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Finland

Overview

Suomen Tasavalta/Republiken Finland (The Republic of Finland), is located in northern Europe and is bordered by Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the Baltic Sea. Finland is the 8th largest country in Europe and is the most sparsely-populated (5,503,347) in the European Union. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of Finland (5.3% speak Swedish). The literacy rate is 100%. The area of present day Finland was first settled during the Stone Age in about 8500 BC. In the 13th century, Sweden established rule over Finland. During the 1700s, Finland was occupied by Russia for several years. On March 29, 1809, Finland was conquered by Russia and became a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire until December 16, 1917, when Finland gained independence from Russia. Finland joined the European Union in 1995.

Education

Currently, Finland's education system is overseen by the country's Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö/Undervisnings-och kulturministeriet.

Primary and Secondary Education

Education is free and compulsory for 9 years, beginning at age 7 with a compulsory pre-school for children 6 years old. There are nine years of basic education at peruskoulu/grundskola (comprehensive schools) beginning at age 7. Upon completion, students are awarded a Peruskoulun päättötodistus. There are 366 upper secondary schools in Finland (as of 2015); 30 have Swedish as the language of instruction. There are lukio/gymnasium (general upper secondary schools) which are academically oriented and ammatillinen oppilaitos/yrkesinstitut (vocational upper secondary schools) following comprehensive school. Students must go through the Yhteishakujärjestelmä (Joint Application System) in which they apply to up to 5 general or vocational upper secondary schools. Typically, 51.6% of students opt for general upper secondary education and 42.1% for vocational upper secondary education (as of 2014).

General upper secondary school is 3 years, and students are awarded a Certificate of completion of the general secondary syllabus (Lukion päättötodistus/Avgångsbetyg från gymnasiet). Vocational upper secondary school is also 3 years, but has a vocational/technical focus and includes practical training. Upon completion, students are awarded a Ammatillinen (päättötodistus) perustutkinto/Yrkesinriktad grundexamen which is accepted for admission to post-secondary study at higher education institutions.

Yliopisto/universitet (Universities) and ammattikorkeakoulu/yrkeshögskola (AMK/YH)(universities of applied sciences) formerly known as polytechnics offer post-secondary study programs.

Post-Secondary Education

There are 14 universities in Finland, with the first university being founded in Turku in 1640. Universities are more academic and artistic than universities of applied sciences and focus on theory and research. There are 23 universities of applied sciences (UAS) in Finland (as of 2017). The first one opened in the 1991-92 academic year. These institutions were formerly known as polytechnics. The UAS focus on career preparation and the degrees include applied research.

First and second cycle higher education studies are measured in opintopiste/studiepoäng (credits). Study courses are quantified according to the work load required. One year of full-time study is equivalent to 1600 hours of student work on average and is defined as 60 credits. The current credit system complies fully with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

Prior to 2005 reform the higher education, studies were measured in credit units (opintoviikko/studievecka). A credit unit defined as the amount of work required from the student to attain the required objectives. One credit unit corresponded to approximately 40 hours of student work. Students that had begun their studies prior the reform could continue in the old system and complete their degree according to the old degree requirements up until 2008 or 2010, depending on the field of study.

University Degrees

The Government Decree on University Degrees and Specialisation Studies (794/2004 including amendments) defines the objectives, extent and overall structure of degrees. The universities decide on the detailed contents and structure of the degrees they award. They also decide on their curricula and forms of instruction.

General eligibility for higher education is given by the Ylioppilastutkintotodistus/Studentsexamensbetyg, the Ammatillinen perustutkinto/Yrkesinriktad grundexamen, the Ammattitutkinto/Yrkesexamen and the Erikoisammattitutkinto/Specialyrkesexamen.

A foreign qualification that gives eligibility for higher education in the system the qualification belongs to gives general eligibility for higher education also in Finland.

