Higher Education in Finland.
1. Historical overview / Context: The Finnish education system has been gaining fame lately due to its success in national education rankings, as well as being the second most literate country in the world (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-highest-literacy-rates-in-the-world.
html). Finland is considered to have one of the most fair higher education systems specificaly in accessibilty and cost (http://higheredstrategy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/GHER2010_FINAL.pdf). The higher education system (as well as the education system in general) focuses on equality and is free at all levels.Education in Finland began with the Church.
The national religion of Finland is Lutheranism, which has a strong emphasis on literacy. In order to be confirmed, or get married, you had to prove that you were literate. In 1866 an independent public education system was set up by the government, with a monitoring board developed a few years later (http://www.oph.
fi/english/education_system/historical_overview). The first university established, the University of Helsinki 1640 in was established before Finland’s independence from Sweden. Until 1908 it was Finland’s only university, but business needs led to the expansion of the university system. Parliament passed the first Higher Education Development Act ensuring resource growth for higher education. Prior to 2005 Bachelor’s degrees were not required to enter into a Master’s program, however that changed when the two-teir structure that is currently in place was introduced (https://tertiary-education.studentnews.eu/s/2328/57788-Tertiary-education/2879170-01-Finland-Historical-overview.htm).
2. Academic system: The Finnish higher education system is broken down into two parts; universities, and universities of applied sciences. Both university systems offer bachelors and masters degrees, doctoral degrees are completed through the university system. These institutions are independent corporations that are in charge of designing their own syllabi as well as admitting students (https://www.eui.eu/ProgrammesAndFellowships/AcademicCareersObservatory/AcademicCareersbyCountry/Finland)..
Universities:There are a total of 14 universities in Finland, 10 multidisciplinary and 4 specialized universities, as well as 1 military university. Universities are focused on scientific research and academic based learning. The University of Helsinki has the largest student population (https://www.
statista.com/statistics/525786/finland-number-of-university-students-by-university/).Universities of Applied Sciences:There are a total of 26 universities of applied sciences, 24 polytechnic, 1 Police school, and 1 in the self-governing province of Aland. Universities of Applied Sciences focus on “employability”, using a more practical and interactive strategy to enter directly into the workforce.
The universities of applied sciences focus on contacts in the business world and industries that have a demand for employees (http://www.fulbright.fi/en/guide/higher-education). In the past few years there has been a rise in the number of students studying at the polytechnics with the highest number of degrees at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (http://www.stat.fi/til/akop/2015/akop_2015_2016-04-19_tie_001_en.html).
a. Structure of programs: i. Undergraduate degreesBoth types of institutions offer Bachelor’s degrees. Following the Bologna reform, these take between 3 and 4 years. University Bachelor’s have a requirement of 180 credits to graduate, typically taking a full time student 3 years, while University of Applied Sciences Bachelors credit requirements vary by degree, between 210-270 credits, which usually take between 3,5 and 4,5 years (http://www.euroeducation.
net/prof/finco.htm). At the universities of applied sciences, practical training experience is required, along with core and professional studies and a thesis. Universities require general and intermediate studies as well as language studies and a thesis. Universities tend to include courses in a major and a minor subject.iii. Masters degrees Masters degrees are offered in both universities and universities of applied sciences. The minimum credit requirement to graduate is 120 credits which will take a full time student 2 years to complete.
Masters degrees can be completed after a Bachelor’s degree and many students choose to stay at the same institution. At a university of applied sciences, students often have to complete 3 years of work experience in order to enter into a Masters program. If the Bachelors has been completed at a university of applied sciences, it is possible to enter a Masters at a university, but extra courses may be required. (http://www.studyinfinland.fi/what_to_study/doctoral_degrees). ii.
Postgraduate degrees Postgraduate degrees include licentiate and doctoral programs. In order to apply for a postgraduate degree, the student must have completed a masters program. iv. PhD Doctorates are only offered at the universities, not the universities of applied sciences. They consist of 240 credits and take around 4 years to complete, including the requirement of publishing and defending a thesis.c.
Specialisations (majors/minors; common subjects; compulsory courses; elective subjects, etc.) Universities offer Bachelors and Masters in 12 fields of study:Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinaryArtsBusiness, administration and lawEducationEngineering, manufacturing and constructionHealth and welfareHumanitiesInformation and Communication Technologies (ICTS)MedicineNatural sciences, mathematics, statisticsServices (military science, sport science)Social sciences, journalism and informationArts and humanities was the most popular subject in 2016, followed by business, administration and law.Universities of Applied Sciences offer Bachelors and Masters in the following:Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and VeterinaryArtsBusiness, Administration and LawEducationEngineering, Manufacturing and ConstructionHealth and WelfareHumanitiesInformation and Communication Technologies (ICTS)Services (hospitality management, logistics, security, sport studies)Social Sciences, Journalism and InformationHealth and welfare was the most popular degree in 2016, closely followed by engineering, manufacturing and construction (http://pxnet2.
stat.fi/PXWeb/pxweb/en/StatFin/StatFin__kou__akop/statfin_akop_pxt_001.px/table/tableViewLayout1/?rxid=a03cae2b-cfde-41e8-88a3-b84f1666dfd0).https://studyinfo.fi/wp2/en/higher-education/polytechnics-universities-of-applied-sciences/polytechnic-uas-bachelors-degree/d. Teaching methodologies (lectures; seminars; blended learning; online classes; group work; critical thinking; etc.
)The teaching methods vary from institution to institution as they are given freedom to set the requirements. Teachers decide the materials and methodologies to be used in their classroom. Although the Finnish university system has traditionally been lecture and exam based, teachers are increasingly incorporating newer learning strategies, such as projects and group work. Seminars are becoming increasingly popular, providing a space for discussion. In the science degrees, lab classes are generally a part of the curriculum, providing hands on experience. Teachers have office hours in which students may come in and talk with the professors.