A new master's programme in education sheds light on the knowhow of a leading country in education

Do you want to be a change-maker in education? Equality, the neuroscience of learning and the Finnish education system are at the heart of the new English-language master’s programme at the University of Helsinki.

How can education solve global problems? What happens at the neural level in our brains when we learn something? It is possible to delve deeper into these questions in the University of Helsinki’s new international Master’s Programme in Changing Education.

The programme is open to bachelor’s degree holders in education and neighbouring disciplines or students who have acquired corresponding knowledge anywhere in the world.

From the perspective of students, Finland is a particularly interesting country for studying education and learning, since Finland is globally renowned for the quality of its education.

Everyone is entitled to education and the learning outcomes of Finnish schoolchildren rank at the top globally, but these results are not achieved at the expense of wellbeing. A great deal of work is done for the equality of schools and pupils’ equal opportunities.

Teachers have received education based on research and they have been practicing teaching guided by experienced teachers.

The teacher’s profession is valued in Finland and each teacher has the freedom to plan and implement teaching based on their own expertise.

Themes include neuroscience and an equal school system

Students of education at the University of Helsinki get to develop their skills and networks guided by world-leading researchers.

The offering is unique: the University of Helsinki’s strong knowledge in research focusing on the equality of education is combined with the neuroscience and the psychology of learning.

“We have brought together these two key approaches in educational sciences. When familiarisation with the Finnish school system from basic education and early childhood education to higher education is added to these, the programme offered is one of a kind globally,” says Professor of Education Minna Huotilainen, the director of the programme.

Visits to schools and other educational institutions are part of the studies from the very beginning. This allows students to familiarise themselves with teachers’ work and the Finnish school system in a very concrete manner. When possible, school visits will also offer a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ in the form of discussions with teachers and principals.

Brain research studies will allow students to see for themselves what role neuroscience has in thinking and learning. Studies in education and equality will acquaint students with the structures and functioning of Finnish society.

In addition to lectures, students will engage in projects and work in groups. The learning environment is the inspiring hub of education knowledge with 3,000 students and 500 researchers, located at the City Centre Campus of the University of Helsinki.

Education changes the world

This master’s programme educates change agents in education. Consequently, even the name of the programme refers to this fact: Changing Education.

“Upbringing and education change the world in a sustainable manner. At school, a seed for change is planted for the new generation. It will awaken the idea that it is possible to change the world," says Huotilainen.

“Master’s degree holders graduating from the University of Helsinki are change agents in the field of education. Inspired by their studies, many of them may bring back knowledge to their home countries on how the education system in their countries should be developed.”

The degree does not provide students with teacher qualifications but it gives an excellent foundation for other positions in education by combining two top entities: education research and teaching conducted at the University of Helsinki which has been assessed to be of high quality in various global rankings and research assessments and the world-renowned Finnish education system.

The first students of the Master’s Programme in Changing Education will begin their studies in autumn 2020. The application period for the programme runs from 3 December 2019 to 10 January 2020.

Read more

Master’s Programme in Changing Education – Programme website

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Admissions at the University of Helsinki

Faculty of Educational Sciences

“Studying how equity and quality manifest within Finland’s education system was enlightening”

Angie Lu, an exchange student from Australia, undertook the 2019 Helsinki Summer School course “The Finnish Education System Through Social Justice and Diversities”. In total, she is spending one year at the University of Helsinki studying English literature and philosophy.

“I have a deep passion for all things related to education and learning. Thus, given I wanted to personally experience the renowned Finnish education system, lifestyle and culture, the University of Helsinki was always my first exchange preference.”

Key influence for the future career

Angie Lu is now in her fourth and final year completing her studies in Bachelor of Science in pure mathematics and Bachelor of Arts in English literature. She intends to pursue a career in secondary mathematics and English teaching and someday, Australian educational policy or governance.

“Whilst I enjoyed finishing off my undergraduate degree at the University of Helsinki, the Helsinki Summer School course significantly helped formulate my personal educational principles.”

“The Finnish understanding of equity and quality is evident in everyday life. Studying how these manifest within their education system was genuinely enlightening. Rigorous discussion and comparison amongst my international cohort inspired and consolidated our own understandings. Thus, my future career, decisions and research in Australia will undoubtedly be influenced by the discussions and conclusions I gathered whilst living and studying in Helsinki.”

Studying Nordic culture in the middle of it

Angie Lu genuinely enjoyed engaging with alternative modes of academic thinking.

“It’s easy to become complacent within particular academic and cultural paradigms from your homeland. Helsinki’s international and Nordic population make up diversified class discussions. This then stimulated equally diverse thoughts.”

“My favourite part about studying in Helsinki was having the chance to formally study European and Nordic culture whilst actually in Europe and in a Nordic country. The relevance and application of my thoughts from such courses were both immediate and thoroughly enjoyable.”