Policy and development in higher education and science

Näytteenotto. KUVA: GorillaThe Ministry of Education and Culture helps promote the Government's higher education and science policy targets, and develops the higher education and science system in cooperation with stakeholders in the field.

Higher education and science policy work that takes a long-term view strengthens Finland's higher education institutions and research and innovation systems. Higher education institutions are developed as an internationally competitive entity that also flexibly meets regional needs.

Higher education policy

The Finnish higher education system consists of universities and universities of applied sciences. Higher education institutions are autonomous actors that are responsible for the content of their education and research as well as the development of their own activities.

The Ministry of Education and Culture as part of the Government steers and finances the activities of higher education institutions. Targets for development are based on the Government Programme and the Government Action Plan as well as other strategic objectives set by the Parliament and Government for higher education institutions.

The objective of Finland's higher education policy is to develop higher education institutions as an internationally competitive entity where each institution also flexibly responds to regional needs.

  • The activities of universities and universities of applied sciences promote Finnish competitiveness, well-being, education and learning as well as sustainable development.
  • The objective is to establish a higher education system that is of a higher standard and more international as well as more influential and effective than at present.
  • The higher education system consists of universities and universities of applied sciences of high standards, each profiled in their core areas. Profiled higher education institutions create clearer and deeper cooperation and division of responsibilities among themselves and with research institutes in the areas of education, research, support services, structures and infrastructures.
  • The higher education institutions exercise foresight and help regenerate society, culture and working life and make sure the required highly educate workforce is available.
  • Being international and attractive learning and research environments, the higher education institutions work to develop their activities.

The higher education institutions aim to improve the quality of education by revamping education content, teaching methods, learning environments and the competence of teachers, as well as to increase cooperation. The institutions make full use of the possibilities offered by digitalisation. They develop their student admissions, procedures for the recognition of prior learning and degree programmes in order to step up national and international mobility. Another aim for the higher education institutions is to wind down the use of bridge programmes so that mobility between degrees can be made easier.

Other objectives include ensuring that higher education institutions make wider use of secondary education qualifications in their student admissions and no longer organise entrance examinations that require sustained preparation. To accelerate transition to higher education studies, cooperation with secondary education providers will be improved. To enhance admission procedures, cooperation between different scientific fields will be carried out. The percentage of students studying towards their first higher education degree among new student admissions will be raised by reserving more places for first-time applicants and updating the admissions procedures for transfer students.

The higher education institutions must support equal opportunities and encourage students to graduate within the normative period at all degree levels. The institutions will provide more flexibility in studies and improve the recognition of prior learning. Student guidance will become more versatile and cooperation with working life will be closer. Effective career and recruitment services make it easier to graduate quickly and find a job. The institutions will also introduce national career monitoring.

To meet the new challenges facing society, the institutions assume responsibility for identifying the competence and educational needs of immigrants and improving their potential for accessing the labour market.

Science policy

Science policy helps channel competence into forms such as information, knowledge, processes, products and services. Science policy is linked to innovation policy, and it supports knowledge production. It also enhances the competence level of citizens and the nation in collaboration with different stakeholders to make research carried out in Finland more visible, international and effective.

The purpose of science policy is to ensure that the organisations that carry out research can engage in research in a way and to a standard that are typical of highly competitive international science communities. Science policy also helps make researched information easily available for widespread use in society.

It is now a global trend to use digital and open approach methods to generate high-standard research faster and more effectively. Finland is engaged in these developments.

The objective of science policy is to

  • raise the international standard as well as the knowledge and competence base of Finnish science, and to increase the innovation capacity in the national economy;
  • bolster the research infrastructure;
  • safeguard the openness of research and science;
  • step up internationality, which in turn improves quality.

Key projects in higher education and research

The Government’s key projects serve to implement developments in higher education. The key projects of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's Government that aim to advance higher education include:

  • Accelerated transition to working life;
  • Intensified cooperation between higher education institutions and business life to commercialise innovations;
  • In the context of upgrading teacher education, bringing new learning environments and digital materials to comprehensive schools.

See also

Acceleration of transition to working life

Acceleration of transition to working life

The government hopes to achieve longer work careers and flexible study paths for higher education. Higher education institutions will reform their student selection processes in order to decrease the number of gap years after upper secondary education. In the future, higher education institutions will offer education around the year.

Read more

Cooperation between higher education institutions and business life

Cooperation between higher education institutions and business life

The goal is to use the resources of science and research in a more efficient and effective way and to promote the growth of Finnish education exports. There is also demand for Finnish education abroad. In order to meet this demand, the opportunities of educational export are promoted in all levels of education.

Read more

Links to other websites

Contact information

Tapio Kosunen, ylijohtaja 
OKM, Korkeakoulu- ja tiedepolitiikan osasto (KTPO), Osaston päällikön esikunta 0295330440  


Hannu Sirén, johtaja 
OKM, Korkeakoulu- ja tiedepolitiikan osasto (KTPO), Strategisen ohjauksen vastuualue (STO) 0295330292  


Erja Heikkinen, Tiedeasiainneuvos, ryhmän päällikkö 
OKM, Korkeakoulu- ja tiedepolitiikan osasto (KTPO), Tiedepolitiikan ryhmä (TIR) 0295330101  


Birgitta Vuorinen, Opetusneuvos, ryhmän päällikkö 
OKM, Korkeakoulu- ja tiedepolitiikan osasto (KTPO), Kärkihankeryhmä (KÄR) 0295330335