Project “Harmonization problems of lifelong learning in the context of providing quality and recognition”

The project “Harmonization problems of lifelong learning in the context of providing quality and recognition” is financed by Nordic Council of Ministers, program “Nordplus Neighbor” and last two academic years 2004/2005 and 2006/2007. The idea of the project is to improve the ways in which lifelong learning participation and outcomes are understood and appreciated in Baltic countries and strengthen co-operation between Nordic region and the Adjacent Areas in the area of lifelong learning. Project network include 8 partners from 6 countries. The members of network cooperation are bringing together existing experience with national recognition and qualification frameworks of non-formal lifelong learning with a view to facilitating the development of lifelong learning system in Baltic countries and collect best-practice examples from each partner country in the area recognition and evaluation of non-formal lifelong learning, possibilities of credit transfer from non-formal to formal lifelong learning systems and also new trends, forms and methods that allow expanding and appreciating the lifelong learning participation and outcomes.

The main project results are established strong cooperation network between Nordic countries – Norway, Finland and Denmark and Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the area of lifelong learning and worked out recommendations and best practice examples for public authorities, policy makers responsible for lifelong learning and lifelong learning service providers in Baltic countries.

The recommendations and best practice examples You can see below or download here [MS Word document 1.14MB]


“Harmonization problems of lifelong learning in the context of providing quality and recognition”


1.Education system
2.Lifelong learning
2.2.Recognition and evaluation
2.3.Credit transfer system
2.4.New trends
3.Best practise examples

The scale of current economic and social change, the rapid transition to knowledge – based society and demographic pressures resulting from an ageing population in Europe are all challenges which demand a new approach to education and training, within the framework of lifelong learning. No longer can young people acquire, by the age of 25, a set of skills and qualifications which will see them through life. Increasingly, rather, what they will need is a set of broader, generic, adaptable skills that will enable them to constantly acquire new skills, new specialist knowledge and new ways of working.
In the context of these challenges, lifelong learning was given a high priority at the council meeting of Lisabon and Stockholm, and the Communication responds to the specific mandate of the Feira European Council. The lifelong learning is the key mean also of Bologna process.

The implementation of training and education in the framework of lifelong learning can be provided in two learning systems:
  1. Formal learning system – takes place in education and training institutions, leading to recognized diplomas and qualifications;
  2. Non-formal learning system – takes place alongside the mainstream systems of education and training and does not typically lead to formalized certificates. Non-formal learning may be provided in the workplace and through the activities of civil society organizations and groups and also through organizations or services that have been set up to complement formal systems.
The area of lifelong learning is quite broad and diversifies in different countries. The level and quality of lifelong learning is much diversified regarding different parts of sector of education.
With the focus on Baltic and Nordic countries, we have to admit that many years in these countries, formal education has dominated policy thinking, shaping the ways in which education and training are provided and colouring people’s understandings of what counts as learning. The continuum of lifelong learning brings non-formal and informal learning.

Through the evaluation of realization and implementation of lifelong learning in the Baltic and Nordic countries it was decided to draw attention to the following challenges of lifelong learning in the area:
  1. Recognition and evaluation of the quality of non-formal lifelong learning providers and outcomes.
  2. Credit transfer system from non-formal lifelong learning system to formal learning system.
  3. New trends and effective forms and programs of lifelong learning.

Main legislation:
  • Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (Eesti Vabariigi Põhiseadus, 1992) provides the right to education for all.
  • Education Act (Haridusseadus, 1993) provides an overall framework and general principles for the education system.
  • Basic School and Upper Secondary General Schools Act (Põhikooli-ja gümnaasiumiseadus, 1993) provides more specific conditions for establishing, running and closing state and municipal primary schools, basic schools and upper secondary general schools. Defines the principles governing basic schools and upper secondary general schools.
  • Universities Act (Ülikooliseadus, 1995) regulates higher education.
  • Pre-School Childcare Institutions Act (Koolieelsete lasteasutuste seadus, 1999) defines the foundations for pre-school institutions in municipalities, as well as the whole pre-school education system.

Useful links:

Eurydice Unit
Haridus- ja Teadusministeerium (Ministry of Education and Science),

ERIS - Eesti teadus- ja arendustegevuse infosüsteem ERIS (Estonian Research Information System),
ESA - Statistikaamet (Statistical Office of Estonia),
Euroopa liidu Innovatsioonikeskus (EU Innovation Centre),
Euroopa Noored (Estonian Youth National Agency),
INNOVE - Elukestva Õppe Arendamise Sihtasutus Innove (Foundation for Lifelong Learning Development Innove),
Kõrghariduse Akrediteerimise Keskus (Centre for Higher Education Accreditation),
Sihtasutus Archimedes (Archimedes Foundation),
Socrates Eesti Büroo (Socrates Estonian National Agency),

Main legislation:
  • Basic Education Act (Perusopetuslaki 628/1998)
  • Act on Vocational Education (Laki ammatillisesta koulutuksesta 630/1998)
  • Act on Vocational Adult Education (Laki ammatillisesta aikuiskoulutuksesta 631/1998)
  • Polytechnics Act (Ammattikorkeakoululaki 351/2003)
  • Universitites Act (Yliopistolaki 645/1997)
  • Act on Liberal Adult Education (Laki vapaasta sivistystyöstä 632/1998)

