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Vocational universities launch new joint entrance exam

Starting this autumn, all aspiring university of applied sciences students will sit the same digital entrance exam.

Image: Minna Rinta-Tassi / Yle

This autumn, Finland's universities of applied sciences will roll out a new joint electronic entrance exam that will be the same for most applicants, no matter if they are looking to study towards a trade in the retail, hospitality, or agriculture sectors.

The blanket exam will assess applicants' general logic, language and communication skills, and will replace previous field-specific entrance exams to Finland's post-secondary institutions that teach a trade.

The test will take place in late October-early November. Participants will take the digital exam on their own computers at the vocational university to which they are applying as their first choice. In many cases, several different test sessions will be arranged for prospective students.

Some applicants may have additional field-specific questions

The new joint entrance examinations are part of a student intake development programme that started in 2017 at Finland's vocational universities. The programme's project manager, Marko Borodavkin from the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences is satisfied with the results.

"This is one of the most noteworthy student selection reforms in the history of Finnish polytechnics. It is a very large change, involving the entire sector," he says.

The exam will be the same for all applicants, but some of the potential students will also complete additional sections, dependent on the field of study they intend to pursue. Questions assessing mathematical skills will be required from everyone except applicants to subjects in the humanities and education sector, who will instead be asked questions assessing their ethical standards.

Every university of applied sciences in Finland will participate in the new entrance exam system, with the exception of polytechnic programmes that teach cultural disciplines, the Police University College and the Åland University of Applied Sciences.

Part of larger effort to streamline student selection

The reform is part of a larger transformation of student selection practices in Finland. Starting in the spring of 2020, all of Finland's higher education institutions will choose half of their incoming students on the basis of their matriculation exam results or school-leaving certificates alone.

Universities of applied sciences will in future have separate admission quotas for applicants who have completed matriculation exams and applicants with school-leaving certificates from vocational schools.

The admissions overhaul aims to simply the admissions process and speed up the transfer of students from secondary to tertiary education in Finland.

The autumn deadline for applying to universities in Finland is 18 September. Some 6,700 study places in over 250 different degree programmes are available in the autumn round of admissions, the majority of which are in Finland's network of vocational universities.