Until the 2005-06 academic year, post-secondary education was typically offered as an integrated program which comprised bachelor and master studies. The degree awarded upon completion of the program is a master’s degree, (graduate level degree). In this system, students were directly admitted to study towards a master-level degree and it was not compulsory to separately graduate with a bachelor-level (undergraduate) degree during the study programme, but instead continue directly to the master-level after the completion of the bachelor-level studies. The systems co-existed until the end of the 2007-08 academic year and in certain fields till 2010. The longer transitional period (till 31 July 2010) applied to the following degrees (titles provided in English, Finnish and Swedish):

  • Arkkitehdin tutkinto/Arkitektexamen (Master of Science (Architecture))
  • Diplomi-insinöörin tutkinto/Diplomingenjörsexamen (Master of Science (Technology))
  • Maisema-arkkitehdin tutkinto/Landskapsarkitektexamen(Master of Science (Landscape Architecture))
  • Eläinlääketieteen lisensiaatin tutkinto/Vetenärmedicine licentiatexamen (Licentiate of Veterinary Medicine)
  • Hammaslääketieteen lisensiaatin tutkinto/Odontologie licentiatexamen (Licentiate of Odontology)
  • Lääketieteen lisensiaatti/Medicine Licentiatexamen (Licentiate of Medicine)
First Cycle

The first cycle university degree consists of at least 180 credits (three years of full-time study). (Prior to 2005 reform the required extent of studies was 120 credit units (three years of full-time study)). The degree is called Kandidaattin tutkinto/Kandidat in all fields of study except for oikeusnotaari/rättsnotarie (Law) and farmaseutti/farmaceut (Pharmacy). The determined English translation for all of these degrees is Bachelor’s degree, the most common degree titles being Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science.

Studies leading to the degree provide the student with:

  1. knowledge of the fundamentals of the major and minor subjects or corresponding study entities or studies included in the degree programme and the prerequisites for following developments in the field.
  2. knowledge and skills needed for scientific thinking and the use of scientific methods or knowledge and skills needed for artistic work.
  3. knowledge and skills needed for studies leading to a higher university degree and for life-long learning.
  4. a capacity for applying the acquired knowledge and skills to work and in international co-operation.
  5. adequate language and communication skills for working in one’s own field and for international work and co-operation.

Studies leading to the degree may include: basic and intermediate studies; language and communication studies, interdisciplinary programmes, and other studies and work practice for professional development. The degree includes a Bachelor’s thesis (6–10 credits).

Second Cycle

The second cycle university degree consists of at least 120 credits (two years of full-time study). (Prior to 2005 reform, the degree was either 160 to 180 credits or a first-cycle degree of at least 120 credits plus 40 to 60 credits, minimum of 5 years of full-time study or 2 years of full-time study beyond the first-cycle degree.) The degree is usually called maisteri/magister. Other second cycle degree titles are diplomi-insinööri/diplomingenjör (Technology), proviisori/provisor (Pharmacy) and arkkitehti/arkitekt (Architecture). The determined English translation for all these degrees is Master’s degree, the most common degree titles being Master of Arts and Master of Science. The second cycle university degree title in the fields of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry is lisensiaatti/licentiat, the English title being Licentiate. The admission requirement for the second cycle university degree is a first cycle degree.

In the fields of Medicine and Dentistry the university may arrange the education leading to the second cycle university degree without including a first cycle university degree in the education. In Medicine the degree consists of 360 credits (six years of full-time study) and in Dentistry the degree consists of 330 credits (five and a half years of full-time study).

Studies leading to the second cycle university degree provide the student with:

  1. good overall knowledge of the major subject or a corresponding entity and conversance with the fundamentals of the minor subject or good knowledge of the advanced studies included in the degree programme.
  2. knowledge and skills needed to apply scientific knowledge and scientific methods or knowledge and skills needed for independent and demanding artistic work.
  3. knowledge and skills needed for independently operating as an expert and developer of the field and for international co-operation.
  4. knowledge and skills needed for scientific or artistic postgraduate education and for life-long learning.
  5. good language and communication skills for working in one’s own field and for international work and co-operation.

