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Education in Finland

Education in Finland

Overview
The Finnish education system is an egalitarian
Egalitarianism
Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

 Nordic system, with no tuition fees and with free meals served to full-time students. The present Finnish education system consists of well-funded and carefully thought out daycare programs (for babies and toddlers) and a one-year "pre-school" (or kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 for six-year olds); a nine-year compulsory basic comprehensive school
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

 (starting at age seven and ending at the age of sixteen); post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education; higher education (University and Polytechnical); and adult (lifelong, continuing) education.
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Encyclopedia
The Finnish education system is an egalitarian
Egalitarianism
Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

 Nordic system, with no tuition fees and with free meals served to full-time students. The present Finnish education system consists of well-funded and carefully thought out daycare programs (for babies and toddlers) and a one-year "pre-school" (or kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 for six-year olds); a nine-year compulsory basic comprehensive school
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

 (starting at age seven and ending at the age of sixteen); post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education; higher education (University and Polytechnical); and adult (lifelong, continuing) education. The Nordic strategy for achieving equality and excellence in education has been based on constructing a publicly funded comprehensive school
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

 system without selecting, tracking, or streaming students during their common basic education. Part of the strategy has been to spread the school network so that pupils have a school near their homes whenever possible or, if this is not feasible, e.g. in rural areas, to provide free transportation to more widely dispersed schools. Inclusive special education within the classroom and instructional efforts to minimize low achievement are also typical of Nordic educational systems.

After their nine-year basic education in a comprehensive school
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

, students at the age of 16 may choose to continue their secondary education in either an academic track (lukio) or a vocational track (ammattikoulu), both of which usually take three years. Tertiary education is divided into university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 and polytechnic (ammattikorkeakoulu
Ammattikorkeakoulu
An ammattikorkeakoulu , abbreviated amk, is a Finnish institution of higher education.- Significance :...

, often translated into English as "university of applied sciences") systems. Only universities award licentiate
Licentiate
Licentiate is the title of a person who holds an academic degree called a licence. The term may derive from the Latin licentia docendi, meaning permission to teach. The term may also derive from the Latin licentia ad practicandum, which signified someone who held a certificate of competence to...

- and doctoral
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

-level degrees. Formerly, only university graduates could obtain higher (postgraduate) degrees, however, since the implementation of the Bologna process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

, polytechnic degree holders can now qualify for further academic study by doing additional courses. There are 20 universities and 30 polytechnics in the country.

The Education Index
Education Index
This article contains information based on the pre-2010 Human Development Reports. The HDI and its education component have changed in 2010.The United Nations publishes a Human Development Index every year, which consists of the Education index, GDP Index and Life Expectancy Index...

, published with the UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

's Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Finland as 0.993, amongst the highest in the world, tied for first with Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

.

Readiness to Learn: The Importance of Quality Early Childhood Education Through Play


In Finland high quality daycare and nursery-kindergarten are considered critical for developing the cooperation and communication skills necessary to prepare young children for lifelong education as well as formal learning of reading and mathematics, which in Finland begins at age seven, so as not to disrupt their childhood.
Finnish early childhood education emphasizes respect for each child’s individuality and the chance for each child to develop as a unique person. Finnish early educators also guide children in the development of social and interactive skills, encouraging them to pay attention to other people’s needs and interests, to care about others, and to have a positive attitude toward other people, other cultures, and different environments. The purpose of gradually providing opportunities for increased independence is to enable all children to take care of themselves as “becoming adults,” to be capable of making responsible decisions, to participate productively in society as an active citizen, and to take care of other people who will need his [or her] help.”

To foster a culture of reading parents of newborn babies are given three books, one for the mother and father, and a baby book for the child, as part of the "maternity package". According to Finnish child development specialist Eeva Hujala, "Early education is the first and most critical stage of lifelong learning. Neurological research has shown that 90% of brain growth occurs during the first five years of life, and 85% of the nerve paths develop before starting school (n. b. At the age of seven in Finland)." "Care" in this context is synonymous with upbringing and is seen as a cooperative endeavor between parents and society to prepare children physically (eating properly, keeping clean) and mentally (communication, social awareness, empathy, and self reflection) before beginning more formal learning at age seven. The idea is that before seven they learn best through play, so by the time they finally get to school they are keen to start learning.

