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Poll indicates declining satisfaction among vocational school students

One out of five students polled in a new survey is considering dropping out of vocational school, down from one in ten two years ago.

Opiskelija hitsaa.
Image: Sakari Partanen / Yle

Satisfaction in vocational school training in Finland appears to be falling, if the findings of a new student poll are any indication. A survey from the vocational student union OSKU suggests that one in four students training for a profession is not happy with the instruction provided.

After pupils in Finland complete their compulsory primary education, they can opt for a general upper secondary school ("lukio") or a vocational upper secondary school education. Most vocational programmes take three years, and over 40 percent of young people in Finland have chosen this option in the last few years.

The 2018 poll results indicate that the most common reasons the vocational school students are dissatisfied with their studies are dwindling hours in the classroom and disruptive classroom settings. Close to half of respondents said they wish they had more time for one-on-one conversations.

One out of every three students studying subjects in the forestry and agricultural sector said they were not satisfied with the quality of education they received, while students in health and wellbeing-related areas were most satisfied.

One in five, or twenty percent of respondents said they were considering dropping out of their vocational programme, a clear increase from two years ago, when the poll found that one in ten of vocational students held a similar view.

Proud and motivated to be an "Amis" student

The survey suggests that vocational school students are motivated and proud of their chosen professions -- some ninety percent of this year's students described themselves as proud, a percentage that has gone unchanged for the last ten years. A further 84 percent said they were motivated, with people over 24 years of age expressing the highest motivation levels.

Even so, every third respondent said that public discourse in Finland has affected their view of vocational education negatively. Women in particular reported feeling this way.

"The worst experiences I've had have been people's disparaging comments about vocational schools. They say that the vocational school option is not important, or doesn't qualify you for anything – that anybody could graduate," said one student answering the survey.

In 2017 the Finnish government overhauled vocational education to make it "more responsive to changes in work life and adopt a more customer-oriented and competence-based approach". The reform introduced more performance-based benchmarks for how the schools are funded, effectively reducing their budget by 190 million euros.

The Amis 2018 poll was published Friday and is the fifth in a series. Over 4,500 students of vocational schools participated in the poll.

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