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JAMK University of Applied Sciences is the only institute in Finland to pilot the Diploma of Higher Education, involving modules worth 60 ECTS credits that consist of parts of degrees and provide the student with tailored skills and a certificate. Diploma of Higher Education studies at JAMK have been offered in gerontological rehabilitation, purchasing professional, HR and financial specialist and agricultural entrepreneur business competence.

– The training has been provided via the Open University of Applied sciences, and the pilot was mainly funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Unlike many other training programmes, the Diploma of Higher Education has no requirements regarding earlier education or work experience,  says Tytti Pintilä, Project Manager for the project.

Application for the pilot training modules took place in April 2014, and all 85 places were filled in the order of registration. An aptitude test was held for gerontological rehabilitation.  Two of the modules were filled in two weeks. The training began in August 2014, and the studies continued until the end of 2015.

The number of students getting the diploma will probably be around 50.  Of these, half had an earlier post-secondary degree, some did not have much experience with post-secondary studies, and the majority were women. Some of the students had been in the working life for a long time, but others were unemployed.

The Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER), based at the University of Jyväskylä, carried out a follow-up study of the Diploma of Higher Education pilot. Helena Aittola, Senior Researcher at FIER, says that the students provided positive feedback on the training.

– 60 ECTS credits are enough to enable profound concentration on the topics. The participants gained more competence to benefit them in their work. The training was not just about the teacher sharing information to the students.

– it was based on the sharing of experiences among the group, Aittola says.

In FIER’s estimation, the training has its place in Finland.

– There is a need in Finland for more extensive competence modules that are based on the needs of working life and are of academic quality, Aittola notes. The report recommends that the planning and provision of similar training modules be continued as part of the operations of the Open University of Applied Sciences.