Finland has had access to free universal daycare for children age eight months to five years in place since 1990, and a year of "preschool/kindergarten" at age six, since 1996. "Daycare" includes both full-day childcare centers and municipal playgrounds with adult supervision where parents can accompany the child. The municipality will also pay mothers to stay home and provide "home daycare" for the first three years, if she desires, with occasional visits from a careworker to see that the environment is appropriate. The ratio of adults to children in local municipal childcare centers (either private but subsidized by local municipalities or paid for by municipalities with the help of grants from the central government) is, for children three years old and under: three adults (one teacher and two nurses) for every 12 pupils (or one-to-four); and, for children age three to six: three adults (one teacher and two nurses) for every 20 children (or circa one-to-seven). Payment, where applicable, is scaled to family income and ranges from free to about 200 euros a month maximum. According to Pepa Ódena in these centers, "You are not taught, you learn. The children learn through playing. This philosophy is put into practice in all the schools we visited, in what the teachers say, and in all that one sees."

Early childhood education is not mandatory in Finland, but is used by almost everyone. “We see it as the right of the child to have daycare and pre-school,” explained Eeva Penttilä, of Helsinki’s Education Department. “It’s not a place where you dump your child when you’re working. It’s a place for your child to play and learn and make friends. Good parents put their children in daycare. It’s not related to socio-economic class”.

The focus for kindergarten students is to “learn how to learn”, Ms. Penttilä said. Instead of formal instruction in reading and math there are lessons on nature, animals, and the “circle of life” and a focus on materials- based learning.

Basic Comprehensive education





















Education in Finland
Academic degrees Vocational degrees Age
doctor
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 
employment
licentiate
Licentiate
Licentiate is the title of a person who holds an academic degree called a licence. The term may derive from the Latin licentia docendi, meaning permission to teach. The term may also derive from the Latin licentia ad practicandum, which signified someone who held a certificate of competence to...

 
master
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 
Polytechnic(new)  +2-3
bachelor
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 
Polytechnic   +3-4
upper secondary schoolvocational school
Vocational school
A vocational school , providing vocational education, is a school in which students are taught the skills needed to perform a particular job...

18-19
17
16
comprehensive school
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

15
14
13
12
11
10
9
8
7
pre-school6

The basic compulsory educational system
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 in Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 is the nine-year comprehensive school
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

 (Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

 peruskoulu, Swedish
Finland-Swedish
Finland Swedish is a general term for the closely related cluster of dialects of Swedish spoken in Finland by Swedish-speaking Finns as their mother tongue...

 grundskola, "basic school"), for which school attendance is mandatory (homeschooling is allowed, but rare). There are no "gifted" programs, and the more able children are expected to help those who are slower to catch on.

Schools up to university level are almost exclusively funded and administered by municipalities of Finland (local government). There are few private schools. The founding of a new private comprehensive school requires a political decision by the Council of State. When founded, private schools are given a state grant comparable to that given to a municipal school of the same size. However, even in private schools, the use of tuition fees is strictly prohibited, and selective admission is prohibited, as well: private schools must admit all its pupils on the same basis as the corresponding municipal school. In addition, private schools are required to give their students all the social entitlements that are offered to the students of municipal schools. Because of this, existing private schools are mostly faith-based or Steiner schools, which are comprehensive by definition.