Useful links:

Ministry of Education:
National Board of Education:
The Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council:
University Continuing Education Network in Finland (UCEF):
Rectors' Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences:
Centre for International Mobility (CIMO):


Main legislation:

Education Law from October 29, 1998; General Education Law from June 10, 1999; Professional Education Law from June 10, 1999; Law on Higher Education Institutions from November 2, 1995; The Concept of Education Development 2002 – 2005, The National Programme for Life Long Learning

Useful links:

Ministry of Education and Science:
Council of Higher Education of Latvia:
Latvian Adult Education Association:
State Education Development Agency:

Main legislation:
  • In 1992, the Lithuanian Government approved the General Concept of Education in Lithuania which has been the main and the most important document of the education reform ever since.
  • In 1990, the [“Seimas”] of Lithuania assumed responsibility for the legal basis of education. On 25 June 1991, the Law on Education of the Republic of Lithuania was enacted.
  • The main law regulating the most important educational issues is the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania adopted by a referendum of Lithuanian citizens on 25 October 1992.
  • The activities of institutions of science and higher education are regulated by the Law on Science and Studies (12 February 1991).
  • The Law on Vocational Education and Training (14 October 1997) defines the structure and administration of the vocational education and training system, the activities of vocational schools and institutions of vocational education and training in the Lithuanian Republic.
  • The Law on Special Education (15 December 1998) determines the structure and administration of special education as well as the procedure for organizing education for people with special needs.
  • The Law on Non-formal Adult Education (30 June 1998) regulates the system of non-formal adult education, determines the fundamentals of its structure, activities and management.
  • The Law on Higher Education (21 March 2000) determines the system of higher education, regulates the activities of the institutions of higher education and establishes the binary system of higher education.

Main legislation:
  • ”The act of primary and secondary education” (Lov 1998-07-17 nr 61: Lov om grunnskolen og den vidaregåande opplæringa), which covers the 13 first years of education.
  • “The act of higher education” (Lov 1995-05-12 nr 22: Lov om universiteter og høgskoler).
  • “The act of adult education” Lov 1976-05-28 nr 35 om voksenopplæring.

Useful links:


Adult education is integral organised provision of the adult population with education, which does not depend on the content, level or methods of study and may be a substitute for or continuance of initial education that is acquired in school, college or university.
Participation in adult education has become popular as well as necessary in contemporary society since it allows for a person to develop his or her abilities, acquire knowledge, raise the level of professional competency and participate actively in social processes.
The structure of the Ministry of Education and Research includes the Vocational and Adult Education Department which aims at planning and applying the principles and objectives of the national education policy with respect to vocational and adult education (
As of 1993, the overall functionality of the adult training system is regulated by the Adult Education Act.

The act regulates the following:
  • formal education acquired within the adult education system outside the daily study form or full-time study (basic, secondary or higher education);
  • adults' professional training;
  • informal adult education.
The chapters of the Adult Education Act are as follows:
  • General
  • Ensuring study opportunities
  • Organisation of training
  • Financing training
  • Implementing provisions

Among other things, the act prescribes which other legislation is applied to adult education, the activities of the Adult Education Council, issues related to granting academic leave, etc. According to the law, those participating in formal or professional education within the adult education system have the right to apply for academic leave for education purposes, while retaining their pay. To participate in informal education one has the right to apply for academic leave without pay.
In addition to the Adult Education Act, adult education is regulated by the following legislation:

Adult education opportunities in basic schools and upper secondary schools are regulated by the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (1993) and Regulation "Procedure for and Conditions of Attending a Basic School or Upper Secondary School in the Form of Evening Courses or Distance Learning, and Graduating from School as an External Student" (amended in 2002) of the Minister of Education established on the basis of the former.

The Vocational Education Institutions Act (1998) regulates, inter alia, provision of education at the level of secondary vocational education in the form of distance learning. The act and Regulation "Procedure for and Conditions of Organisation of Continuing Vocational Training in Vocational Education Institutions" (amended in 2001) of the Minister of Education also provide for continuing vocational training in vocational education institutions. A regulation of the Government of the Republic, which provides for access of disabled people to vocational education and allows for implementation of support systems, proceeds from the Vocational Education Institutions Act, as well.

The Applied Higher Education Institutions Act (1998) and the Universities Act (1995) (both extensively amended in 2002 and 2003) give the supervisory boards of the respective education institutions the right to stipulate the fields, forms and procedure for continuing vocational training.
The Private Education Institutions Act (1998) regulates establishment and operation of private schools. According to the act, all private education institutions that carry out courses, the period of study of which is more than 120 academic hours, shall form a private education institution and apply to the Ministry of Education and Research for an education license.

The Social Protection of the Unemployed Act (2000) regulates social guarantees given to the unemployed by the state. One social guarantee for the unemployed is a stipend that is paid to the unemployed who participate in employment training, which lasts no less than 80 academic hours.
The Employment Service Act (2000) regulates provision of job-seekers and the unemployed with the labour market service. On the basis of the corresponding law, the unemployed can apply for vocational guidance and employment training. Employment training means primarily vocational training and other training that allows for adapting to the demands of the labour market.

The Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act (2000) (amended in 2002 and 2003) establishes opportunities for payment of state training support to people employed in the agricultural sector.
The vocational education and training is offered by different educational and training institutions and training providers. VET can be financed by the employer, employee as well as the public sector. The state supports formal adult education by allocating resources from the state budget through the Ministry of Education and Research. Studies in VET institutions are free of charge for participants.
The public sector finances professional training directly on the regulated areas of specialisation where the continuous training is obligatory. For example, funding is prescribed in the state budget for teachers (3% of their annual salary fund), civil servants and health-care professionals (2-4% of their annual salary fund). Professional training is supported by the state directly for unemployed people through the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The higher education system in Finland comprises universities and polytechnics, in which the admission requirement is a secondary general or vocational diploma. There are 20 universities and 30 polytechnics in Finland. Ten of the universities are multi-disciplinary and three of them are universities of technology. There are three business schools and three universities for arts, music and theatre. In addition, The National Defence College, has the university status.

Polytechnics in Finland are multi-field regional institutions focusing on contacts with working life and on regional development. Seven of the polytechnics are run by local authorities, 11 by municipal education consortia and 10 by private organisations. In addition there is Åland University of Applied Sciences in the self-governing Province of Åland and a Police College.

Open university and university continuing education is organized in centres of extension studies or continuing education and development centres. Also polytechnics provide continuing education for their target groups. Continuing education includes seminars and short courses up to professional development studies. Majority of the courses organised are based on incomes from the learners or their organisations. Courses are also organised as part of national and European Union financed projects. University continuing education and polytechnic continuing education are not equally treated in the market as polytechnics get budget funding for organising the courses.
A large number of the volume in adult education is distributed within the official education system by adult upper secondary schools, vocational institutions and vocational adult training centres, national and private vocational institutions. Liberal adult education is organized in adult education centres, folk high schools, summer universities, study centres and sports institutes.
In addition to the education organized under the supervision and / or finance by the ministry of education, a great deal of adult education is financed by the labour administration. Labour market training is mainly intended for unemployed persons and those aged 20 or over who are threatened by unemployment. Adult education also includes staff-development and other training organized or paid by employers.


To adjust to the rapid changes in the world continuous professional development or re-training become significant elements of the unemployment prevention strategy. The role of higher education establishments is also changing – while maintaining their traditional mission in relation to academic / professional higher education and research, they have to extend their activities – provide a large variety of forms of continuing adult education. There are 3 basic forms of adult continuing education at higher education institutions:
  • Professional continuing education programmes fostering persons’ professional competences. These programmes have to be accredited. Upon the completion of the programme they are given recognized diplomas / degrees / certificates indicating their professional qualifications. /formal education/
  • Programmes fostering persons’ further professional development. Upon the completion of the programme a certificate is issued indicating the contents and length of the programme. These programmes do not necessarily have to be accredited. /both formal and non – formal education/
  • Interest related programmes fostering persons’ social skills, social adjustment, integration and personal development. They are not subject to strong restrictions. /non-formal education/
It is fact that a large number of other public or private adult education establishments offer various programmes for adults. Higher education institutions have to focus on high quality of adult continuing education and recognition of the diplomas and certificates both at national and international level. As concerns the quality and quantity of the courses, a lot has been done since early nineties. With considerable help from various EU programmes funding education, almost all the major universities and colleges in Latvia have established continuing and distance education departments, have developed new courses, trained specialists and developed continuing and distance education infrastructure.

Formal adult vocational education and training programmes are registered with the Register of Studies and Training Programmes. Providers of information for the Register are higher and vocational schools, the Lithuanian Labour Market Training Authority at the Ministry of Social Security and Labour and the Ministry of Education and Science.
In the Register of Studies and Training Programmes, those who want to study may find information about the mode, duration and scope of studies, education level to be obtained, qualification degree, vocational qualification or a work permit to perform a certain type of work to be granted and also the name and code of the vocational training standard or regulation of the study field/area.
Non-formal adult education programmes are designed and implemented by educational institutions and other legal persons and individuals in accordance with the Law on Non-formal Adult Education and other procedures established by the Ministry of Education and Science.
New non-formal education programmes developed at the request of employers may be used for non-formal vocational education and training. Those programmes are registered by territorial labor market training services and information about them is provided to the Lithuanian Labour Market Training Authority.
Providers of non-formal adult education must ensure the quality of the education programmes; they must develop, upgrade and implement programmes taking into account the requirements of the participants, founders and sponsors of non-formal adult education.
Non-formal education may take the following forms:
  • organized activity of groups of people sharing common educational interests;
  • courses: day, evening, continued, short-term;
  • day schools offering comprehensive teaching programmes.

