN: 978-951-39-2956-5.



This analysis considers employment in the Finnish university system from the perspective of migrant academic personnel. The research questions focus on the relationship between the perceptions and experiences of migrant scholars, the nature of their mobility in particular academic fields and distinctions which can be made regarding migrant academics with respect to the shifting demographic patterns of Europe, in general, and Finland in particular.

The topic of migration; especially of highly skilled personnel, is much discussed within an aging, culturally homogenous Finnish population. However, discussion has taken place in the absence of meaningful statistics about migrant scholars. The missing link in policy discussions is the conceptual articulation that would underlie meaningful statistics and empirical analysis focusing on the relationship between migration and university employment.

The qualitative studies comprising this dissertation include a multiple case study and biographically-based methods. The studies establish six types of academic mobility; three of which are well established and three emerging patterns which highlight migration dynamics. This analysis links academic mobility patterns to career potential in different fields of study, mission areas and career stages. A general analysis of the characteristics of migrant scholars in Finnish universities is suggested; as is an indication of groups who may be missing. The perception and experiences of migrant scholars are contextualized with regard firstly, to the contingency which characterizes the presence of many migrant scholars in Finland. Secondly, these accounts underline the nature of the discussion which surrounds migrants in general and the consequences of the lack of conceptual development that characterizes migration-related topics in Finland. The most significant aspect of this analysis concerns possible stratification, in an educational system usually distinguished by absence of stratification. This remains hidden because the ascriptive characteristics of national origin, ethnicity and skin color are treated differently than gender or age in both discussion of and statistics on higher education employment. The lack of research, policy or practice which accounts for the perspective of migrant scholars exacerbates a lack of awareness regarding a potentially problematic situation. Specifically, the nature of equity that has characterized Nordic educational systems in the past is challenged by a population that is changing more rapidly than conceptual discussions of equity and participation practices in higher education. This dissertation establishes the theoretical coordinates of academic mobility patterns and illuminates career pattern variation within Finnish universities, as well as providing contrast to countries faced with similar circumstances.

The challenge facing higher education stakeholders concerns approaching this situation in a way that preserves the integrity of individuals, society and institutions like higher education.

Key words: higher education, migration, scientific personnel, academic mobility, Finland