Teachers, who are fully unionized, follow state curriculum guidelines but are accorded a great deal of autonomy as to methods of instruction and are even allowed to choose their own textbooks. Classes are small, seldom more than twenty. From the outset pupils are expected to learn two languages in addition to the language of the school (usually Finnish or Swedish), and students in grades one through nine spend from four to eleven periods each week taking classes in art, music, cooking, carpentry, metalwork, and textiles. Small classes, insisted upon by the teachers' union, appear to be associated with student achievement, especially in science. Inside the school, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and the buildings are so clean that students often wear socks and no shoes. Outdoor activities are stressed, even in the coldest weather; and homework is minimal to leave room for extra-curricular activities. In addition to taking music in school, for example, many students attend the numerous state-subsidized specialized music schools after class where for a small fee they learn to play an instrument as a hobby and study basic solfège and music theory using methods originated in Hungary by Kodály and further developed by the Hungarian-born Finn Csaba Szilvay
Csaba Szilvay
Csaba Szilvay is a Finnish cello pedagogy and founder and conductor of the Helsinki Strings.Csaba Szilvay studied the cello at the Béla Bartók Conservatory and the Budapest Music Academy as a student of professor Antal Friss...

 and others.

Reading for pleasure is actively encouraged (Finland publishes more children's books than any other country). Television stations show foreign programs in the original languages with subtitles, so that in Finland children even read while watching TV.

During the first years of comprehensive school, grading may be limited to verbal assessments rather than formal grades. The start of numerical grading is decided locally. Most commonly, pupils are issued a report card twice a year: at the ends of the autumn and spring terms. There are no high-stakes tests.

Grades are given on scale from 4 to 10. In individual exams, but not on school year report or basic education certificate, it is also possible to divide the scale further with '½', which represents a half grade, and '+' and '–', which represent one-fourth a grade better or inferior. For example, the order is "9 < 9+ < 9½ < 10– < 10". The grade '10+' can also be awarded for a perfect performance with extra effort by the student.

If a comprehensive school pupil receives the grade 4 in one subject at the end of the spring term, they must show by a separate examination at the end of summer term that they have improved in the subject. If the pupil receives multiple failing grades, they may have to retake the year, though it is considered far preferable to provide a struggling student with extra help and tutoring. In the rare cases where a student is retained, the decision is made by the teachers and the headmaster after interviewing the pupil and the parents.

Comprehensive school students enjoy a number of social entitlements, such as school health care and a free lunch everyday, which covers about a third of the daily nutritional need. In addition, pupils are entitled to receive free books and materials and free school trips (or even housing) in the event that they have a long or arduous trip to school.

Upper Secondary education


Upper secondary education begins at 16 or 17 and lasts three to four years (roughly corresponding to the last two years of American high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

 plus what in the USA would be a two-year Community or Junior College
Community college
A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries.-Australia:Community colleges carry on the tradition of adult education, which was established in Australia around mid 19th century when evening classes were held to help adults...

). It is not compulsory. Finnish upper secondary students may choose whether to undergo occupational training
Vocational school
A vocational school , providing vocational education, is a school in which students are taught the skills needed to perform a particular job...

 to develop vocational competence and/or to prepare them for a polytechnic institute or to enter an academic upper school
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 focusing on preparation for university studies and post-graduate professional degrees in fields such as law, medicine, science, education, and the humanities. Admissions to academic upper schools are based on GPA, and in some cases academic tests and interviews. For example, during the year 2007, 51 % of the age group were enrolled in the academic upper school.

The system is not rigid, however and vocational school graduates may formally qualify for polytechnic or, in rare cases, university education; and academic secondary school graduates may enroll into vocational education programs. It is also possible to attend both vocational and academic secondary schools at the same time. Tuition is free, and vocational and academic students are entitled to school health care and a free lunch. However, they must buy their own books and materials.

Upon graduation, vocational school graduates receive a vocational school certificate. Academic upper secondary school graduates receive both secondary school certification and undergo a nationally graded matriculation examination. This was originally the entrance examination to the University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki
The University of Helsinki is a university located in Helsinki, Finland since 1829, but was founded in the city of Turku in 1640 as The Royal Academy of Turku, at that time part of the Swedish Empire. It is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available...

, and its high prestige survives to this day. Students in special programs may receive a vocational school certificate and take the matriculation examination (kaksoistutkinto) or all of the three certifications (kolmoistutkinto). Approximately 83 % of the upper academic school students, or 42 % of the age group, complete the matriculation examination.