The studies leading to the second cycle university degree may include: basic and intermediate studies and advanced studies, language and communication studies; interdisciplinary studies, other studies, and internship improving expertise. The degree includes a Master’s thesis (20 – 40 credits).

Third Cycle

Students can apply for doctoral studies after the completion of a second cycle degree. The aim of doctoral studies is to provide student with an in-depth knowledge of their field of research and capabilities to produce novel scientific knowledge independently.

The degree of lisensiaatti/licentiat may be taken before the Doctor's degree and in general it takes two years of full-time study to complete.

The Doctor’s degree takes approximately four years to complete after a second cycle degree and two years when completed after a Licentiate’s degree. A student who has been admitted to complete the Doctor’s degree must complete a given amount of studies, show independent and critical thinking in the field of research and write a Doctor’s dissertation and defend it in public.

University of Applied Sciences Degrees

The universities of applied sciences Act (932/2014 including amendments) defines the objectives, extent and overall structure of universities of applied sciences degrees. The universities of applied sciences decide on the detailed contents and structure of the degrees they award. They also decide on their curricula and forms of instruction.

General eligibility for higher education is given by the Ylioppilastutkintotodistus/Studentsexamensbetyg, successful completion of Lukion päättötodistus, Ammatillinen perustutkinto/Yrkesinriktad grundexamen, Ammattitutkinto/Yrkesexamen and Erikoisammattitutkinto/Specialyrkesexamen.

A foreign qualification that gives eligibility for higher education in the system the qualification belongs to, gives general eligibility for higher education also in Finland.

First Cycle, University of Applied Sciences

The first cycle university of applied sciences degree consists of 180, 210, 240 or 270 credits (three to four and a half years of full-time study; prior to the reform 160 to 180 credit units which required 3.5 to 4.5 years of full-time study) depending on the field of study. The first cycle university of applied sciences degree is called ammattikorkeakoulututkinto/yrkeshögskoleexamen. The determined English translation for the degree is Bachelor’s degree. The degree titles indicate the field of study, e.g. Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Health Care.

Studies leading to the degree provide the student with:

  1. broad overall knowledge and skills with relevant theoretical background for working as expert of the field.
  2. knowledge and skills needed for following and advancing developments in the field.
  3. knowledge and skills needed for professional development and life-long learning.
  4. adequate language and communication skills for working in one’s own field and for international work and co-operation.

The first cycle university of applied sciences degree comprises basic and professional studies, elective studies, a practical training period, and a final project.

Second Cycle, University of Applied Sciences

The second cycle university of applied sciences degree consists of 60 or 90 credits (a year or a year and a half of full-time study). Part-time study is relatively common. The degree is called ylempi ammattikorkeakoulututkinto/högre yrkeshögskoleexamen. The determined English translation for the degree is Master’s degree. The degree titles indicate the field of study, e.g. Master of Culture and Arts or Master of Business Administration. Eligibility for second cycle university of applied sciences degrees is given by a relevant first cycle degree together with at least three years of relevant work or artistic experience.

Studies leading to the degree provide the student with:

  1. broad and advanced knowledge and skills for developing the professional field as well as the theoretical skills for working in demanding expert and leadership positions in the field.
  2. profound understanding of the field, its relation to working life and society at large as well as the knowledge and skills needed for following and analyzing both theoretical and professional developments in the field.
  3. capacity for life-long learning and continuous development of one’s own expertise.
  4. good language and communication skills for working in one’s own field and for international work and co-operation.

Second cycle university of applied sciences degree comprises advanced professional studies, elective studies, and a final project.


THE CONTRIBUTORS
Jennifer Minke
Jennifer Minke

Assistant Director of Admissions, Tarrant County College District

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