Universities of Applied Sciences
Universities of applied sciences (UAS) comprise the Finnish educational system along with general universities and universities of technology and art. There are 26 universities of applied sciences in Finland, operating in some 70 different locations.
The Ministry of Education and Culture administers 24 of the universities of applied sciences. In addition to these, the Police University College and Åland University of Applied Sciences are administered by the Ministry of the Interior.
Universities of applied sciences are regulated by various acts and decrees.
These acts and decrees can be found on the Finnish legislative and judicial database, Finlex, at: www.finlex.fi
Key pieces of legislation are: Polytechnics Act 351/2003
Decree on Polytechnics 352/2003
More acts and decrees can be found on the Ministry of Education and Culture website
Finnish education system
The mission of universities of applied sciences
The mission of universities of applied sciences is stated in the UAS Act.
"Working on research, artistic and cultural premises, universities of applied sciences shall provide higher education for professional expert jobs based on the requirements of working life and its development; support the professional growth of individuals and carry out applied research and development, [innovation and artistic work] that serves universities of applied sciences education, supports the world of work and regional development, and takes the industrial structure of the region into account. In executing these tasks, universitites of applied sciences shall promote lifelong learning."
Steering and financial model for universities of applied sciences
A key aspect of the steering between the Ministry of Education and Culture and universities of applied sciences is regular negotiations, in which the two parties agree on the mission for universities of applied sciences for a specified number of years as well as the quantitative and qualitative targets set for them. The monitoring and assessment of the realisation of these targets is also agreed upon in negotiations.
The steering and target setting of the Ministry of Education and Culture promotes the implementation of key educational and research development policies set by Parliament and the Government. In addition to the targets set for each university of applied sciences, common targets for institutions of higher education are jointly set by the Ministry of Education and Culture and these institutions. The targets set for universities of applied sciences are linked with the common targets for institutions of higher education.
Universities of applied sciences operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and Culture are divided into the following administrative groups:
- those administered by a joint municipal authority: 3
- those administered by a majority municipal-owned limited liability company: 16
- those administered by a privately-owned limited liability company or foundation: 5
The governing bodies of a university of applied sciences are the board and the rector, who serves as the president of the institution. A university of applied sciences should also have at least one board of examiners or a similar body. A university of applied sciences may also have other governing bodies in accordance with the rules and regulations.
Core funding for universities of applied sciences is provided by the State. The State share of core funding is 100%.
Universities of applied sciences apply for core funding in addition to separate funding for joint, national, development and regional projects. They may also apply for competitive RDI funding from national and international sources of funding.
Steering of university of applied sciences operations
In addition to acts and decrees, university of applied sciences operations are steered by performance agreements with the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as educational and research policy strategies and plans.
Longer term development targets concerning general educational policy are specified in the Government-approved Development Plan for Education and Research.
In the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Department for Education and Science Policy Polytechnics Unit. Universities of applied sciences and the Ministry of Education and Culture agree on three-year targets in performance agreements.
Both the targets set for all universities of applied sciences and each university's own targets are agreed upon in the performance agreements. Performance agreements are deliberated over in meetings and seminars held between the Ministry of Education and Culture and universities of applied sciences. Key stakeholders are also heard during the negotiation process.
Evaluation of universities of applied sciences
University of applied sciences operations are also evaluated using separate performance indicators. The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC), which was formerly the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC), is responsible for the quality control of universities of applied sciences. The aim of evaluation is to provide assistance to institutions of higher education and the Ministry of Education and culture in developing the quality of higher education operations, the education provided and the degrees and qualifications offered.
Quality assessment as stated in the UAS Act
"A university of applied science shall be responsible for the quality and continuing development of the education and other activities it provides. The university of applied science shall evaluate its education and other activities and their impact. The university of applied sciences shall also participate in external evaluation of its operation and quality assurance system on a regular basis and publish the findings of its evaluations (for the purpose of ensuring transparency and comparability)."