Polytechnic institutes require school certification for admission, whereas the matriculation examination is more important in university admissions. However, some tertiary education programmes have their own admission examinations, and many use a mixture of both.

Advanced curricula in the upper academic school


In mathematics, the second national language, and foreign languages, a student can choose their curriculum from different levels. The choice of level must be done both in the beginning of the school to select the appropriate courses, and again when registering for the matriculation exam, to select the appropriate exam. These two choices are not directly linked, but commonly students keep the level the same for the matriculation exam. Common exception to this rule of thumb is whenever a student has barely finished the higher level courses and is unsure of their performance in the matriculation exam. In those cases, a student may elect to take the easier exam.

In mathematics, the advanced level is in practice a pre-requisite for the more competitive university science programs, such as those of the universities of technology, other university mathematical science programs, and medicine. In mathematics, 20 % of the matriculation examinees take the advanced level. The nation-wide matriculation exam together with entirely percentile-based grading provides an easy way to objectively classify each student based on their mathematical ability, regardless of the year when the exam was taken. For example, assuming that the best mathematical students are selected first to the upper academic school and then to the advanced mathematics curriculum, the students achieving laudatur would comprise the mathematically best 0.4 % of the age group, comparable to 800 SAT
SAT
The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The SAT is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a nonprofit organization in the United States. It was formerly developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service which still...

 mathematics section. The percentile equality does not, however, mean that the absolute level of a laudatur student in the advanced mathematics in Finland is equal to that of an 800 SAT student in the USA, due to differences in the mean quality of the population
Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

.

Tertiary education



There are two sectors in the tertiary education: universities (yliopisto, universitet) and polytechnics (ammattikorkeakoulu, yrkeshögskola, or AMK/YH for short). Admissions are based on gymnasium final GPA, the national matriculation examination and entrance examinations. The selection process is fully transparent, merit-based and objective; there are no application essays, no human factor in selection, no underrepresented minority support, and no weight on extracurricular activities. Moreover, the entrance examinations are rarely long lists of multiple-answer questions
Multiple choice
Multiple choice is a form of assessment in which respondents are asked to select the best possible answer out of the choices from a list. The multiple choice format is most frequently used in educational testing, in market research, and in elections-- when a person chooses between multiple...

, but smaller amount of longer and more complicated questions that are supposed to test more than memorization and quick mechanical problem solving. Therefore, the selection process is much different than for example in the US or India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

The focus for universities is research, and they give a more theoretical education. The polytechnics focus on practical skills and seldom pursue research, but they do engage in industry development projects. For example, physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

s are university graduates, whereas registered nurse
Registered nurse
A registered nurse is a nurse who has graduated from a nursing program at a university or college and has passed a national licensing exam. A registered nurse helps individuals, families, and groups to achieve health and prevent disease...

s are polytechnic graduates. (However, universities do award advanced degrees in Nursing Science.) The vocational schools and polytechnics are governed by municipalities, or, in special cases, by private entities. (As an exception to the rule, Police College is governed by the Ministry of the Interior.) All Finnish universities, on the other hand, are owned by the state. A bachelor's degree takes about three–four years. Depending on the programme, this may be the point of graduation, but it is usually only an intermediate step towards the master's degree. A polytechnic degree, on the other hand, takes about 3.5–4.5 years. A degree from a polytechnic is not, however, considered legally equivalent to a lower university degree in the Finnish system — even though translated into English as "bachelor". Outside of Finland, polytechnic degrees are generally accepted as lower university degrees.

