The agreement, which will see European students attending IPU from first semester 2019, sees the Finnish-based organisation increase its partnerships to institutions in seven countries, with New Zealand its first non-Asian destination.
“It’s very European but still different”
“When we met students or professionals in international relations, they were asking when Asia Exchange was going to have its first non-Asian partner,” said Harri Suominen, managing director of Asia Exchange.
“Then we also realised that we shouldn’t be stuck with only Asia if there’s a good opportunity for us.”
Suominen told The PIE News New Zealand had been on his radar after visiting the country in 2011 on his honeymoon, and the company had been exploring opportunities in the Pacific region for several years. But price restrictions had prevented plans from progressing until now.
“For many years it was just a dream, because we knew there were high tuition fees, and Asia Exchange’s approach has always been that we want to provide as affordable programs as possible,” he said.
The choice of New Zealand, however, came after it became clear other opportunities were not feasible. International coordinator Elisa Kemppainen said the destination provided European students with a familiar, but different, setting.
“The culture there is so amazing: friendly people, it’s super safe, and… it’s really comfortable [as] English is the first language,” she told The PIE.
“It’s very European but still different.”
Although the expansion takes the company outside of Asia, it will use the ‘Asia Exchange Plus’ brand, Suominen added.
Asia Exchange celebrated its tenth anniversary in November 2017, and its founders also helped create an organisation to increase the number of international students in Finland.