Studying at a university of applied sciences

The system of universities of applied sciences is based on Finland’s national and regional needs in education. Universities of applied sciences provide a practical alternative to academic universities and offer the highest level of education in the professional fields represented by them. During their studies, students acquire the theoretical knowledge and practical professional skills required in working life as well as the practical professional skills required of experts in a given field.

Teaching at universities of applied sciences is based on science but involves a practical orientation. A wide range of teaching and learning methods are utilised, and the amount of contact teaching is less than what would usually be expected. Hence, students are expected to take responsibility for their learning. Student-centered learning is an essential part of studies. Some of the studies may be online. In changing and developing society, information is constantly being renewed. For this reason, skills in communication and information search are emphasized, as well as the upkeep and development of one’s study and learning techniques. It is also important that students acquire a positive attitude toward lifelong learning while studying.

The aim of studies at universities of applied sciences is to train independent, creative experts capable of collaboration with others, who are internationally oriented and work in field-related jobs associated with planning/design, development, consultation, training, management and entrepreneurship in constantly changing and developing society.

One of the strengths of the universities of applied sciences lies in their international activities; indeed, international activities are an integral part of today’s working life. Students may complete a double degree or a joint degree in the fields of business and engineering based on the agreements of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and its partner universities abroad, or complete part of their studies or practical training abroad.

Studies completed abroad are accepted as part of the degree completed in Finland. Universities of applied sciences also offer degree programmes and individual courses that are taught completely in a foreign language. There are also foreign students from different parts of the world studying at universities of applied sciences.

Cooperation with business, labour, cultural and public and private organisations is an integral part of the activities of universities of applied sciences. Practical training, various projects and theses are implemented together with various companies and other organisations. Many students have said that the practical training is one of the best stages of their studies at a university of applied sciences. The traineeship post may have a significant impact on the student’s future, as it may be their first proper place of employment after they graduate.

SeAMKPro is the common open learning environment of SeAMK, in which students of different academic fields complete part of their studies by accumulating their learning through project work. Learning is based on commissions from working life. The students solve the assigned problems by experimenting, researching and utilizing their innovativeness and creativity. More information at www.seamk.fi/framipro.

Framework for degrees and other expertise

The European Qualification Framework (EQF) comprises eight (8) levels, which cover all the degrees from the basic level to the advanced level. The definitions of the EQF levels are based on the descriptions of the learning outcomes. The EQF describes the learner’s knowledge, skills and competence irrespective of the institution where they obtained their degree or qualifications. The EQF includes general education, vocational education and higher education.

The purpose of the framework for European degrees is to merge together the different degree systems in different countries to facilitate the comparability and understanding of degrees. The primary aim of the framework is to promote the mobility of citizens between countries and lifelong learning. A further aim is to improve the transparency and credit transfer of degrees as well as the recognition of learning acquired through experience as part of students’ studies.

The National Qualification Framework (NQF) provides descriptions of the degrees acquired in Finland and of the special competences acquired by people with higher education. The purpose of this framework is to describe the Finnish degrees and the competences they accrue in a uniform, comprehensible and comparable way. Expertise is described as knowledge, skills and competence, which are the foundation for setting goals and assessment.

In the Finnish National Qualification Framework, all the degrees are placed on one of the eight levels of the framework. Bachelor’s degrees of universities of applied sciences are placed on level 6 and Master’s degrees on level 7. The expertise required for the levels is described in the outline of the framework as follows:

NQF, Level 6
Bachelor’s degree earned at a university of applied sciences or at a university of science

CHas a wide range of advanced knowledge in a field, with a critical understanding and assessment of the related theories, key concepts, methods and principles. Understands the scope and boundaries of professional fields and/or disciplines. Has advanced skills, which indicate competence in learned knowledge, is able to apply learned knowledge and to generate creative solutions required in a specialised professional, scientific and artistic field to solve complex or unpredictable problems.

