Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe


Stakeholder Survey Overview

As part of our research we carried out a survey of Education & Training stakeholders. Find the results of this survey below or download it.

Legislation & Policy Overview

The following section gives an overview of the national PHE environment within Finland. The profile was completed by Tallinna Tehnikakõrgkool University of Applied Sciences.

Section A: General Profile of PHE

1. How is PHE defined in your country?

The Finnish PHE is defined as polytechnics as following:” Polytechnics form part of the system of higher education. Polytechnics and universities together constitute the system of higher education.”

Commentary: The Finnish Parliament and Ministry of Education and Culture use English name Polytechnics,all Finnish PHE– Institutes have used name Universities of Applied Sciences from 2006 (by Decision of Rectors Conference of Universities of Applied Sciences Arene on December 2006).

1.1 What is your nationally recognised definition of a PHE Institution?

PHE are all Universities of Applied Sciences, other as in Act 2003.

Commentary: Internationally the name UAS is better than Polytechnics to PHE, because in some countries the polytechnics are the name of second level vocational education not PHE.

1.2 Are there any specific requirements towards PHE Curriculum/Course?

The degree programmes leading to first-cycle polytechnic degrees and their curriculum shall have an extent of no less than three and no more than four academic years of full-time study. For special reasons, the degree may also take longer than four years. The degree programmes leading to second cycle polytechnic degrees and their curricula shall have an extent of no less than one academic year and no more than one and a half years of full-time study.

Commentary: Most degree programs of first cycle are three and a half .

2. Which EQF Levels does PHE cover?

EQF Level 5 – No
EQF Level 6 – Yes
EQF Level 7 – Yes
EQF Level 8 – No

3. Which governmental bodies are responsible for governance of the PHE sector? Do these differ from the governance of AHE? Is there any engagement of any other public authorities and which, if so?

The Ministry of Education and Culture. That’s the same in both HE sectors.

4. Quality assurance: Please provide information on quality-related legislation (national QA/accreditation system, regulations concerning QA at institutional level etc.). Are there any specific QA criteria for PHE? If so, which (if necessary, refer to specific EQF levels or institutions)?

Quality assessment: 1. A polytechnic shall be responsible for the quality and continuing development of the education and other activities it provides. The polytechnic shall evaluate its education and other activities and their impact. The polytechnic shall also participate in external evaluation of its operation and quality assurance system on a regular basis and publish the findings of its evaluation.  2. Attached to the Ministry of Education and Culture is Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC), further provisions on which are enacted by Government Degree.

Commentary: Government Degree on FINHEEC (794/2009) Section 1.: “The mission of FINHEEC shall be to:1) assist the higher education institutes and the Ministry of Education in matters pertaining to evaluation;2) conduct evaluations relating to the activities and quality assurance systems of higher education institutes;3) support quality assurance and enhancement in higher education institutions; and 4) participate in international evaluation activities and cooperation concerning evaluation.(See www.kka.fi/en/Degree on FINHEEC.

5. Are there any specific funding mechanisms/principles/criteria for PHE, different from general HE principles?

The overall funding comprises allocated to universities in the state budget and supplementary funding (paid services, donations, sponsoring). Total funding for universities comprises appropriations allocated to universities in the State Budget and supplementary funding. Direct government funding for universities accounts for about 64% of their total funding.  Polytechnic funding granted by Ministry of Education and Culture comprises core funding, project and performance based funding and funding for common polytechnic expenditure.  Core funding is granted to cover polytechnics´ operating costs.Each polytechnic is assigned a unite price per student, which is determined according to the number of students in different fields of education (70%) and the number of degrees completed at the polytechnic over the period of two years (30%). Unit prices are calculated every fourth year on the basis of actual costs. Polytechnic investments are not funded separately.  Polytechnic core funding forms part of the system of central governments transfer to local authorities, which means that local authorities cover their share of costs by a contribution calculated per municipal resident. The State covers from core funding 41,89% and municipalities 58,11%. Through project funding granted to polytechnics, the Ministry of Education and Culture supports achievement of objectives set for national higher education policy for polytechnics.  The Minisrty of Education and Culture also grants polytechnics performance based funding. The aim is to encourage polytechnics to operate efficiently and cost-efficiently and to improve their quality and effectiveness. The criteria for performance based funding include the institutional structure, student recruitment, efficiency and quality of study process, internationalization, research and development, as well as regional impact and co-operation with the world of work.

Commentary: The funding system of HE is changing to more result-based in both higher education sectors. Universities started with new funding model, based on results of education and research and to strategic part of funding, on 2013. Universities of Applied Sciences (polytechnics) started with new more result based funding model on 2014. The funding criterias of this model are based on the results in Education and RDI. The new law is accepted in Finnish Parliament in 14.6.2013.