Adults, who as children and young have not acquired the desired education, have the opportunity to obtain additional education within the formal education system. That is, adults who have insufficient education at the level of primary and lower secondary school have, according to the Education Act, from October 1st 2002 the right to get access to primary and lower secondary education. The municipalities have the duty to provide such education. By October 1st 2006, almost 3 700 persons received such education. Since the autumn 2000 adults have also had the right to higher secondary school education. The counties have the duty to provide opportunities for such education. In the autumn of 1999 there were 26 000 adults following upper secondary school education. Finally, adults have the same access to higher education as the younger generation. Access to a number of study programmes is, however, restricted by capacity constraints.
Popular education organisations (Studieforbund) and Institutions of distant learning also offer a number of courses and study programmes that are recognised as formal study programmes/courses. These organizations work on a non-profit basis. Due to long distances the institutions of distant learning have traditionally played an important role in Norway. The expansion of college education after 1970 has, however, reduced somewhat the importance of distant learning in providing formal education. Popular education organizations continue, however to play an important role.

According to legislation, formal education institutions (vocational and higher educational institutions) may organise in-service training and retraining. An institution must have the material resources and qualified teachers and curricula approved by the head of the institution.
As for universities, the council of the university establishes what subjects are taught and how. The procedure is the same in other higher education institutions. In the field of formal and professional adult education, employers and other bodies commissioning training are increasingly involved in curricula development for both state and private educational institutions. Such cooperation ensures that the training provided complies with the needs of clients and the labour market. The level of cooperation differs – some work closely with the bodies commissioning training and some don’t. Feedback questionnaires are distributed among graduates of formal and professional education as well as non-formal education. These are used to make conclusions and conduct an internal evaluation process.

Being involved in curriculum development is a concrete way in which those commissioning training can assess the quality of training provided. Developing professional standards for accurate assessment is a good indication of the quality of training.

The quality of training is proved by the learners’ success in examinations or qualifications attainment. The Professional Council of Business Service and Other Commercial Operations adopted the Professional Standards of Adult Training Providers in 2003. The profession of an adult training provider is a partial qualification (the main qualification is the profession or occupation of the training provider, which has been acquired in a higher education institution, vocational education institution or in in-service training). The qualification can be applied for by anyone who is engaged in training or teaching adults. Possession of the qualifications is a means with which the training provider can prove his or her vocational competence and increase his or her competitiveness. It is also a guarantee for the commissioner of training, the employer, certifying that the training provider meets the required qualification standards. A procedure for certification and issuance of vocational qualifications is yet to be developed.

In the field of non-formal education, a quality assurance system is being prepared under Estonian Non-formal Adult Education Association ( According to current procedure, the activity of non-formal education centres is assessed on the basis of number of participants, study fields, regionality and activeness. Training centres which comply with requirements (approximately 45 each year) are supported from the state budget.
The government issues an education license to providers of professional and non-formal education pursuant to the Private Schools Act whereby a license is necessary if instruction lasts longer than 120 hours or six months in a year. A special committee dealing with education licenses has been established. The current licensing system does not include any quality criteria and it will be reviewed in the near future.
Employment training is assessed by employment offices on the basis of the employment rate of people who have completed training. Usually, the efficiency of training and employment opportunities are assessed before an unemployed person is sent to a training course.

Competence based examinations in vocational education and training give adults the chance to get a part or a whole degree recognized. Usually the examinations are taken after a voluntary preparatory course leading to the examination. The advantages of taking a competence based examination (and the preparatory education) are seen as a chance to build competences needed in the working life, improvement of finding a (better) job, to qualify as an applicant for a job, a better position in the existing work place, a new profession, a raise in payment and to qualify for certain assignments in the current field of work. For example, a certain qualification and diploma is required from a person making electronic installations and these are possibly to obtain through a preparatory training and a competence based examination.

A special target group for competence based examinations is immigrants. According to statistics, unemployment within immigrants is greater than with rest of the population. A project called Manu was established to develop vocational education and training for immigrants to Finland and support models for competence based qualifications designed to immigrants in demonstrating their professional skills. As the labour market needs also the participation of highly educated immigrants, another project called Specima was organised to educate and qualify doctors, dentists, pharmaceutics, teachers and counsellors through field specific training actions.

Recognition of prior learning is yet very much to come to the higher education sector. The legislation is already in place but the educational organisations are still building their systems of recognition. Prior courses have been accredited already before but there hasn’t been a transparent, predictable and equally treating system for all applicants. A committee on APEL/RPL chaired by the ministry of education gave its report on January 2007 with 25 recommendations for the universities and the ministry of education. Turku University was granted a project in order to launch the APEL/RPL in the Finnish universities.


As concerns formal accredited academic or vocational programmes, they are recognized both nationally and internationally. Latvian higher education institutions practice credit transfer from one institution to another. Latvian credit point system is also compatible with ECTS. The number of ECTS credits is found by multiplying the number of Latvian credit points by a factor of 1,5. According to Latvian legislation state recognized diplomas / degrees / certificates may only be awarded upon completion of an accredited programme in an accredited educational institution. To ensure the quality, the programmes have to go through quality assessment, which includes self-evaluation, peer evaluation and experts from Western Europe. A very positive aspect is that more and more countries introduce Diploma Supplement thus helping the qualifications to be recognized throughout Europe.
As for the recognition of the diplomas and certificates of non-formal education, there is still a lot of work to do. The LLL framework chart shows the picture. What we can call initial education or basic school education is localised in quadrant #3. Its focus is younger people and it takes place in more formalised settings. Also quadrant #2 is traditionally of interest to the policy-makers and society in general, as it concerns recurrent education and training programmes and various other kinds of formal adult education. During recent years more focus is shifting towards quadrants #1 and #4. A very valuable learning takes place in these settings, and the aim is to be able to measure this value, as well as to integrate competencies acquired in non-formal settings into the qualifications acquired in the formalised settings.
“The lifelong-life wide framework”