Graduates from polytechnics are able to continue their studies by applying to Master's degree programmes in universities. These take two years in general, but the polytechnic graduates are often required to undertake perhaps a year's worth of additional studies to bring them up to the level of university graduates. The Bologna process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

 has progressively lowered the amount of required additional studies and in some cases no additional studies are required. After polytechnic graduates have completed three year's work experience in their field, they are also qualified to apply for higher polytechnic education programmes which are work-oriented — not academic. They are translated into English as "master's degree programmes" - the degree awarded is not identical to but in principle considered to be on the same level as a master's degree. Lower university degree graduates are also qualified to apply, but with additional studies. The higher polytechnic degree programme takes two years and can be undertaken in conjunction with regular work. After the higher polytechnic degree, the remaining degrees (Licentiate and Doctor) are available only in universities. The higher polytechnic degree does not qualify its recipient for graduate studies at doctoral level.

The equivalence discussed above is only relevant when applying for public sector jobs.

Attendance is compulsory in primary, but mostly voluntary in universities and polytechnics. No tuition fees are collected. However, since the 1990s there have been plans at government level to introduce tuition fees to students from outside the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

/EEA. The students' organisations have opposed those plans. In universities, membership in the students' union is compulsory. Students' unions of polytechnics are similarly recognized in the legislation, but membership is voluntary and does not include special university student health care (which is organised and partly financed by the students' unions). Finnish students are entitled to a student benefit, which may be revoked if there is a persistent lack of progress in the studies. The benefit is often insufficient and thus students usually work to help fund their studies. State-guaranteed student loans are also available.

Some universities provide professional degrees in such fields as engineering and medicine. They have additional requirements in addition to merely completing the studies, such as demonstrations of competence in practice.

Examples:
  • Lääketieteen lisensiaatti, medicine licentiat, Licentiate of Medicine. A Bachelor of Medicine (lääketieteen kandidaatti, medicine kandidat) is allowed to conduct clinical work under the supervision of senior medical staff. There is no Master's degree, and the licentiate degree does not require a full doctoral dissertation. The equivalent of a Medical Doctor in the U.S. sense is therefore not called "doctor", but licentiate. The research or "professor's degree", including a full dissertation, is called "Doctor of Medicine" (lääketieteen tohtori, medicine doktorsexamen).
  • Diplomi-insinööri
    Diplomi-insinööri
    Diplomi-insinööri is a Finnish Master's level academic degree with a nominal length of 300 ECTS credits. The official English translation of the degree is Master of Science in Engineering, Master of Science and Master of Science in Technology. The Finnish name derives from the old German degree...

    , diplomingenjör, is a six-year programme of 300 ECTS, which is comparable to a Master of Science with the Bachelor in the same field in Anglo-phone countries. However, included in this is a 30 ECTS "diploma project", which is a real-life engineering or science project taking about six months to a year full-time work. Its completion demonstrates professional competence in addition to the necessary amount of education. Notice: this programme, in practice, does not interoperate with the polytechnic insinööri (amk)
    Insinööri (amk)
    Insinööri is a four-year Bachelor of Engineering degree, given by institutions called Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland . The Swedish language term is ingenjör , where "YH" is an abbreviation for "yrkeshögskola"...

     (ingenjör (YH)) programme.


After the master's degree, there are two further post-graduate degrees — an intermediate postgraduate degree, called Licentiate
Licentiate
Licentiate is the title of a person who holds an academic degree called a licence. The term may derive from the Latin licentia docendi, meaning permission to teach. The term may also derive from the Latin licentia ad practicandum, which signified someone who held a certificate of competence to...

, and the Doctoral (Doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

) degree. A Licenciate programme has the same amount of theoretical education as a Doctor, but its dissertation work has fewer requirements. On the other hand, the requirements for a doctoral dissertation are a little bit higher than in other countries.

The most typical Finnish doctoral degree is Doctor of Philosophy (filosofian tohtori, filosofie doktorsexamen). However, universities of technology award the title Doctor of Science, tekniikan tohtori, teknologie doktorsexamen and there are several branch-specific titles, e.g., in medicine lääketieteen tohtori, medicine doktorsexamen, in art taiteen tohtori, and in social sciences valtiotieteen tohtori, politices doktorsexamen.

