In past years, new ways to select students besides through admission exams have been sought after. The DEFA project, administrated by the University of Helsinki, will test an alternative method to the traditional admission exams for measuring the long-term motivation of applicants; they may gain admission if they complete enough credits during one year of DEFA courses at the Open University. The DEFA courses are open and free for everyone.
The limit for gaining admission to the University of Helsinki is planned to be set at 60 credits completed in one year, says University Lecturer Kjell Lemström.
"This requires a lot of work, dedication, and quick progress of the students. The initial courses can mainly be taken online, but especially in the later modules of DEFA courses, there will also be classroom teaching."
The DEFA courses are open and free for everyone.
The first students will be able to try this new possibility this semester, but the project will start in earnest in autumn 2019. The project will go on to the end of 2020, and then its future will be considered. During this time, applicants may also apply through the traditional channels; admission exams, on the basis of their matriculation report, or through the Open University.
The courses will mostly be implemented as online courses in cooperation with Aalto University and the universities of Jyväskylä, Turku, and Oulu on the strength of the stipend of 1.5 million Euros from the Ministry for Education and Culture.
Try a year of classes
Computer science is a very popular subject; out of the 130 admissions available at the University of Helsinki through the admission exam this year, for example, over 1,200 students applied. Due to the good outlook in this field, students start working at an early stage, which may slow down their studies.
The students can measure their own level of interest in the field.
Lemström considers it one of the pilot’s advantages that students can measure their own level of interest in the field.
"Even if this field is not the right fit, the DEFA courses can be included in a later degree, so the time spent on DEFA studies will not have been wasted. Students do not lose their first-timer status, either, since their credits are registered in the Open University."
Experts can complement their know-how
The Ministry for Education and Culture granted its stipend for the development of open teaching in computer science and for the development of flexible study paths to meet different needs. The open courses in computer science are not geared only towards young people, but anyone can take them for free.
"Experts from various fields can taylor their own package to complement their skills from the courses offered at the University of Helsinki and the partner universities," says Lemström.
In spring, the Ministry for Education and Culture granted universities almost 11 million Euros worth of stipends for making university study paths more flexible and developing the contents of courses.