What kind of education and training will the new higher education community offer in its first few years? The offerings will be largely based on the existing programmes that will be complemented by new degree programmes and study modules.
The development of the new higher education community’s curriculum has continued intensively throughout the spring. The decisions on the range of study programmes provided will ultimately be made by the new Tampere University’s Academic Board.
The Tampere3 Preparation Group for Education has listed seven new educational offerings, which are based on ideas provided by eleven working groups involved in curriculum development.
“The working groups consist of experts who represent similar fields in the three higher education institutions. They’ve looked at what we have in common at the degree level and what kind of competence each degree creates, says Chairman of the Preparation Group for Education, TUT’s Vice President Petri Suomala.
“For example, the planning of the degree programme in biotechnology and biomedical engineering is already well underway, whereas the Business Growth programme is only just starting to take shape. The result may ultimately be a study module instead of a degree programme.”
In addition to the seven new educational offerings, extensive educational collaboration will also be conducted in other fields, especially in ICT, social welfare and healthcare, mechanical engineering and civil engineering.
What, then, will the education and training provided by the upcoming higher education community be like? According to Suomala, the lion’s share will consist of the existing study programmes.
“It is important to remember that we are not having to reinvent the education and training currently provided by the higher education institutions. The new study programmes are more like a cherry on top.”
Based on discussions within the community, the Preparation Group for Education has identified content-oriented focus areas, or education and training pillars – areas in which we are already strong and in which we can become even better together.
Firstly, the combination of social sciences and engineering is unique among Finnish universities. An excellent example of this is the training of multidisciplinary smart society professionals. Another main area of education and training is health and well-being, in which curriculum work is focusing on updating degrees and developing close cooperation with the fields of social welfare, healthcare and medicine. The third pillar is information and communications technology (ICT). In addition to ICT experts, there is a considerable need for ICT skills that complement other expertise in practically all fields. The fourth pillar is management expertise, which cuts across all other fields.
In addition to the content of the study programmes, Suomala emphasises the key values corresponding to the educational vision, such as the well-being of students and staff as well as the view that students are active members of the community.
Collaboration between the three higher education institutions has already been conducted in the form of cross-institutional studies, for example. While experience has shown that some students are willing to study on a number of campuses, most students prefer to stay in one location.
“We have taken the necessary steps, but there is still much to do before we have an extensive, shared range of education and training provided across the three campuses. There is a lot of work to do in terms of facilitating mobility and shuttling between the campuses.”
Another key element in the development of education is flexible study paths. One example of this could be engineering students integrating social science courses into their degree. Flexibility also means that students can transition from the university to the university of applied sciences and vice versa, provided that certain conditions are met.
In addition to degree programmes, lifelong learning services will also play a major role in the upcoming higher education community. These services are also being currently developed.
“We believe that lifelong learning services are a crucial part of the community’s education and training task. We can provide education and training through the open university and offer tailored education and training for specific target groups and specific purposes.”
Text: Sara Riihimäki
Photo: Petri Laitinen