Adult education


Completing secondary school on a vocational programme with full classes on a three-year curriculum provides a formal qualification for further studies. However, it may prove necessary to obtain post-secondary education before being admitted to a university, as the entrance examinations require a relatively high level of knowledge. Post-secondary education is provided by municipal schools or independent 'adult education centres', which can give either vocational education or teaching at comprehensive or upper secondary school levels. It is possible to obtain the matriculation diploma, or to better the comprehensive school grades, in these programmes. A new trade can also be learned by an adult at an adult education centre (aikuiskoulutuskeskus, vuxenutbildningscenter), for example, if structural change
Structural change
Structural change of an economy refers to a long-term widespread change of the fundamental structure, rather than microscale or short-term output and employment. For example, a subsistence economy is transformed into a manufacturing economy, or a regulated mixed economy is liberalized...

 of the economy has made the old trade redundant.

In universities, the "Open University" programme enables people without student status to enroll in individual university courses. There are no requirements, but there is a modest tuition fee (e.g., 60 euros per course). Polytechnics have their own similar programme . While "Open University" students cannot pursue studies towards a degree, they may, after passing a sufficient number of separately determined courses with a sufficiently high grade point average, be eligible for transfer into an undergraduate degree program.

A third branch of adult education is formed by the so called vapaa sivistystyö, the "Free Education". This is formed by the partially state-funded, independent educational institutes offering diverse courses varying in length and academic level. The purpose of the "Free Education" is not to provide professional or degree-oriented education but to "support the multi-faceted development of personality, the ability to act in the community and to pursue the fulfilment of democracy, equality and diversity in the society." Historically, the "Free education" stems from the late 19th century efforts to educate the general populace with little previous academic experience.

The "Free Education" is offered by
  • 206 kansalaisopisto or työväenopisto (Citizens' or Workers' Institutes)
  • 88 kansanopisto (People's Institutes)
  • 14 Sports' training centres
  • 20 Summer universities
  • 11 Study Centres


The most common type of "Free Education" is a kansalaisopisto, sometimes called työväenopisto for historical reasons. These are mostly evening-type municipal institutions offering language, handicraft and humanities courses. The academic level varies strongly, and many courses do not require any requisite knowledge. The kansanopistos, on the other hand, are boarding-schools, often maintained by associations with either a strong ideological or religious mission. Also here, the academic level varies strongly. In all these institutions, the courses carry a modest tuition. The Sports' training centres are institutions for the professional or semi-professional sportsmen's training, while Summer universities and study centres are auxiliary bodies for the organization of Free Education.

Future prospects


The ongoing Bologna Process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

 blurs the distinction between vocational and academic qualifications. In some fields, new postgraduate degrees have been introduced. Co-operation between the different systems is rising and some integration will occur (although not without a substantial amount of pressure). This results from not only the Bologna Process but also the goal of Finnish politicians — to educate the vast majority of Finns to a higher degree (ca. 60–70% of each annual cohort
Cohort (statistics)
In statistics and demography, a cohort is a group of subjects who have shared a particular time together during a particular time span . Cohorts may be tracked over extended periods in a cohort study. The cohort can be modified by censoring, i.e...

 enter higher education).

In recent years, a cut in the number of new student places has often been called for by the economic sphere, as well as trade and student unions, because of an ongoing trend of rising academic unemployment, which is interpreted as a result of the steep increase in student places in higher education in the 1990s. In particular, some polytechnic (AMK/YH) degrees have suffered inflation. In a reflection of this current belief, the Ministry of Education has recently decreed a nationwide cut of 10% in new student places in polytechnics to be applied starting from 2007 and 2008. It is still largely undecided whether (and when) some of those cuts could be redistributed to areas in need of a more highly educated work force. In 2001 and 2002, university graduates had a 3.7% unemployment rate, and polytechnic graduates had 8%, which is on a par with the general unemployment rate (see the OECD report).

