Finland's government is considering steps to bring its university degree courses in line with the Bologna recommendations for convergence across Europe.
A ministerial committee has reported to the minister of education with proposals including adoption of a first degree of 120 weeks' study and a masters degree of a further 60 weeks.
The committee recommends that the first degree ( kandidaatintutkinto ) should be restructured to serve as a stand-alone qualification accepted by the labour market while providing an entry qualification for masters degrees.
The first degree was resurrected in the early 1990s, when masters degree programmes that were separate from the five-year masters offered by universities, were introduced.
The number of masters programmes is close to 170. Most of these are in the technical or scientific domain. The ministry is concerned that employers are becoming confused by the wide range of qualifications in circulation.
The ministerial committee was set up in January to devise plans to revamp the university degree system to follow the three-plus-two Bologna model, in which the nominal length of study is three years for a first degree and two years for a masters.
But the committee feels that 40 weeks is too short for a masters degree. The preparation of a dissertation takes up at least half of this time. It proposes that the first degree should be 120 study weeks and the masters degree 60 weeks.
In this way, the masters degree would become more substantial, offering a sound base for doctoral studies, which could then be completed in three years.