“I love my job; it is demanding, but it is rewarding to help students find a place in the IT world. Working with students and seeing their development is fulfilling. Each student has different learning skills and techniques. Observing how students find their interests at the end of the four-year IT degree programme is gratifying. Also, the cultural mix creates a rich atmosphere in the classroom; virtual teaching is boring,” Juutilainen said.
As head of the international IT degree programme at Xamk, the task is enormous. Not only is Juutilainen planning and developing the IT curriculum, but he is also a principal lecturer responsible for multiple networking and information security course modules.
“As an IT professional, I have to keep updated with the rapid changes in technology and offer students the best possible option. It is difficult to predict the changes in technology. I revise curriculum topics to meet the work demands in the IT field based on the changing needs and trends,” Juutilainen said.
Under the stewardship of Juutilainen, the engineering degree at Xamk is one of the most demanded programmes.
“The IT degree at Xamk is popular because it is an international programme, and the tuition fees are competitive compared to other institutions. The applications to the IT degree programme continue to increase annually. A significant number of the applicants are from Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, Russia, and Eastern European countries. The students are the ambassadors of Xamk; students are satisfied with the course offerings of the IT degree programme and are spreading the word. Also, the Finnish educational system is one of the best in the world,” Juutilainen said.
Acknowledging that the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences is the closest competitor of Xamk, Juutilainen said: “Based on Finland’s higher education system, Xamk is doing something correctly. Xamk has consistently ranked at the top of the universities of applied sciences in Finland.”
Juutilainen added: “The location of the Mikkeli campus is another advantage for Xamk. While the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and Aalto University also offer IT degree programmes, the cost of living in the metropolitan area is expensive compared to the Mikkeli area; cheaper costs and location factors are benefits for students.”
Matching student skills
Further, Juutilainen said, students enrolled in the IT programme at Xamk could select courses to match their interests. “The IT degree programme includes core foundational courses with a certain level of flexibility to support students on an individual basis in terms of training. We do not expect students to have an IT background when enrolling; we (tutors) are here to teach. Similarly, like with any other degree, some students have encountered challenges during their studies, but additional coaching and training help. Some students perform better during the internship; the study path is lengthy, each student is different,” Juutilainen said.
However, Juutilainen said that students should possess a keen interest in IT to succeed in the programme. “The IT degree programme is comprehensive. Students acquire a compact set of skill sets in a state-of-the-art environment in preparation for the demands of working life. At Xamk, we expect all IT students to secure jobs during internships or upon graduating. Engineering jobs are respected and well-paid, and the demand for IT professionals is increasing daily. IT is the future, “Juutilainen said.
Author: Anika Harju is a former award-winning journalist, IT student, and a student ambassador at Xamk.