6. Are there any formal requirements for stakeholders, in particular from the part of the professional sphere/employers’ representatives concerning their engagement in PHE steering and provisions? If so, in which areas (governance, quality assurance, curriculum development, students’ placement etc.)?

In the Polytechnic Act orders from the Internal Board of Polytechnics as following: “The board shall be presided over by the rector. In addition, the board shall include the representation of the other leadership, full time teachers, other full-time staff and full-time degree students of polytechnic and representatives of business and industry and other sectors of the labour market.  The number of members from each of the groups referred to in subsection (1) shall constitute less than half of the total number of board members, subject to the provision that the members representing business and industry and other sectors of the labour market may constitute no more than one third of the total number of board members. Board members may have deputies.”

7. Are there any other legislative differences between PHE and other HE institutions (e.g. partnership with enterprises, regional involvement etc.)?

Yes, there are differences between University Act and Polytechnic Act in Mission of those (Chapter 1 in both Acts) and Chapter 3 Organisation (Univ Act) and Chapter 4 Polytechnic administration (Polyt Act).

Commentary: Acts with on Appendix

8. Is PHE limited to some specific branches and/or fields of study? If yes: Which ones?

Polytechnics give education in following areas:  Humanities and education; Culture; Social Sciences, Business and Administration; Natural Sciences; Technology, Communication and Transport; Natural Resources and the Environment; Social Sercices, Health and Sports, Catering and Domestic Services.

Commentary: The biggest areas in UASs (polytechnics) are Business and Administration; Social Services and Health care and Technology.  In UASs the education in all these areas is offered on degree levels Bachelor and Master. We don´t have Doctoral level programmes in UASs, only in universities (AHE). 

Section B: Teaching & Staffing

1. Are there any formally set requirements for academic staff teaching at different levels in PHE (e.g their qualification, expertise, selection & appointment)? Are they different from AHE?

“1. A polytechnic has tenures and posts for principal lectures and senior lectures.2.  A polytechnic may have lectures and visiting lectures. 3. The staff of polytechnic, with the exception of the rector, vice-rector and other senior leadership, shall be appointed or hired by the polytechnic.  Provisions on the polytechnic teachers qualification requirements and duties shall be issued by Government Degree.”  Principal lecturer must have Licentiates or Doctors degree in applied area, senior lecturer must have Masters degree in applied area. Both if they are teaching in professional area must have three years working experience in applied area.

2. Are there any specific requirements for PHE staff work (teaching/research) arrangements and workload? If so, which? How do they differ from AHE?

Those are regulated in collective labor agreement. Principal lectors and senior lectors workload/year is 1600 hours, from which 400 hours teacher can choose his- or herself the time and place for working. All teachers must also have eight (8) weeks (56 calender days) free period in summertime (between 2nd of May and 30th of September and also 4 week (28 calender days) free period on time of two semester (between 1st of October and 1st of May).  It is totally different than teachers in AHE. Professors has much smaller amount time for teaching and more time to make research.

Commentary: In universities we have professors and senior lecturers and their work arrangements are different from PHE-teachers.

3. Are there requirements to include non-academia (professionals) to teach in PHE institutions? What qualifications must they have if any?

Mostly this requirements comes directly from individual UAS or from the maintaining organization of the UAS. In the Polytechnic Act sais following: “1. The official tenures and posts and their holders in a municipal polytechnic shall be covered by the provisions of the Local Government Act (365/1995) and the Act on Municipal Postholders (304/2003), unless otherwise provided in this Act.  2. The employees in a private polytechnic shall be governed by the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act (55/5001), unless otherwise provided in this Act.  3. A decision made by a polytechnic to employ a person to a public service post or to terminate or cancel an employment relation with a holder of a public-service post may be appealed against as provided in the Local Government Act. A decision made by a polytechnic concerning the hiring of a person in an employment relation or termination or cancellation of an employment contract shall come under the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act.”

Section C: Curriculum

1. Are there any specific requirements as regards contents/structure (e.g. percentage of practically oriented modules) as regards PHE? If so, which? What are the differences with respect to AHE?

In the Polytechnic Act says as following:  “The Ministry of Education And Culture shall decide on the degree programmes on the proposal of a polytechnic in accordance with further provisions issued by Government Degree. The polytechnic shall decide on the syllabi (curriculum) of the degree programmes as stipulated in the degree regulations of the polytechnic.”  In the Government Degree of Polytechnics regulates as following: “The Studies for the polytechnic (UAS) Degree studies consist of: 1) basic and professional studies; 2) optional studies; 3) practical training; and 4) Bachelor´s thesis.  Master´s Degree Studies of Polytechnic (UAS) consist of: 1) Advanced specialist studies; 2) Free-choice studies; and 3) The Master´s thesis.”  “The studies leading to Degree will organized as Educational Programs. In Educational Program can be different orientation alternatives.” The Ministry of Education and Culture will decide from Educational Programs.”  The general goals of Bachelor´s Degree Programmes is presented in Section 7 and the general goals of Master´s Degree Programmes is presented in Section 7a of the Government Degree of Polytechnics. From the curriculum is decided in Section 9: In the curriculum shall order the goals of different study period, the extent (or broadness) of study periods in credit points, the amount of teaching and practical training and the demanded performances. A part of teaching can organized in the working places.”

