The future of higher education in the UK is destined to look quite different in comparison to how it does today. As education online gradually follows the footsteps of the USA and grows in popularity with full and part-time UK students, others are seeking to establish an open content higher education service that might eventually result in a high quality University of Europe. So what can we learn from the education system of Finland?
The reason for this short analysis of the Finnish education system came in the form of an article concerning Nokia in The Dallas Morning News today (February 9th). It seems that the mobile phone giant has established a headquarters at Espoo, not far from Helsinki, in an clever attempt to benefit from a higher education system that is, “skewed toward getting a master’s degree…It gives us conceptually strong students with a wealth of theory, specialization and a capacity to learn – the one real gem that this system gives better than any other I have seen.” (Heikki Norta.)
In fact, the Finnish education system has long been noted for the incredible proficiency of its students. In 2004, the BBC reported of the publication of findings by the Programme for International Student Assessment; Finland came top for overall mathematics proficiency, as well as achieving the best mean reading and science scores – ahead of Korea, Hong-Kong, and the Netherlands.
One of the key differences with Finnish education is the fact that after primary education, students are then allowed to focus on traditionally separate vocational (Trade School) or academic studies (Upper Secondary School). After students complete their secondary schooling, those from tertiary education are expected to enter the workplace, whilst those following the academic route are essentially taught in preparation for the certainty of higher or tertiary education.
Unlike the UK and USA, the Finnish education system causes the majority of its students to enroll in courses in quite different subjects such as engineering, computer science, and maths, whereas here and stateside, English, Graphics, and Media thrive pushing students to an already-saturated workplace. Simply, Finnish student are preparing themselves for jobs that are yet to be available. Conclusively, the success of a system such as this means that an open content University of Europe scenario will only be a good thing for the UK, presuming that the fins want to get involved.