Invitation Letter for a U.S. Scholar
NOTE: July is traditionally a summer vacation month in Finland and responses to inquiries about invitation letters may be delayed. Applicants are advised to contact Finnish host institutions well ahead of time to solicit an invitation letter for their application. In case the invitation letter would not be available in time for the application deadline, applicants are advised to contact IIE/CIES.
An invitation letter from the inviting Finnish host institution is required in nearly all Fulbright Finland grant programs for U.S. scholars. The invitation letter is an significant component in the application and its content is an important part of the selection process. When drafting the invitation letter, the U.S. applicant and the Finnish host should discuss the following topics and include them in the invitation letter:
- The timing of the visit (for example: 4 months September-December, or 1 September to 31 December)
- The name of the academic host who will be primarily working with the scholar, as a contact person for administrative matters (incl. pre-arrangements for the visit, meeting the scholar at the airport, and serving as the host during the visit; see checklist below)
- The benefits of the scholar’s visit to the host institution (for research cooperation or teaching for example)
- Long-term benefits of the visit
- Benefits of the scholar’s visit beyond the host institution (for the academic field or society, for example)
- Support services provided by the host institutions (work space, research staff, equipment, as applicable)
- The commitment of the host institution/department to provide and pay for the scholar’s and accompanying family members’ accommodation during the visit in programs in which this is a requirement (this requirement is in all U.S. scholar programs offered by the Fulbright Center except for the Mid-Career Professional Development Grant)
The invitation letter is addressed to the invited scholar.
If the Fulbright scholar has lecturing or research duties at two institutions during the visit, it is important to remember that the Fulbright Finland pays the scholar’s travel allowance and monthly allowance only. Host institutions must come to mutual agreement about the sharing of other costs.
Checklist for a U.S. Scholar's Host
The Finnish host university is responsible for taking care of all practical arrangements related to the scholar's visit at the host university and in the host city. Please find below the checklist for hosts to help you with the required arrangements. It is very important to familiarize yourself with the checklist and start preparing for the visit already well in advance before the scholar's arrival to Finland.
Before the Visit
|Appointing the host
- In charge of planning the visit and taking care of practicalities.
- Helps to organize the scholar’s everyday life: e.g. accommodation reservations, daycare and school for the children, bank-related practicalities, grocery stores and other shops, public transportation, etc.
- Please note that visiting scholars with young children may need to make arrangements for daycare or school as early as February, and will need confirmed information on their housing in Finland to apply for daycare placement.
- Makes sure that the scholar is aware of all the trips, vacations, and other absences that the host may have during the visit. Visiting scholars often approach the host with questions during the summer and Christmas vacations, before they arrive to Finland.
- Many Universities have published a separate guidebook that contains valuable information for the organizing the scholar’s visit. Ask for a guidebook from the University’s International Exchange Services.
|Make arrangements for the Fulbright scholar’s teaching and research
- It is best to make a schedule for the Fulbright scholar’s teaching and research as early as possible, so that they will be well prepared for their visit, and can, for example, mail their teaching and research material to the university well in advance.
- Fulbright scholars have made a proposal for their teaching and research plan when they have filled in their Fulbright application. The Fulbright Finland sends a copy of the application to the host university. In case the host university wishes to make changes to the Fulbright scholar’s project proposal, it is best to discuss any adjustments before the scholar arrives to Finland.
- It is important to keep in mind that Fulbright scholars are not usually familiar with the Finnish university practices. Remember that sometimes things that are familiar to Finns might be unfamiliar to the visiting scholar. They are not usually familiar with how teaching is arranged in Finland, for example. As the Fulbright scholars plan their teaching, they need to be aware of all practical details such as: when do the terms begin and end in Finnish Universities, how much information their courses should cover, what is their students’ level of knowledge, what is the grading system in Finland, etc.
|Mailing of teaching and research material
- Find out the address the visitors can send their materials to.
|Send an Information package on the host university, department, and city
|Inform the scholar about the services the host university provides
- Has the university published a guide book for visiting teachers/researchers? If not, check the guide book available for international students for useful information. The guide books are usually available at the university’s International Exchange Services. If not, ask for one from the department’s international coordinator.
- Find out what kind of guidance is available to the Fulbright scholars and/or the host at the university’s Exchange Services?
- Does the university arrange an orientation for the visiting scholar at the beginning of the semester? Find out, and inform your guests about the time and place.
- Does the university provide courses on the Finnish language/culture/history for visitors? Find out, and inform your guests about the details.
|Arrange an apartment
- Is the university’s central administration or the department in charge of arranging an apartment for the visiting scholar?
- It is best to discuss available apartments (size, location, amenities, etc.) well in advance with the scholar, as well as find out what the scholar’s wishes and needs are regarding their accommodation, so that misunderstandings can be avoided.
- Find out who the scholar should contact in case they have problems concerning the apartment.
- Fulbright scholars might receive pay from their home university in addition to the Fulbright grant. In addition, the host university may wish to complement the visitors’ grant by offering extra advantages. All extra advantages should always be reported to the Fulbright Finland. If the Fulbright scholars receive a pay from the host university, they will need help with the tax forms, and other tax-related issues.
|Arrange a workspace
- Make sure a workspace is available by the time the Fulbright Lecturer arrives to Finland
|Send an announcement about the scholar’s visit
- Inform faculty at the university and the department
- Inform contacts in the scholar’s field of study
After the Scholar's Arrival
|Arranging for the scholar’s arrival
- Pick the visiting scholar up from the airport and take them to their apartment
|Orientation to the university
- Introduce the scholar to the faculty and staff, and show them around the department and the university.
- Show them around the library, the language center, the gym, etc.
- Advice on the practicalities of the university and the department: meetings, printers and photocopies, bills, travels, etc.
- Inform the scholar about events at the university and the department throughout the visit
- Provide the scholar information on local medical care and recommended clinics or doctors for international visitors. Find out whether visiting the Fulbright scholar has access to university health care.
|Practicalities at the university
- Make sure the scholar has: keys, staff ID, library card, photocopy card, username and password for the university systems, email address, telephone, etc.
- Find out if the practicalities can be taken care of already before the scholar’s arrival (e.g. filling in the necessary forms via e-mail, fax, or email)?
|Additional help and guidance on practicalities
- Opening a bank account, buying a travel card, telephone subscription, tax form, etc.
- Make sure the scholar has the contact information for the nearest health clinic.
- In some universities Fulbright scholars are entitled to occupational health care. How about in your university?
- Find out who advises the scholars on health care-related issues and be sure to communicate this also to the scholar.
|Make sure the Fulbright scholar and their family enjoy their visit
- The visiting scholar, and possibly also their family, arrive to a foreign country. Their first and most important link to the Finnish society is their host university. What happens after work, or during the weekends and holidays? What can you do to make sure the visitors enjoy their stay?