Reformed Education

New students have more Master’s degree studies to choose from. Careers and digitalisation are also an increasingly integral part of studies.

Last autumn, the University of Helsinki substituted major subjects with degree programmes. This change is part of the Big Wheel reform, where Bachelor’s and Master’s level studies are increasingly separate from each other.

“The reform gives students time to think about their path even during their Bachelor’s level studies. The content of the degree programmes exceeds that of the major subjects, and one degree programme provides opportunities for applying to several Master’s programmes,” says Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta, Director of Development at Teaching and Learning Services.

Whereas the number of fields open for application used to be close to 200, today there are 32 Bachelor’s programmes and 61 Master’s programmes available. However, this does not mean that the number of disciplines has decreased. Individual degree programmes may include studies from several disciplines or even faculties, and studies can also be selected from outside the student’s own degree programme. On the other hand, the content of certain degree programmes – for example, in medicine – is quite similar to the earlier major subjects.

In addition to structures, the Big Wheel reform has revolutionised content.

“Our aim is increased relevance to professional life, so that students will gain multidisciplinary expertise in, for example, social interaction and networking,” says Niinistö-Sivuranta.

All Bachelor’s programmes include 10 credits worth of studies that emphasise career skills. In addition to traditional traineeships, studies can include projects where commissions given by businesses or other communities and related to the particular field are solved. Visits to businesses are organised in an increasingly systematic manner to provide students information on the career paths of professionals.

“Alumni representatives are more than welcome to share their experiences with students.”

Niinistö-Sivuranta admits that some old students have reacted to the reform with uncertainty.

“They may, however, complete their studies in accordance with the old degree requirements until the end of the academic year 2019–2020 or start immediately in a new degree programme.”

New students have given surprisingly positive feedback on the degree programmes.

The digitalisation of learning and teaching methods will also continue steadily. Many degree programmes are already utilising different forms of instruction, with students viewing instruction videos before lectures. This way, lectures can begin with discussion.

“With the help of technology, it is possible to actively engage even a large group of students,” says Niinistö-Sivuranta.

Examinations are also becoming increasingly electronic, which will in time spread to entrance examinations. Changes are not limited to this: according to the Ministry of Education and Culture, by 2020 the majority of student admissions will be based on school certificates. The entrance examination path will still be preserved, and admissions through the Open University will be facilitated.

“In 2018, the biggest changes concern entrance examinations, with the time for preparation shortened. The scope of entrance examination material will be reduced, and it will be published only a month before the examinations. This will reduce stress for those applicants who complete their matriculation examination in the same spring, while diminishing the need for training courses.”

Further information on the degree programmes of the University of Helsinki is available here: