The aim of the Finnish universities is to streamline certificate-based admission and to ensure that the study opportunities are not unnecessarily restricted by subject choices made at general upper secondary level. This would ease the pressures experienced by general upper secondary students. About half of all new university students are admitted on the basis of their certificates.
Universities are developing the certificate-based admission process and entrance exams so that they would provide the applicants with a mutually complementary system opening up new opportunities.
In the development of certificate-based admission, consideration is given to the impacts of certificate-based admission on general upper secondary studies and the coping of the general upper secondary students with their workload, and the aim is also to avoid any negative steering impacts. Research findings are extensively used in the development of certificate-based admission.
“One of the key objectives of the development work is to streamline the certificate-based admission process by reducing the number of scoring tables and to ease the pressures experienced by general upper secondary students. The draft scoring model is intended to ensure that the opportunities of applicants in the certificate-based admission process to apply to fields interesting them are not unnecessarily restricted by subject choices made at general upper secondary level,” explains Marja-Leena Laakso, chair of the meetings of vice-rectors for education at Universities Finland UNIFI.
Each year, about half of all new university students are admitted on the basis of their certificates.
The draft scoring model is in response to criticism against certificate-based admission
There has been criticism against certificate-based admission. For example, the Union of Upper Secondary School Students has called for more consistent scoring as part of certificate-based admission.
“In the draft, the scoring is more comprehensively based on which general upper secondary subjects provide the applicants with key skills for the fields they are applying for,” Marja-Leena Laakso explains.
In the draft, the scoring of humanities and natural sciences has also been revised so that general upper secondary students would have better opportunities to select the humanities and natural sciences subjects that interest them when taking the matriculation examination instead of selecting the subjects producing the highest score.
Proficiency in the native language has been recognised as key to successful university studies in all fields. Therefore, in the draft scoring model, native language and literature give more points than in the old model.
There is now more variation in the weighting of mathematics between different fields. The need for the proficiency provided by advanced mathematics syllabus studied at general upper secondary level is highlighted in scientific fields and for this reason, advanced mathematics would also in the future give a significantly higher score. In other fields, good proficiency in basic mathematics would also provide a solid basis for studies and for this reason the gaps between the scores given by advanced and basic mathematics have been narrowed.
“We want to encourage all young people to study mathematics and select the mathematics syllabus in accordance with their own capabilities and goals,” says Marja-Leena Laakso, commenting on the weighting.
Studying of foreign languages has been on the decline in Finland for many years. Universities are worried about the weakening of Finland’s language resources. Languages are general subjects and studying them also help to improve one’s communication and cultural skills. For this reason, in the draft, scoring of languages is set at the same level with humanities and natural sciences subjects.
Background and further steps
In early 2022, Finnish universities launched a student admission development project at the initiative of the UNIFI’s meetings of vice-rectors for education.
The draft scoring model for certificate-based admission is based on research findings and extensive discussions with representatives of general upper secondary schools, general upper secondary students and other stakeholders and fields of education.
Comments on the draft scoring model can be submitted in the Otakantaa.fi service until 21 April. Universities will develop the scoring model on the basis of the comments.
The universities will decide on the scoring model to be introduced in spring 2026 by the end of August 2023 and the new model will be published on the yliopistovalinnat.fi website in September 2023.
Tanja Juurus, Project manager, National project for the development of university admissions 2022-2025, tel. +358 50 311 2583
Marja-Leena Laakso, Vice-rector of the University of Jyväskylä, Chair of the meetings of vice-rectors for education at Universities Finland UNIFI, tel. +358 40 805 4024