Older people
non-formal adult education 12 formal adult education
less formalised
more formalised
with recognition
no problems with
children interest related education 43 initial education or basic school education

Creation of the methods and the recognition system of non-formal education hardly not started in the Republic of Lithuania according to Strategy of Life-long Learning and the Plan of Its Implementation adopted by the order of Minister of the Ministry of Education and Science in 2004 Adults without general education but with professional competencies acquired in non-formal education sector are assessed according formal rules created for youth. Lack of recognition system of non-formal education reduces status of education and competition in labour market, and squeezes relations between employees and employer.

The procedure of formalization is explained more in detail in the following table:

Components of procedureAcquisition of documents certificating completion of vocational training or completion of particular vocational training stage or moduleAcquisition of junior college education
Requirements to applicant:
  • minimum 18 years old;
  • professional experience minimum of 1 year duration.
  • secondary education;
  • professional experience minimum of 3 years duration.
  • covered by person if he/she applies independently;
  • covered by employer, sending employee;
  • covered by territorial labour exchange, sending unemployed or person who is warned about discharge.
  • every vocational school which provides vocational training programme and has license to provide it
  • institutions providing junior college programmes.
Form of formalization:
  • equivalency examination (eksternatas arba egzaminų laikymas eksternu)
Procedure of formalization:
  • person who wants to take equivalency examination presents application to vocational school for taking examination;
  • vocational school creates schedule of taking qualification examination and credit tests for particular study programme’s parts necessary to obtain certificate of qualification in case if person wants to obtain such document;
  • vocational school creates schedule of taking compulsory subjects of vocational training programme and final qualification examinations in case when person wants to obtain diploma of qualified worker;
  • qualification examination and qualified worker examination are provided according regulations of labour market vocational training or Order on final qualification examinations of basic vocational training adopted by the order of minister of the Ministry of Education and Science.
  • schedule of individual assessment of knowledge, abilities and skills is created by institution providing junior college programmes after getting the application to take equivalence examination;
  • examinations and credit tests of subjects included into schedule are provided by teachers of subjects;
  • organization and supervision of final examinations and final thesis (project) is under the power of Commission of Final Examinations and Final Thesis (Project);
  • Ministry of Education and Science delegates’ representative to Commission of Final Examinations and Final Thesis (Project) to supervise the organization and process of final examinations and defence of final thesis (project).
Awarded documents or qualifications after passing the examination:
  • Certificate of qualification;
  • Diploma of qualified worker.
  • Diploma on junior college education and professional qualification.
Possibility to repeat examination:
  • not earlier than one year after last try to pass examination


At all levels of formal education there exists an external candidate system. This allows an individual to sit exams in public educational institutions even if the individual has not taken part in an organised study programme/course. A passed exam will then (in cases where practical experience is not a part of the course) be considered equivalent with a passed exam for normal students.
Adults who apply for admittance to upper secondary school or to institutions of higher education, and who do not satisfy the formal requirements for admittance, have the right to become admitted if they, according to the assessment of the institution, have the real (equivalent) competence needed. Relatively few students are, however, admitted according to this rule. Nevertheless, in Norway this arrangement has, at least until now, been considered more appropriate than establishing an Open-University-System of the type found in a number of other countries.
In institutions of higher education students generally have the option to file an application that courses completed in all kinds of institutions should be considered equivalent to courses in public (and private) institutions of higher education. The student then has to document the content of the courses he or she files an application for. If the application is approved, the course can be used as a substitute for internal courses in the institution where the application is assessed.

The University’s may, in evaluating the completion of the curriculum, acknowledge the person’s previous study results and work experience in an extent of up to 50 per cent. If a student has previously studied in the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the University may acknowledge such studies in an extent exceeding 50 per cent.
In the Estonian University of Life Sciences acknowledge earlier studies and work experience in accordance with the regulation of the University’s Council “The conditions and procedure of acknowledgement of the student’s earlier studies and work experience” (
Students shall be entitled to seek the accreditation of prior learning or learning work accomplished elsewhere, as well as of experiential learning as equivalent to completing a course in a curriculum subject or a part of the curriculum.

Prior studies or learning work accomplished elsewhere as well as experiential learning shall be assessed by a teaching staff member teaching a similar subject. The procedure and fees for considering applications to accredit students’ prior and experiential learning shall be established by the University’s Rector.

Assessment of the student’s prior and experiential learning shall be based on whether the learning outcomes resulting from prior learning or the work experience acquired correspond to the learning objectives of the subject(s) and/or the aims of the curriculum.

Compared to universities, the polytechnics in Finland took a more positive view on the Bologna Declaration and the creation of the European Higher Education Area. Now the situation has improved and universities are actively participating in the process. The new two-cycle degree system was adopted by Finnish universities in the year 2005. Students take first the three year lower degree (Candidate) and after that go for the two year higher degree (Masters). In general, the students are admitted to study for both the lower and higher degree, meaning that they are given the right to study for the Masters degree when they enroll the university. In some fields such as medicine and dentistry the degrees are more extensive and the intermediate degrees were not introduced. Post graduate degrees (Licentiate, Doctorate) form the third cycle.

