BLOG: Let's hold on to work life relevance of universities of applied sciences

13.4.2023 | Work life

The aim of a university of applied sciences is to graduate as an expert and developer in working life, which is one of the most important goals in the educational programs of universities of applied sciences. The current dual model in Finland clearly separates universities and universities of applied sciences. Polytechnics emphasize practical skills and working life connections, while universities emphasize research and science. The dual model is an important part of our education system and it has proven to be a working model. However, not all students have the same opportunities to develop the working life skills they will need in the future during their studies. Even in different branches of the same university of applied sciences, the relevance of degrees to working life varies significantly.

When choosing students, schools must take into account the regional supply of companies that can offer students work-oriented projects. Part of the solution is simply to calculate the number of BBA degrees and relate them to the working life needs of the region, which we have written about before!​ The special needs of the area's business life must be taken into account when planning the teaching.

Of course, there is no working life-oriented teaching without competent personnel. In the recruitment of university of applied sciences teachers, up-to-date work life experience must be valued, and schools must ensure the working life skills of their personnel through various working life cycles. Schools must also make it possible for all students and teachers to participate in R&D activities, which can be used to comprehensively develop working life skills within the school.


Many students get the most important lessons during their studies for their future career from internships. Internships are a very important part of a university of applied sciences' education program, but there are huge differences in internship requirements between schools nationwide. Differences in quality criteria negatively affect students' readiness for transition to working life, which is why it would be important to create a national set of criteria to define how and in what way students are guided and introduced during the internship. The fulfillment of these criteria must be monitored and it must be ensured that students nationwide have opportunities for work placements that promote quality employment.

In a 2021 BBA  Students of Business and Technology survey, 73% reported that they received a salary for their internship. This is'nt enough, as all internships for BBA students must be paid! Universities of applied sciences must support paid internships by providing their students only paid internship positions and periods. The remuneration of the internship is defined according to the demandingness of the tasks and is related to the general salary level of the target industry.


The thesis is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the skills needed in working life. It is also an important step towards employment for many students. Universities of applied sciences play a key role in taking into account the needs of working life and developing theses in cooperation with working life. The theses must deal with current problems in working life and look for solutions to them. This requires the student to have both theoretical knowledge and the ability to apply it in practical situations. It is also important that the topic of the thesis is current and relevant in terms of working life.

In addition to topics that are important for working life, the theses must utilize the practices and knowledge of working life. Students can do theses together with companies, which creates a good opportunity for students to network and get a working life perspective for the thesis.

As a whole, universities of applied sciences should invest even more in developing relevance to working life. Studies must be working life-oriented and internships must be of high quality and paid. Theses must deal with current challenges of working life and make use of working life practices. Students are top experts in the working life of the future. If we want our universities of applied sciences to graduate even more competent workers, we must take care of the work-life connections between studies!


Jesse Koivukoski


044 505 5612

Advocacy team | Stakeholder group work & influencing

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