Is able to manage complex professional activities or projects or is able to work independently in field-related specialist job positions. Is capable of decision-making in unpredictable environments. Has the basic ability to work as an independent entrepreneur. Is able to take charge of the assessment and development of their know-how and of the development of individual people and groups.

Is ready to engage in continuous learning. Is able to communicate verbally and in writing with others within and outside the field. Is able to independently communicate and interact on an international level in one of the official languages in Finland and in at least one foreign language.

NQF, level 7
Master’s degree earned at a university of applied sciences or at a university of science

Has a wide range of highly advanced expertise in a field, including the key concepts, methods and knowledge used for independent thinking and/or as the foundation of research. Understands questions related to their field and to the interfaces of other fields and considers them and new information from a critical perspective. Is able to solve challenging problems pertaining to research and innovation activities, where new information and practices are developed and the knowledge of different fields is applied and combined.

Is able to work independently in demanding field-related expert job positions or as an entrepreneur. Is able to manage and develop complex, unpredictable and new strategic approaches. Is able to manage people and/or things. Is able to evaluate the activities of individuals and/or groups.
Is able to improve their field-related knowledge and practices and/or to bear responsibility for the development of others.

Is ready to engage in continuous learning. Is capable of good verbal and written communication with people both within and outside the field.
Is able to independently communicate and interact on an international level in one of the official languages in Finland and in at least one foreign language.

Generic competences for graduates of universities of applied sciences

Competences are understood as wide-ranging ensembles of expertise, i.e., combinations of knowledge, skills and attitudes possessed by individuals. Competences depict individuals’ proficiency, capacity and ability to perform professional duties.

The generic competences are common to all the degree programmes, but they may emphasise different types of knowledge and skills depending on the profession and duties. The generic competence lays a foundation for students’ participation and collaboration in working life as well as for their professional development.

Degree-specific competences form the foundation of students’ development of expertise. The degree-specific competences are described in the information pertaining to each Degree Programme.

Generic competences for graduates of universities of applied sciences
Recommendation by Arene (Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences)

Generic competences Description of the competence,
bachelor level
Description of the competence,
master level
Learning competence
  • is able to self-evaluate and develop their competence and learning style orientation
  • is able to retrieve, process and evaluate information critically
  • is capable of taking responsibility for collaborative learning and sharing knowledge
  • is able to self-evaluate and develop their expertise in a diverse and focused way
  • is able to retrieve, process, produce and evaluate information critically from the point of view of different fields
  • is capable of taking responsibility for collaborative learning in a target-oriented way
Ethical competence
  • is able to take responsibility for their own actions and for the consequences of these actions
  • is able to work according to the ethical principles of the subject field
  • is able to take other people into account in their own actions
  • is able to apply the principles of equality
  • is able to apply the principles of sustainable development
  • is capable of social influencing using their know-how and based on ethical values
  • is able to take responsibility for the actions of a community and for their consequences
  • is able to apply the ethical principles of the subject field as an expert and as a developer of working life
  • is able to make decisions considering an individual and the community
  • is able to contribute to the principles of equality in working life
  • is able to contribute to the principles of sustainable development and social responsibility
  • is capable of leading socially influential activities based on ethical values
Working community competence
  • is able to operate as a member of a work community and to promote the community’s well-being
  • is able to operate in communicative and interactive situations in working life
  • is able to utilize information and communications technology in their subject field
  • is able to create personal contacts in working life and to operate in professional networks
  • is capable of decision-making in unpredicted situations
  • is capable of management and leadership as well as independent work in expert tasks
  • possesses entrepreneurial skills
  • is able to develop the operations and well-being of a work community
  • is able to develop multidisciplinary communication and interaction in working life<
  • is able to utilize information and communications technology in their work
  • is able to create networks and partnerships
  • is capable of management and supervision tasks and of improving activities in complex and unpredictable environments
  • is able to work in demanding expert tasks, management and supervision tasks, or as an entrepreneur
Innovation competence
  • is able to conduct research, development and innovation projects applying the existing knowledge and methods of the field
  • is able to work in projects
  • is capable of creative problem solving and development of working methods
  • is able to find customer-oriented, sustainable and economic solutions
  • is able to manage research, development and innovation projects and masters the methods of research and development work
  • is able to manage project work
  • is able to create new information and improve existing working methods by combining expertise from different fields
  • is able to develop customer-oriented, sustainable and economic solutions
 Internationalization competence
  • possesses language skills necessary for work and professional development in their subject field
  • is able to operate in a multicultural environment
  • is able to take into account the effects and opportunities of internationalization in their own field
  • is capable of international communication in their work and in the development of operations
  • is able to operate in international environments
  • is able to predict the effects and opportunities of internationalization in their own field

