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Dual Qualification in Finland
Experimental reform
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(1) National framework of the scheme; 
(2) Major features of the scheme;
(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme;
(4) Organisational implications of the scheme;
(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect. 
Info unit 1 of 5 
Finland: Experimental reform

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(1) National framework of the scheme

The Finnish contribution to the DUOQUAL project focuses on the experimental reform of upper secondary education which is aimed at promoting upper secondary education by establishing cooperation between general and vocational upper secondary institutions and which provides students with an opportunity to combine general and vocational upper secondary studies by alternating between schools. One outcome of the experiments has been the option of studying simultaneously for a vocational qualification and the Matriculation Examination. 
    The starting point for the experimental reform was an evaluation of the problems of the Finnish educational system carried out in 1989. The problems identified in the evaluation were high drop-out rates, studying for multiple qualifications, ineffective use of existing study places, prolonged study times and lack of  trained employees in some fields of industry. The experiment was started in 16 experimental units in 1992 and its organisation is based on regional networking between upper secondary education institutions. 
    In general, about half of students choose general upper secondary studies after completing their compulsory education, while one third take this first opportunity to enter vocational education. Immediately after general upper secondary studies about a fifth of the students continue their studies in either school-level or higher vocational education and about a sixth goes to universities. Within a few years altogether a third of them has found their study places in universities and about a  third in school-level or vocational higher education. 

Sources
DUOQUAL 
Contact

Maarit Virolainen
Info unit 2 of 5 
Finland: Experimental reform

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(2) Major features of the scheme

Tools of the experiment are:
(a) co-operation between general upper secondary and vocational education institutions;
(b) increased freedom of choice incorporated into national curricula to allow students to construct personal study programmes; and 
(c) new concepts of teaching/learning (drawing upon ideas such as student-centredness, cognitive apprenticeship, open learning and constructivism). 
    In practice, new concepts of learning have been embraced in inter-institutional co-operation by organising courses cutting across traditional subject boundaries. The results of increased student choice are the most prominent outcome of the reform. Within the experiment students are allowed to choose 30-40% of their studies from other educational institutions in the region. The inter-school provision to be offered to students is negotiated locally as are the equivalencies between the courses.

Sources
DUOQUAL 
Contact

Maarit Virolainen
Info unit 3 of 5 
Finland: Experimental reformo

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(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme

The student choice incorporated into the curriculum in the experimental reform is expected to teach students such meta-skills as planning their own studies and setting aims for their own learning. Freedom of choice within the regional provision is also expected to make the educational structure more transparent. The educational concept behind the freedom of choice is not laissez-faire. It is expected that the scheme makes the structure of the educational system more transparent to students and teaches them to plan of their own studies as well as accepting responsibility for their own choices. The freedom of choice is also expected to motivate students as they have the opportunity to build personal study programmes. The flexibility in the curricula allows more sensitivity towards individual differences. Guidance and counselling has been promoted by education to teachers and peer groups in order to support the students´ making of choices. The hidden curriculum of the flexibility in the curricula is related to the ‘new‘ job skills demanded by working life and it is expected to teach the students self -guidance of their own working and learning processes.

Sources
DUOQUAL 
Contact

Maarit Virolainen
Info unit 4 of 5 
Finland: Experimental reform

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(4) Organisational implications of the scheme

The experiments were started on the basis of local aspirations. Municipalities and consortia of municipalities proposed themselves as experimental units to the Ministry of Education. The law launching the experiments stipulated the appointment to each unit of a local management group consisting of head-teachers, and representatives of those financing the schools and of teachers and students. On the local level, the establishment of inter-school co-operation has also meant constructing networks focusing on selected tasks such as guidance, counselling, tutoring, administration, curriculum comparison, harmonising timetables, organisation of open learning situations, evaluation and so on. Financial support for the experiments from the Ministry of Education has been very limited, and basically funding the experimental development work has depended on local decisions. Financing for the experiments was cut down because of the depression in the beginning of the 1990s which hit Finnish society hard. At the same time the Finnish state has been transferring educational planning, decision-making powers and ownership of institutions to municipalities or federations of municipalities.

Sources
DUOQUAL 
Contact

Maarit Virolainen
Info unit 5 of 5 
Finland: Experimental reform

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(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect

The launching of the experiment has meant that allowing students to construct personal study programmes and adopting student-centred approaches have become central principles of Finnish education. While the effects of the youth education experiment are most easily observed in the proportion of students making inter-school choices, increasing student choice in the curriculum has not meant and should not mean making choices for the sake of making choices. Students have welcomed their freedom of choice even when they do not themselves make use of it. The percentage of students making inter-school choices has been rising slowly. On average, 30-40% of the students choose studies from other schools. 
    However, there are great differences between institutions and experimental units. The number of courses taught in other institutions followed by the students is quite limited. In the school year 1996-1997, 17 per cent of the students took 1-3 credits from other institutions. Less than a tenth of them take more than 9 credits. An outcome of the experiment has been the provision of double qualifications, the option of a simultaneous completion of vocational studies and studies preparing for the Matriculation Examination. Approximately six per cent of the students have taken the opportunity recently.
    The experimental scheme has won acceptance step by step. The law launching it was first enacted in 1991. The law expanded inter-institutional co-operation to enable students to make optimal use of the educational provision relevant to their qualifications, and in 1995 the Development Plan for Education and University Research for the Years 1995-2000 proposed further expanding their opportunities to construct personal study programmes. The experimental scheme of inter-institutional co-operation has also been adopted by municipalities outside the experiment. According to data collected by the National Board of Education in 1997, inter-institutional co-operation had been taken up in some form or another in 49 municipalities not participating in the experiment.

Sources
DUOQUAL 
Contact

Maarit Virolainen

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Latest update: 25/04/2000
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