Finnish higher education institutions have used the ECTS system in international student mobility schemes. This has revealed problems in the Finnish credit unit system especially in university studies. That is why the Finnish degrees were reformed to be compatible with the ECTS in connection with the adoption of the two-cycle degree system. As the content was developed hand in hand with the degree structure, the universities took on a system of personal study plans to promote guidance and advancement in studies. At the same time, the reform gave the opportunity to shorten study times. In the transition stage old study attainments are assessed and translated into credits according to the new system. It was left to the universities to decide the regulations applied in the transition of the old study attainments.

The two-cycle degree system was not introduced to polytechnics. The status of polytechnic postgraduate degrees in the higher education system is still under discussion. The Diploma Supplement has been adopted by the universities and polytechnics actively.

Latvian credit point system, similarly to other Baltic states and some Nordic countries, was based upon the definition of credit point as workload of one week of full-time studies, thus leading to 40 credits per year. As regards the number of credits, such system is easily compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) - one Latvian credit is worth 1.5 ECTS credits. Latvia did not introduce the ECTS grading system. In contrast to a number of European countries, where credit system was first introduced for credit transfer after study periods abroad and usage of credit system also for accumulation only begun in terms of Bologna process, in Latvia credit system was used for accumulation from its very beginning, and duration of each programme was expressed in number of credit points.
Vast majority of Latvian higher education institutions have introduced credit point system based upon a definition of credit point as a workload of 40 hours of student’s work (one week of full-time studies), that results in 40 credit points per one study year. Since the beginning of its introduction (early 1990s in terms of the overall higher education reform), credit point system is used for credit accumulation. Credit point system has been recently endorsed by law and by the standards of academic and professional higher education. Both the duration of programmes and of individual courses is being expressed in credit points. A simple multiplication by 1.5 allows to recalculate Latvian credits into ECTS ones. At the same time, Latvia has not taken over the ECTS grading scale. A generalised system for assessment and recognition of lifelong learning results has to be created to ensure that it is possible to gain higher education credits through lifelong learning. Content and level of studies corresponding to each credit point should be fully described when further implementing the credit system.

For the last five years distance learning became quite popular. At the moment we still implement just separate courses, but these are really in demand; there trainings are organized in virtual environment. Students don’t have to leave home in order to do there assignment. As well in that environment you can place all necessary literature, so students would not waste time by going to the library. This environment is very convenient for students, which dwelling place is situated far from cities and they could attend classes or go to the library.
At the moment it is being used in different education projects. As an example project „Development of Adult Educational Institutions by providing modern competences in regions”. There part of trainings takes place in that environment.
As well institutions, those are responsible of adult education trying to provide equal opportunities to study for all adult age groups 25-64 years.
More over, our authorities are trying to provide a big variety of courses, in order to satisfy different needs of all adults.

Credit transfer works smoothly between the primary and the (lower and upper) secondary schools. Between the public sector colleges and universities credit transfer has until recently worked less smoothly. Between public universities and colleges on the one hand, and some private institutions and special public institutions (for instance army institutions) on the other hand, there are more problems of credit transfer. There are also problems concerning credit transfer from educational institutions in other countries. The grades achieved by Norwegian students who take part of their education abroad are usually not converted to grades within the Norwegian grading system, but their diploma will contain information on how large share of their study programme that is taken (passed) abroad (in time-equivalents). Presumably, many of these problems will fade away with the recent introduction of bachelor and masters programmes. Parallel with the introduction of bachelor and masters programmes, all institutions of higher education have also started using a new common system of grading, which replaces at least four different systems that have been used until now. The new system of study programmes and grading is in accordance with the Bologna declaration.


Study programme development
  • The transition to competence-based study programmes will be supported by information and training targeting the teaching staff, and covering the topics of modern teaching methods and assessment (with an emphasis on assessing the competence acquired).
  • In study programme development (incl. in-service training), the professional standards developed on the higher education level, and the need for in-service training, will be taken into account.
  • The organisation of work practice will be updated (incl. a clearer determination of the responsibility of the parties in the organisation of work practice, developing funding schemes that include enterprises, etc). There will be a clearer linking of work practice with the achievement of competence in the completion of a study programme.
  • In order to improve specialty Estonian-language skills, students will be able to take Estonian language study within the framework of elective subjects, to the extent of at least one credit point.
  • In order to strengthen international cooperation, and to expand the specialisation opportunities for students, legal acts will be prepared which will enable the issuing of joint degrees and joint diplomas (2006).

Labour market feedback
  • The feedback from labour market changes into the study process will be introduced through the compilation of regular labour market overviews and forecasts regarding workforce demand, by professional group and economic sector, and taking account population trends.
  • Employers will be included in the development of study programmes and in assuring quality.

Career guidance
  • A career guidance system will be developed, which operates on common principles and will enable all young people to find study programmes that are suitable for their interests and talents. Such a system will make specialty choices simpler, thereby enabling a saving in resources in the entire educational system (2006).
  • There will be regular analysis of the implementation of higher education graduates on the labour market, by the link between economic sector, professional group and specialty studied, and by pay rate and unemployment.
  • Opportunities will be created for career guidance training for teacher training students and for working teachers.