In addition to the above-mentioned competences, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences emphasises the following generic competences:

Competence Description of competence:
Entrepreneurial competence
  • Understanding of the interaction between the operations of a company and the business environment and adoption of entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial way of action
  • Understanding of the principles associated with a profitable business and ability to analyse the operations and risks of a business
Quality control competence
  • Knowledge of the typical field-related quality control systems
  • Understanding the requirements of quality thinking and quality-control systems

Structure of the studies of universities of applied sciences

Studies at universities of applied sciences are organised into degree programmes, which vary in the number of credits they accrue (210 to 240) and the length of time required to complete the programme (3.5 to 4 years).

A degree programme is a course of study focusing on a specific working life task area requiring professional expertise and on its development.
Degree programmes may also have different elective lines of specialisation or areas of emphasis.

The studies leading to Bachelor’s degree consist of Basic Studies, Professional Studies, practical training, free elective studies and a Final Thesis/Project. The studies and the related teaching are organised into courses. There are compulsory, optional and free elective courses. The curriculum of each degree programme defines the extent of a course in credits (ECTS), and objective(s), content, literature/study material, learning methods, assessment and possible courses that students may be required to complete before attending the course in question. The curriculum may also define the RDI credits produced by the course.

The extent of the studies is measured with the ECTS credit unit system. Credits are allotted to courses according to the amount of work required to complete them. An average of 1,600 hours of work, required to complete one academic year of study, is equivalent to 60 ECTS credits.

Basic studies

Basic Studies provide students with an overall picture of the degree programme and the field studied. The development of theoretical knowledge, economic activity, environmental awareness and international activity are an essential part of Basic Studies. These studies also involve orientation into various learning methods, and there is special emphasis on the development of students’ language and communication skills. The extent of Basic Studies varies depending on the degree programme, but all the degree programmes of SeAMK include 20 credits of Common Basic Studies.

Professional Studies

During their Professional Studies, students are introduced to the essential professional issues and applications related to the degree programme, as well as to their underlying scientific, technological or artistic principles. Professional studies prepare students to work independently in expert tasks within their chosen field. Professional Studies are compulsory, optional or free elective.

Free elective studies

SStudents may take elective studies either at Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences or at other institutions of higher education in Finland and abroad. The decision on the approval and inclusion of elective studies in a student’s degree is made by the University of Applied Sciences. Before applying for free elective studies, a student must agree with the Head of Programme of their own degree programme on the inclusion of the studies in question as part of their degree.

Practical training promoting professional skills

The purpose of practical training is to orientate the student into the duties, practices and cultures related to their chosen professional field in a real work environment. Furthermore, the student learns to apply what they have learned into practise. Practical training is supervised and is usually divided into several parts. Practical training is obligatory and equivalent to 30 to 90 credits, depending on the degree programme.

Bachelor’s Thesis/Final Project

Toward the end of their studies, students are required to write a Bachelor’s thesis or final Project whereby they demonstrate their ability to apply theory into practise in practical expert tasks related to the Professional Studies. The thesis may be, for instance, a study or survey or a project-type R & D or design task. The thesis is presented as a written report. The thesis is equivalent to 15 credits. Upon completion of the thesis, the student takes the Maturity Test, at which they demonstrate their knowledge in their chosen subject area and their skills in using their first language.