An increase in vocational school
Vocational school
A vocational school , providing vocational education, is a school in which students are taught the skills needed to perform a particular job...

 student places might be preferred, as a shortage of basic workforce such as plumbers and construction workers is widely acknowledged in Finland. It should also be noted that retiring age groups are bigger than the ones entering higher education in Finland at present and for quite some time into the foreseeable future. If the current number of student places were kept unchanged to the year 2020, for example, Eastern Finland would have enough student places for 103% of the estimated size of the age group 19-21.

Higher Education system restructuring


Due to globalization and increasing competition for diminishing younger age groups, system-wide restructuring has been called for by the Ministry of Education. Since 2006 all institutions of higher education have been sharing methods of cooperation. The total number of institutions is expected to drop significantly within 10–15 years.

The process within universities is led by the University of Kuopio and the University of Joensuu, which will form a new University of Eastern Finland
University of Eastern Finland
The University of Eastern Finland is a university in Finland with three campuses in Joensuu, Kuopio, and Savonlinna. It was formed in 2010 by a merger of two previously independent universities.- History :...

 in 2010. In Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, three local universities, namely Helsinki University of Technology
Helsinki University of Technology
Aalto University School of Science and Technology , was the temporary name for Helsinki University of Technology during the process of forming the Aalto University...

, Helsinki School of Economics
Helsinki School of Economics
The Aalto University School of Economics , known as Helsinki School of Economics until 2009, is the largest and leading business school in Finland and one of the most renowned in Europe...

 and University of Art and Design Helsinki
University of Art and Design Helsinki
Aalto University School of Art and Design , known commonly as TaiK, is the largest art university in the Nordic countries, and was founded in 1871. Media Centre Lume – the National Research and Development Center of audiovisual media – is also located in the university...

, merged to a new Aalto University
Aalto University
Aalto University is a Finnish university established on January 1, 2010, by the merger of the Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics, and the University of Art and Design Helsinki....

 on August 1, 2009. Also several polytechnics have announced mergers (such as Haaga and Helia, which merged into Haaga-Helia in 2007).

New methods of cooperation such as consortia and federations
Federated school
An affiliated school is an educational institution that operates independently, but also has a formal collaborative agreement with another, usually larger institution that may have some level of control or influence over its academic policies, standards or programs.While a university may have one...

 have been introduced within universities (e.g., University of Turku
University of Turku
The University of Turku , located in Turku in southwestern Finland, is the second largest university in the country as measured by student enrollment, after University of Helsinki. It was established in 1920 and also has faculties at Rauma, Pori and Salo...

 and Turku School of Economics
Turku School of Economics
Turku School of Economics is a faculty of the University of Turku located in Turku, Finland. It was established as an independent higher education business school in 1950, until it was acquired by the state in 1977...

 Consortium). Partnerships between universities and polytechnics are also developing (e.g., the University of Kuopio and Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Savonia University of Applied Sciences is a local municipality-owned Finnish institution of higher education based in the cities of Kuopio, Iisalmi and Varkaus....

 formed the Northern Savonia
Northern Savonia
Northern Savonia is a region in eastern Finland. Kuopio is the largest city in the region.- Historical provinces :For history, geography and culture see: Savonia- Municipalities :Northern Savonia includes 21 municipalities.Seven of them are cities....

 Higher Education Consortium). In general, such system-wide change closely follows the pattern established in Central Europe and the United States and Spain and Hungary.

Media


In 2011, documentary filmmaker, Bob Compton, and Harvard researcher, Dr. Tony Wagner, made research looking into the Finnish school system and its excellence. The result of their research is the film, "The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System".

See also

  • European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System
    European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System
    This page describes ECTS-credits. For information about the ECTS grading system go to ECTS grading scale.European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education across the European Union and other...

  • Finnish National Agency for Education
  • List of universities in Finland
  • Programme for International Student Assessment
    Programme for International Student Assessment
    The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

     (PISA)
  • University Admissions Finland
    University Admissions Finland
    University Admissions Finland is a centralised application service for international degree student applicants.University Admissions Finland processes the applications, which includes credential evaluation and verification of language skills. After UAF’s processing, the universities will evaluate...

  • EduCluster Finland ltd.

External links