European Commission along with its member states are targeting to attract and retain an increasing number of international students. Much of the earlier focus has been in what happens within the higher education context or in the public policy sphere while less attention is targeted on the communicative practices and how they (re)produce and position international students in the society. Communication forms the basis of social practices and the creation and continuation of social institutions like society (Voss & Lorenz, 2016) and higher education institutions. By taking the ongoing COVID19-pandemic as an example, we analyse the crisis communication targeting higher education students.
The aim of the paper is to analyse and compare actors, channels and content targeted at the international HE students in Finland during the pandemic time. The focus is particularly on the communicative practices of the national level actors. The main research question is how the communicative practices targeting higher education students differ between Finnish and international students. Using communication inequality (Ramandhan & Viswanath 2008, Viswanath 2006) as a theoretical framework, we specifically focus on the linguistic choices to differentiate these two student bodies. The data consist of ministerial documents and news pieces that are digitally provided at websites and social media sites. In a preliminary observation, we find some discrepancies among the actors in terms of the information provided and channels used supporting Palttala et al.’s (2012) observation on governments’ failing to communicate all different groups of people during a crisis.