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Introduction of the European system of measuring higher education studies

Education is undergoing major changes in Europe. This development started at the end of last millennium and has an impact on Finnish higher education too. The aim is to create a European higher education area by 2010. This area will increase the competitiveness and attractiveness of European higher education in comparison with other continents.

In Finland, the degree structure has been modified in accordance with the European objective, the system of measuring studies is going to change and the transparency of degrees has been improved by the introduction of the Diploma Supplement (DS).

The system of measuring higher education studies is going to change in 2005. Credits will be replaced by ECTS credits. The old unit of measurement, credit, was defined as an average input of 40 hours of work by the student.

A system of measuring studies based on the annual workload during one academic year will be widely introduced by European higher education institutions. The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) has been in use for more than ten years now and mainly served international student exchanges in the beginning. ECTS is based on the principle that 60 ECTS credits measure the workload of a full-time student during one academic year.

Finnish polytechnics and universities will start to apply ECTS to the measurement of studies. According to this system, a student's annual workload of 1,600 hours will be worth 60 ECTS credits. Polytechnics will implement the new system of measurement in its entirety during 2005.

Although the system of measurement changes, the extent of degrees will remain unchanged. At present, Finnish polytechnics offer degrees comprising 140, 160 and 180 credits, with normative durations of 3.5 years, 4 years and 4.5 years respectively. In the new system, the normative durations remain unchanged but the degrees comprise 210, 240 and 270 ECTS credits.

Extent in credits

Extent in ECTS credits

Normative duration in years










The Finnish abbreviations are as follows: ov for credit (opintoviikko), op for ECTS credit (opintopiste). All polytechnic education starting on 1 January 2005 or later will be defined in ECTS credits. Students who have commenced their studies earlier will be covered by ECTS from 1 January 2005 or 1 August 2005, depending on the decision of the polytechnic. Certificates granted to students will specify the unit of measurement used to indicate the extent of studies.