Student mentoring will intensify in the new degree programmes

Vice-rector Harri Melin

Wide-ranging degree programmes are not meant to break the students’ identification with a field of science. Instead, we want to give them the opportunity to form their own perception of the field without strict pigeon-holing. Identification with the field of science is very welcome at the Master’s Programme stage, says Vice-Rector Harri Melin.

 

Wide-ranging does not mean straying

Now it starts – one of the biggest changes at the University of Tampere. The new wide-ranging Bachelor’s Programmes are about to begin this autumn.

Despite the studies being wide-ranging, the students must study towards the Master’s Degree of their choice rather soon. The students are expected to know at the latest in the spring term of their second year to which Master’s Programme they want to orient themselves.

–  It does not mean that this should be the final plan. However, the information would be important especially in those subjects where there are several alternative Master’s Programmes, says Harri Melin, Vice-Rector of the University of Tampere.

More predictability in the choice of courses

In order for this to succeed, there will be more mentoring. In autumn, the whole university will start using the personal study plans, HOPS. The new HOPS, which is advanced even compared with the other universities in Finland, interacts with the other electronic study systems, such as the web tool NettiOpsu.

The idea is that in HOPS the students should anticipate the courses they will take in the following term.

–  There is no way we will reach perfection, and we will not necessarily know in the autumn of all the courses that will be taught in the spring term. However, we have now for the first time the opportunity to see what kind of teaching our students are orienting themselves to, Melin says.

In addition, all degree programmes now have a named mentor who is either someone from the Study Services or a teacher from the student’s own subject.

There is additional pressure for the smooth advancement of studies from the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Ministry is about to change the grounds for granting financial aid to students so that students are only granted a certain number of aided months for the Bachelor’s Degree after which the degree must be completed.

–  However, we have more faith in the fact that with the help of mentoring inside the university the students will achieve this goal themselves.

Old students are not to worry

The popularity of the Master’s Programmes will be seen in a couple of years when the first students who now begin in the new degree programmes choose their Master’s Programme. So the Master’s Programmes are put to a popularity test inside the university for the first time.

Most of the students who started their studies last autumn will transfer into the new programmes. They do not necessarily have to do this as they can complete their studies according to the old system.

–  Older students do not have to worry what will happen to them in the new programmes. Except of course that they have to complete their degrees, otherwise no good will come, Melin threatens.

No more pigeon-holing

When students formerly used to apply to study a certain subject directly, in the wide-ranging programmes the orientation to one’s own field of science will happen later. However, it is not the intention to erode the traditional identities connected to the fields of science.

– We want to offer the students the opportunity to build the identity within the fields of science, not so that they would already have a pigeon-holed idea when they first arrive here, Melin says.

The students do not necessarily have a very clear picture of what for example administrative sciences include. Now the idea is that they can build their image in peace and decide in the Master’s Programme stage whether they want to become leading experts in regional management or public administration, for instance.

–   The images are often much stronger in the minds of us teachers than they are in the students’ minds.

We are ready

The biggest changes have happened in the School of Management and the School of Education where the whole degree programme structure has been renewed. In the School of Social Sciences and Humanities social sciences started a joint Bachelor’s Programme.

The change of the University started two years ago with the adoption of the new strategy.

– In the past two years, a fundamental change has taken place in the University’s practices and ways of thinking.

Apart from wide-ranging, knowledge-based has been another key thought in the new programmes.

A lot of time has been spent on thinking how the students’ expertise is built during the studies.

–  Also those Schools where there have been a lot of changes are ready to start the new term. I am very much looking forward to the start of the new programmes, Harri Melin says.

FACT

New degree programmes

  • Wide-ranging Bachelor’s Programmes start in the autumn of 2012.
  • The teaching in open university will be combined with the teaching in the degree programmes. There can thus be both open university students and degree programme students in the same courses.
  • Some degree programmes will remain as they are, e.g. the degrees in medicine, psychology and information science.
  • The application process will undergo another change in a few years when universities will start joint application procedures. Then a half or over a half of new students will be admitted on the basis of nation-wide application processes.