Postgraduate degrees from Finnish polytechnics should be viewed as equivalent to postgraduate programmes in other countries, an international evaluation council has concluded.
Finnish polytechnics have offered postgraduate degrees in selected disciplines since 2002, and the council's report recommends that they should be offered in all disciplines.
The report concludes that for jobs requiring a postgraduate degree, a polytechnic and a university masters degree should have equal value. In all other circumstances, there should be a clear distinction between the two, with polytechnic programmes tailored to the needs of the labour market, while university degrees focus on research. But in practice the boundaries are blurred as both polytechnics and universities offer postgraduate programmes.
Polytechnic programmes are aimed at those who want to combine work and study, but the committee suggests full-time postgraduate degrees should be added to attract international students.
The Bill regulating the degrees will go through Parliament in the new year and is expected to become law in autumn 2005.
It is anticipated that by 2008 about 2,000 students a year will enrol on these courses, while the long-term target is that one-fifth of all polytechnic graduates will enter a postgraduate course.