Universities and schools

Finnish higher education system consists of two complementary sectors: universities and universities of applied sciences. Universities conduct scientific research and deliver undergraduate and postgraduate education based on it. Universities award bachelor's and master's degrees and postgraduate licentiate and doctoral degrees. Universities of applied sciences train professionals to labour market demands and conduct research, development and innovation, which supports learning and promotes regional development. Universities of applied sciences are multi-field regional institutions focusing on contacts with co-operations with local companies.

The post-compulsory level is divided into general academic and vocational education. After compulsory comprehensive education, graduates continue to upper secondary schools or to initial vocational education and training. The aim of vocational education is to improve the skills of the workforce, to meet workplace needs and to support lifelong learning. There are 23 universities of applied sciences under the Ministry of Education and Culture and one university of applied sciences in the self-governing province of the Åland Islands.

Finnish universities, universities of applied sciences and vocational schools provide education on journalism and related fields, such as media, communication, media culture, speech communication, organisational communication, filmmaking and visual communication.

Journalism education has a relatively long history. The first formal journalism programme was established in 1925 at Helsinki Civic College. The programme gained more prestige in the late 1940s, when the first professorship in journalism was established at the school. The college moved from Helsinki to the city of Tampere in 1960 and became a university with the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication as one of its flagship schools.

In 2017, journalism education is offered at three universities. Besides the University of Tampere, the University of Jyväskylä has had a journalism programme since 1987. In these two programmes, prospective journalists can pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Since 1962, the Swedish School of Social Sciences (part of University of Helsinki) has had a bachelor programme in journalism.

University journalism programmes are a mixture of practical journalism training and communication theory. Additional elements come from a variety of minor subjects, ranging from social sciences to humanities and economics. Despite tensions between journalism academics and the practitioners, university-educated journalists are well-appreciated in the media industry and their employment rate has been consistently high.

Besides the degrees in journalism, a basic communications degree can be had from several universities: at the University of Helsinki (politics and mass media), at Aalto University in Helsinki (corporate communication, new media, visual communication), at the University of Tampere (media studies), at the University of Jyväskylä (organizational communication, intercultural communication and speech communication), at the University of Vaasa (communication sciences and multimedia systems and technical communication) and at the University of Turku (media studies).

Communication and media studies at the universities of applied sciences or polytechnics are directed at a certain field and involve more practice. Students are in close contact with companies and have more practical training than university students. Communication studies are offered in several different programmes.

These universities of applied sciences offer communication training programmes: journalism and media at TUAS in Turku, journalism at Haaga-Helia in Helsinki, communication at Xamk in four South-Eastern cities, film, television, communication, 3D animation and visualisation, digital communication at Metropolia in Helsinki, media and graphic design at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and film and television at Arcada in Helsinki.

In vocational education, basic-level degrees are awarded in visual expression and audio-visual communication. Professional and special vocational degrees are awarded in informatics and graphic and communication technique. The field of communication offers various professions and positions, for which multi-skilled and specialised professionals are needed. In vocational education, all students take general studies, after which they specialise in further subjects of their choosing. Special emphasis is placed on offering a large variety of courses to choose from.

According to the official student register of Finnish universities, 72 percent of new journalism students at universities in the 21st century were female. The share of female student members in the Union of Journalists is also roughly 70 percent. Both figures are higher than the share of females among the ordinary members of the Union. Media, recruiting not only university students, alleviates gender imbalance.

Journalism remains an open profession in Finland with no formal educational or other qualifications needed. As a consequence, much of the workforce enters newsrooms with other than journalism studies as their background. However, the share of journalists having a journalism education has steadily risen.

In a labour market study by the Union of Journalists, completing a degree in journalism is defined as completing a namesake degree at University of Tampere, University of Jyväskylä, Swedish School of Social Sciences, School of Journalism by Sanoma Corporation, University of the Arts Helsinki and Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

According to the study, 16 percent of the active working members had at least a bachelor’s degree in journalism from a university and 15 percent had a degree in a media subject from a university of applied sciences (polytechnic); 34 percent had a university degree in a major subject other than journalism, including members with a minor subject in journalism or media studies; 12 percent had polytechnic degrees in subjects other than journalism or in other media related subjects.

In addition, 10 percent of the members had unfinished university or polytechnic studies, 7 percent were secondary school graduates and 6 percent had some other education. In all, 31 percent of journalists currently working had at least a bachelor's degree in journalism from a university or a polytechnic media degree in 2016. There is a multitude of differences in education among active working journalists, reflecting the openness of the profession.

The educational level of Finnish journalists has risen. In a 1987 journalist survey, 33 percent had a university degree (40 percent of women and 29 percent of men) and in a 1993 survey, 41 percent did (48 percent of women and 35 percent of men). In a 2007 survey, 50 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree, specifically 54 percent of women and 42 percent of men (Jyrkiäinen & Heinonen 2012, 177).

Compared to the general educational level in Finland, journalists are well educated. In 2015, the share of population with at least bachelor’s level education was 20.3 percent (Educational Structure of Population 2015). Rising education levels for journalists are likely to continue as older age groups retire and younger, better educated recruits replace them.

The University of Tampere organises training and specialised refresher courses for journalists in cooperation with the Union of Journalists under the umbrella of Continuing education at the University of Tampere. The courses are planned and carried out with the help and expertise of the School of Communication, Media and Theatre (CMT) and experienced journalists.