Estonian Higher Education Strategy, 2006–2015 specifies the strategic areas of development for Estonian higher education over the next 10 years including Lifelong learning and access to education (
Main principles are:
  1. In order to make higher education more accessible and to include non-traditional learners in the higher education system, measures will be developed which will enable the combination of studies, work and family life, and the taking into account of previous studies and work experience, as a significant part of completing the study programme. Universities will be autonomous in determining the conditions for entry and graduation.
  2. The access to higher education by learners with special needs will be supported.
  3. In order to improve the communication ability of young people, language-learning programmes will be initiated with the assistance of resources from the European Social Fund (ESF). Young people who do not speak Estonian as their mother tongue will have access with state support to Estonian language study of up to one extra year in duration. In the case of young people whose state language skills gave them a result of 60-80% in the state language test, ESF resources will be used in addition to state budget means.
  4. Within the framework of a pilot project, young people will be provided with access to professional higher education study after the completion of secondary vocational education based on basic education, without sitting for state examinations. After an analysis of the experience, a decision will be made as to whether this opportunity should be made the rule.
  5. The Ministry of Education and Research will cooperate with the higher education institutions to develop general national principles for the recognition of previous studies and work experience in the study process for all levels of study (together with career guidance).
  6. For lifelong learning there will be a goal to ensure access by 12.5% of the 25–64-year old population to in-service training and retraining, and to adult formal education (also including vocational education). A relevant funding scheme will also be created.
  7. In order to achieve this aim, the special benefit tax will be removed for formal education, state support principles for adult in-service training will be developed, access to state-commissioned education (SCE) will be ensured on the basis of secondary education for those adults who acquired secondary education before the implementation of state examinations, and it will be possible for persons with higher education to study part-time using a SCE student place in specialties preferred by the state.
  8. In order to increase access to higher education in the counties, the opportunities provided by e-learning will be actively utilised, developing higher education institutions' joint e-learning centres based on public law university colleges and the e-learning centres of the e-university project. In the centres it will be possible to study any of the programmes of the higher education institutions that have joined the e-university, and if this condition is filled, state support for education specialists and tutors will be guaranteed


The first steps in the Information Society are taken in children’s day care centres, where digital portfolios are used for the interaction between the family and the staff as well as for collecting the multi media material created by the children themselves. This pilot project started in Tampere already the year 1998 by an initiative of a parent and has continued in cooperation between municipalities and the universities and polytechnics in the region.

Teachers in basic schooling have been introduced to eLearning as well. The requisition of new learning methods has benefited by the rather modern technical equipment in the schools. According to the PISA assessment on learning outcomes, young Finns were among the OECD top in mathematics, science, reading and problem-solving. At the same time, projects have been launched to support the growing number of learners with specific needs. Increasing young people’s opportunities to influence and participation are seen as means of preventing dropping out of education and marginalization.

In secondary education eLearning courses have been provided online in the cooperation between National Board of Education, the Finnish Broadcasting Company and the networks of schools. Also here the training of teachers for eLearning has been crucial. Field specific online courses have been developed in cooperation between the schools. In liberal education the courses have been focused on basic computer and ICT skills.

In Finland, university continuing education centres have been pioneers in developing open and distance learning. The aim has been to build flexible learning environments and take advantage of online possibilities in education. The clientele has included universities, polytechnics, vocational institutes, adult education institutes, companies and the public sector in Finland.

Also in adult education learning has partly moved from the classroom to the workplace or the home of the learner. Some find these new learning methods difficult and challenging. The world of work is divided by a “digital gap” - some are very familiar with ICT and some have no skills at all. That is why part of the work falling to educator’s shoulders is to consult and train their target groups to take full advantage of these new ways of supporting learning.

Despite the development work done by the education organisations, a great volume of learning online in Finland is provided by media companies, publishing houses and companies who organise personnel training for their staff. In the media modular eLearning has been criticised to be time consuming for the hectic work environment. Performance support, knowledge management and informal learning have been suggested as new trends for web supported learning in companies. The idea is to share tacit knowledge and best practices within the learning organisation in a fast and efficient way.

Within higher education, the networks of universities have created various services for their members and the public. The Finnish Virtual University (FVU), a partnership of all 21 Finnish universities, financed a nationwide education project (TieVie) for university staff to improve their skills in integrating technology into teaching. Another form of cooperation within the FVU is an Online Courses Database of all the courses provided by the universities targeted at graduate or post-graduate degree students. Similar services have been set up by other providers for open university and continuing education.

Funet-TV, a service for transmission of live video, videoconferencing and Video-On-Demand material stored in the media archives, is a joint development project of the Finnish Science IT centre CSC and the Finnish universities. The purpose of Funet-TV is to produce Internet networked multimedia services to the network to support research and education activities in the Finnish universities.

e-Learning is at a constant change as the technologies evolve into more flexible and user-friendly applications. The recent development in web technology (often referred to as Web 2.0) has changed the way we use the Internet and how we interact with each other. Popular websites like YouTube or MySpace have one thing in common: they provide only the tools and the users create the content. This change is inevitable in web-based learning. Education will become more learner centered and technology can be used by the students to, for instance, create the content of the course collaboratively.