Competence areas running through the studies in the curricula

The aim of the competence areas is that all studies (basic studies, professional studies, practical training promoting professional skills, thesis/final project) should show the development of the student’s competence in agreement with these areas throughout the student’s training. In the curricula, the following competence areas are made visible: data acquisition, internationalisation, entrepreneurship, sustainable development, and career counselling. The areas were selected based on surveys and studies made by SeAMK, SeAMK’s plans and strategies, as well as on the national and international recommendations and statutes related to education at universities of applied sciences.

The aim of the area of data acquisition is to strengthen the student’s professional and field-specific knowledge in data acquisition throughout their studies. Field-specific and need-oriented studies of data acquisition commit students and show how good skills in data acquisition help save time, boost their studies, and improve the quality of learning.

The aim of the area of internationalisation is to ensure the development of the student’s international skills during their studies. International skills require the student’s comprehensive professional and personal growth in order for the student to reach the ability to study, work and live in an international environment.

The aim of the area of entrepreneurship is to help the student understand the important and growing role of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activities in society. In future working life, it will be increasingly commonplace to work sequentially and partly simultaneously both in the public and the private sectors as a full-time or part-time entrepreneur. In practice, this will mean a significant increase in the needs for multi-professionalism and multidisciplinary competence.

The aim of the area of sustainable development is that the student will become aware of social responsibility and understand the diversity of sustainable development as a working life skill. In teaching, sustainable development is considered from the perspectives of ecological, economic, social and cultural sustainability.

The aim of the area of career counselling
is to support the student’s professional growth and help the student recognise their competencies and strengths. In addition to self-knowledge, career counselling involves knowledge of working life, job seeking skills, as well as gaining an understanding of the importance of choices and decision-making. Career counselling is provided multimodally throughout the studies, and it equips the student for working life and guides them towards lifelong learning.

Qualifications provided by the degrees earned at a university of applied sciences

A degree earned at a university of applied sciences provides qualifications for work in public posts or duties requiring a higher-education degree, a degree completed at an institution of higher education, a final degree of an institution of higher education, or a Bachelor’s degree (A464/1998)

A Master’s degree earned at a university of applied sciences degree provides qualifications for field-specific public posts and is equivalent to Master’s degrees earned at universities of science and at other institutions of higher education.

More information about the Master’s degrees of SeAMK is available in the section on adult education of the present guide.

The degrees in Finnish universities of applied sciences are equivalent to the corresponding degrees completed in other European universities of applied sciences.

Online studies

Online studies involve learning through communications networks. The purpose of online studies is to utilise modern tools and methods of study and to seek alternative ways to complete courses. Online studies are offered either in part or completely through communications networks, especially the Internet, and the material and services available there. The aim is to give all students the opportunity to complete part of their studies online.

Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences utilises the Moodle online learning environment to implement online courses at https://moodle.seamk.fi. Moodle offers teachers a diverse range of opportunities to plan and carry out online teaching and supervise students’ learning process. For students, the environment is easy to use and gives them the opportunity to study flexibly anywhere in the world.

Some courses may also utilise the Skype for Business virtual classroom software. Participating in these network lectures usually requires a headset that connects to a computer and/or merely a computer with an Internet connection. Courses may also utilise network software for social media.

Flexible study right (FSR)

Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and Vaasa University of Applied Sciences have signed an agreement on flexible study right (FSR). The aim of FSR is to expand the study supply of one’s own university (home university), increase the options, and to support the progress of studies. FSR studying is free of charge for the student. The student shall be attending at their home university to apply for FSR and complete studies at another institution of higher education.

The principle is that FSR studies are included in the normal extent of the degree. As a receiver of services supporting studies, a FSR student is entitled to the same services at the target university as a student of that university (e.g. library, ADP and guidance services). For more information, consult the Intranet, www pages and Study Advisers of SeAMK.