Diploma of Higher Education ("Korkeakouludiplomi") is a national pilot project in Finland which aims to develop structured competence modules that consists of parts of degrees. The pilot investigates the needs of working life for new modules narrower in scope than existing degrees and how they best meet the needs of students with various backgrounds. JAMK is the only UAS in Finland to be granted an appropriation for the pilot by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Diploma of higher education StudentsThe Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER), University of Jyväskylä, carried out an evaluation and follow-up study on the Diploma of Higher Education pilot project.

Study assesses the position of the diploma of higher education in the Finnish post-secondary education system, the impact of the learning process and the significance of the model from the viewpoint of employers and students. It also provides suggestions for development. The final report was published in January 2016.

 Research findings

  • About a half of the students held a higher education degree and another half held a vocational degree.
  • Most of the students had a long and well-rounded work experience - need for new competences, career development, employment.
  • Most students considered that the Diploma of Higher Education studies had broadened and deepened their competences for different work tasks.
  • Students were satisfied both with the content and with the various forms of implementation. Flexible and online models were mostly well-suited to their own studies.
  • Nearly a third of the students were going to apply for a degree programme in a university of applied sciences.
  • Diploma of Higher Education studies were considered to suit well to people coming from various educational and work experience backgrounds.


  • It is recommendable to continue the planning and provision of this type of large study programmes as part of open higher education activities.
  • Like in the pilot project, the study modules should consist of components included in higher education degrees so that these modules can ease the student’s transition into the degree programmes.
  • It is advisable to design the study modules in collaboration with representatives of the world of work in order to ensure that the modules can flexibly respond to the changing needs of working life.
  • The selected  teaching  practices  should  ensure  sufficient  guidance  and  feedback  for  students, and attention should also be paid to team formation and peer support among students - experienced students with various backgrounds can support each others and learn from one another.
  • In Finland, there is a need for higher education programmes that are narrower in scope than the  actual  degree  programmes: more flexible and faster way to answer to the needs of the working life, need for broaden and deepen competences (career development, employment, developing own work)
  • No need for so-called short  cycle  higher  education  degrees in Finnish education system

Learn more from our publication

JAMK´s publication Competence Modules for Everyone addresses the higher education policies and international development that had an impact on Diplomas of Higher Education. Four pilot programmes are described in detail. The implementation and the significance of the model is also evaluated and suggestions to further development of such competence modules are given.

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Diploma of Higher Education Model

  • competence based higher education diploma: the study modules consist of components included in higher education degrees
  • 60 credits / 1,5-2 years flexible studies
  • open to all and low costs: higher education -level studies for all
  • studies can be later accredited in the degree studies
  • diploma of higher education can flexibly respond to the changing needs of the working life