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Finland:Higher Education

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Overview Finland

Contents

Finland:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Finland:Historical Development

Finland:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Finland:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Finland:Political and Economic Situation

Finland:Organisation and Governance

Finland:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Finland:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Finland:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Finland:Organisation of Private Education

Finland:National Qualifications Framework

Finland:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Finland:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Finland:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Finland:Funding in Education

Finland:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Finland:Higher Education Funding

Finland:Adult Education and Training Funding

Finland:Early Childhood Education and Care

Finland:Organisation of early childhood education and care other than pre-primary education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in early childhood education and care other than pre-primary education

Finland:Assessment in early childhood education and care other than pre-primary education

Finland:Organisation of pre-primary education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in pre-primary education

Finland:Assessment in pre-primary education

Finland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Finland:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Finland:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Finland:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Finland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Finland:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Organisation of Vocational and Technical Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in Vocational and Technical Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Assessment in Vocational and Technical Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Higher Education

Finland:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Finland:First Cycle Programmes

Finland:Bachelor

Finland:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Finland:Second Cycle Programmes

Finland:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Finland:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Finland:Adult Education and Training

Finland:Distribution of Responsibilities

Finland:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Finland:Main Providers

Finland:Main Types of Provision

Finland:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Finland:Teachers and Education Staff

Finland:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Finland:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Finland:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Finland:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Management and Other Education Staff

Finland:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Finland:Management Staff for Higher Education

Finland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Finland:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Quality Assurance

Finland:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Finland:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Educational Support and Guidance

Finland:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Finland:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Finland:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Finland:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Finland:Mobility and Internationalisation

Finland:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Mobility in Higher Education

Finland:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Finland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Finland:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Finland:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Finland:National Reforms in School Education

Finland:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Finland:National Reforms in Higher Education

Finland:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Finland:European Perspective

Finland:Legislation

Finland:Glossary

 

In Finland the higher education system consists of two complementary sectors: universities and polytechnics. Universities emphasise scientific research and education based on scientific research. They grant Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as well as post-graduate Licentiate and Doctorate degrees. Polytechnics are multi-field regional institutions with strong connection with labour market and regional development. They offer polytechnic Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and they emphasise applied R&D.

The university sector consists of multi-faculty universities, universities of technology, business schools and art academies, all of which carry out research, provide education based on research and award degrees up to doctorates. In addition, university level education is provided at one military academy, the National Defence University, which falls under the defence administration.

According to legislation, the purpose of universities is to promote free research and scientific and artistic education, provide higher education based on research, and educate students to serve their country and humanity. In carrying out this mission, universities must interact with the surrounding society and strengthen the impact of research findings and artistic activities on society.

The legislation concerning universities (Universities Act 558/2009 and Decree 770/2009) include provisions on the mission of the universities, research and instruction, organisation and administration, staff and official language, students, appeals against university decisions and students’ legal protection.

The Universities Act was reformed in 2009. The law further extended the autonomy of universities by giving them an independent legal status, either as public corporations or as foundations under private law. At the same time, the universities’ management and decision-making system was reformed.

Most universities of applied sciences are multi-field institutions. In addition, the Police College of Finland falls under the administration of the Ministry of the Interior. The autonomous Åland Islands also have their own university of applied sciences. The Government grants permanent operating licences to the universities of applied sciences.

UAS degree studies give a higher education qualification and practical professional skills. The objective of the studies is to provide the necessary knowledge and skills for professional expert functions on the basis of the requirements of working life and its development needs.

Universities of applied sciences carry out research and development, which serve UAS education and support working life. They play an important role in regional development as providers of high-quality education and developers of the economic life of the regions, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises. The role of universities of applied sciences in research and development supporting regions and working life will be strengthened, for example by increasing the weight of research as a criterion of funding. 

The legislation on universities of applied sciences defines the responsibilities and degrees awarded by the UAS. It also include provisions on the mission of the UAS, research and instruction, organisation and administration, staff and official language, students, appeals against decisions and students’ legal protection.

A Polytechnics reform has been carried out since 2011 in two stages so that the last part of the reform took part in the beginning of the year 2015. The reform gave the universities of applied sciences an independent legal status. All universities of applied sciences operate as limited companies. The main funding responsibility of the universities of applied sciences is transferred to the State. Prior to 2015, the responsibility of the funding was divided between the State and municipalities. 

The operating licenses and the educational responsibilities of UAS have been revised. Educational responsibilities consist of degrees and degree titles. Ministry of Education and Culture (MoE) will no longer decide on the degree programmes. 

The financing system of the universities of applied sciences has been renewed to be more performance-based. The new funding model emphasises quality, impact and efficiency. The institution-specific funding will be primarily determined on the basis of degrees awarded, the quality and efficiency of study processes and R&D. The new Polytechnics Act was confirmed in November 2014. 

Field-specific educational responsibilities of higher education institutions are defined by the legislation or by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Joint educational objectives and university- and UAS-specific performance targets are determined in the performance negotiations between the higher education institutions and the Ministry of Education and Culture. Quantitative targets are set for degrees as well as adult education, for example. On the basis of these negotiations, higher education institutions decide on student intake in their fields of study and select their own students. They also draw up their own curricula and design their instruction within the framework of national statutes. 

Equal access to higher education is ensured by the wide institutional network, the free education, student financial aid as well as the flexible pathways to higher education. Efforts have also been made to lower the threshold to apply to higher education by developing an on-line joint application system.

According to the legislation both universities and universities of applied sciences must operate in interaction with the rest of the society. 

Higher education institutions are very autonomous in organising their instruction and academic year. Generally instruction is offered in two semesters. At universities the academic year usually extends from mid-September to mid-May. Instruction at universities of applied sciences generally starts in August or September and ends in May.

The structure of the higher education sector in Finland has been developed for the last few years and will continue to be developed further. The structural development of higher education institutions aims at reallocating resources from structures to improve the quality of teaching and research and to boost international competitiveness by means of, for example, aggregating activities to larger entities.  The structural development seeks to contribute to greater effectiveness and quality of teaching, collaboration between institutions, the society and businesses. Also internationalisation is high on the agenda.

Universities Act (558/2009)

Government’s Decree on Universities (770/2009)

Polytechnics Act (932/2014)

Education and Research 2011-2015. A Development Plan