Commentary: The system will chance at the beginning of 2014. In the new Government Degree the Educational Programmes will determine as educational responsibilities (the same system than the universities has already nowadays.

2. Are there any specific requirements as regards practical elements of PHE study programmes (e.g. work experience/Practical placements/Internships)? If so, which? What are the differences with respect to AHE?

There are practical training periods. Its broadness is different in different Bachelor Degree Programmes. In technical sector (engineer programmes) the practical training period lasts 30 credit points and in health care sector (for example nursing program) it lasts 75 credit points with is the broadest. In all other areas Bachelor Degree Programmes are 30 or little more credit points but less than 75.

3. Are there any other legal requirements specific for PHE programs?

In the social welfare and health care sector in all professions they have general directives to European level. In marine sector in sea-captain programmes machine engineer they have international directives. In technical sector they have some different requirements in electrical engineering and in construction sector.

Section D: Research & Technology Transfer

1. What is the involvement of PHE in R&D&I&TT activities? Are there any formal differences at different levels/institutions of PHE?

In the Polytechnic Act it is defined as following: “… and carry out applied research and development that serves polytechnic education, supports the world of work and regional development, and takes the industrial structure into account. In executing these tasks, polytechnic shall promote lifellong learning.”  In carrying out its mission, a polytechnic shall cooperate with business and industry and other sectors of the labor market, in particular within its own region, and with Finnish an foreign higher education institutions and other educational establishments.”

Commentary: This RDI-sector has been whole time the groving sector in Finnish UASs. Total budget of UASs RDI activities in the year 2012 was 165 million euro, which is about 17,5 percent from the whole budget of the UAS system in Finland.  The RDI-system of Finnish UASs was evaluated by international evaluation group on 2011. You can find the  evaluation report (in English) from the www-page of FINHEECs, address www.kka.fi/publications :  FINHEEC Oublications 7:2012, From the bottom up –Evaluation of RDI activities of Finnish UASs. 

2. Are public research programs restricted to some types of HEIs (e.g. academic sector)? If so, what are the criteria?

Yes, the programmes of Academy of Finland are directed almost only to research universities, not to UASs.

Commentary: Mostly nowadays the funding of UASs RDI comes from different EU-programmes and from different Ministries RDI-programmes, some comes from local authorities and some from TEKES (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (www.tekes.fi).  From the beginning of the year 2014 the new funding model of UASs means that there is as a whole about 15% of basic funding directed to funding of RDI activities.

Section E: Recognition & Credit Transfer

1. Are there formal differences in the enrolment process into PHE and AHE?

Yes nowadays there is, but in the Ministry of Education and Cukture they are developing the same electrical application process, which will be maybe ready at the end of 2014. Nowadays in each Faculties of Universities has their own application system and UASs have their general electrical application system, which has differences between different educational areas.

2. Are there formal paths for transfer from PHE into other HE programmes (for graduates, during the study)? Are there automatic transfers for students between PHE and AHE? Do students need bridging programmes or other means of transition?

Yes, there are some paths to go from UAS to traditional university mostly in the same professional area of education. They hove bridging programmes in some areas.  In the University Act there are following possibilities: “Eligible for studies leading only to a higher university degree shall be a person: (2) who has an applicable polytechnic degree;  The university may reguira a student admitted to study for a university degree referred to in subsection 2 to complete supplementary studies of an extent requiring a maximum of one year studies in order to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for the studies.”  “Eligible for studies leading to an academic or artistic postgraduate degree shall be person who has completed:  (2) an applicable higher polytechnic degree:”  The university may require a student admitted to study for an academic or artistic postgraduate degree complete necessary supplementary studies in order to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for studies.”

Commentary: In the Polytechnic Act there are not same requirements for the student which are transferring from university sector.

3. Are there any specific regulations concerning employment of PHE graduates? Do you need to justify delivery of certain PHE studies? e.g provide evidence of labour market needs or collect data on employability of graduates).

There are regulations in health care sector. In this sector the graduates must get their licenses from the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) before they have after graduation possibility to go to work.

Commentary: In some other working areas are some regulations too. Into marine area sea-captain must have the license and some technical areas there must have a license to make some works (electrical area and construction).

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