One of the keywords of Web 2.0 is social technology. Some of the best examples of these technologies are wikis and blogs. Internet is a powerful tool for connecting people and creating communities, and these tools could be used to create communities of learning. Course management systems we use today concentrate on the course and the content created by the teacher. Wikis and blogs, for instance, place the learner in the center of the learning process. Blogs made by the students can form a shared knowledge resource for the students and the teacher, but also for the entire public using the Internet.

Besides learning online, attention has been drawn also to other areas, such as guidance and counselling and study administration. The services online include a service for flexible study rights (JOOPAS), a tool for designing a personal study plan (OVI), and an online tutoring system (IQ FORM).

The academic administration systems in universities have gradually evolved from information systems used by a narrow group of experts into versatile electronic access services for teachers and students. The Ministry of Education has launched a taskforce to review the current academic administration systems used in universities and to draw up proposals for how to deal with electronic access systems in the future.

The contents of adult continuing education programmes and study methods are determined by the development of the society, the job market and general interests of the population in a certain area. It is suggested that higher education institutions promote developing of module based programmes. Module based learning gives the learner confidence and possibilities to choose time, pace and intensity of their studies. All the programmes can be offered full-time, part-time, flexi-time and through distance learning. A focus should be put on a transition from a direct contact to distance learning, as well as independent learning, with wide application of IT. All the study forms can be evaluated and recognized. Apart from using IT, the changing society requires several other interactive teaching / learning methods:
  • group work;
  • business-like and role-plays;
  • learning in action, learning by doing, with tasks on practice and their analysis;
  • video training, as well as the use of audio and video materials;
  • development of projects and their presentation;
  • problem based learning;
  • organising of presentations and their analysis;
  • learning to teach others, develop study aids;
  • promoting independent learning.

It is also suggested that all higher education institutions should work together on developing a Virtual University. It would promote e-learning in Latvia, co-operation between the institutions, cost effectiveness of the use of resources and competitiveness of Latvian education system in Europe.

For the last five years distance learning became quite popular. At the moment we still implement just separate courses, but these are really in demand; there trainings are organized in virtual environment. Students don’t have to leave home in order to do there assignment. As well in that environment you can place all necessary literature, so students would not waste time by going to the library. This environment is very convenient for students, which dwelling place is situated far from cities and they could attend classes or go to the library.
At the moment it is being used in different education projects. As an example project „Development of Adult Educational Institutions by providing modern competences in regions”. There part of trainings takes place in that environment.
As well institutions, those are responsible of adult education trying to provide equal opportunities to study for all adult age groups 25-64 years.
More over, our authorities are trying to provide a big variety of courses, in order to satisfy different needs of all adults.

As already mentioned, distant learning has for three or four decades been important in Norway. Distant learning was earlier mainly based on written communication (+ cassettes in language courses). Recently, this has to a large extent been substituted by e-learning involving more inter-active communication between the instructors and the students.

Also in non-distant learning there is today much more emphasis on two-way communication between instructors and students. Since 2004 this has been formalised in Norwegian higher education, so that students in most courses are required to hand in at least one assignment. When it comes to grading, it is to an increasing extent based on results obtained on the assignments students hand in during the year, but the final exams still count more heavily when the grades are set.
Norway Opening Universities (NOU) is a national initiative for change and innovation in Norwegian higher education. It was established in January 2004 by merging The Norwegian Agency for Flexible Learning in Higher Education (SOFF) and The Norwegian University Network for Lifelong Learning (Norgesuniversitetet). The headquarter of NOU is at the University of Tromsø. NOU’s main task is to stimulate the development of lifelong and flexible learning in higher education, to generate and share knowledge, and to be a policy advisor for the Ministry in this field. The main field of activity for NOU is higher education. However, NOU is also to be used in other areas of the educational field, for example related to policy initiatives in the field of adult education. The internet address of the Norway Opening University is:


Finland – Turku Academic Career Services


Turku Academic Career Services is a unit providing wide selection of services for the students and graduates of the three universities in Turku – University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University and Turku School of Economics and Business Administration. The staff consists of people from the universities and the Employment Office, which is also an integral part of the Career Services. The customers of the services are students, graduates, universities and employers.
The main objective of the services is to support and promote employment and employability of the students and graduates. Guidance and counselling concerning career planning and management is offered for students in every stage of the studies from the selection of study programmes to alumni.
The services provided are career guidance, recruiting, placements, first destination surveys, information about the labour market, « job corner », courses on job searching and information about « starting your own business ». Over 50 % of the graduates claim to have used the services available during their studies. Guidance, recruiting and placements are the most popular ones.
The three co-operating universities have 25 000 - 30 000 degree students altogether, University of Turku being the largest one with some 18 000 students. The number of graduates is about 2000 each year. Approximately 600-700 students visit the premises every month, and more than 1200 students attended seminars in the year 2004. The websites of the services have gained major popularity with more than 20 000 visitors per month. Every student receives information about the services when they begin their studies and when they graduate.
The services are fairly well-known among the employers. In 2004 more than 1800 separate job vacancies in international, national and local employers were informed by the services to job seekers. According to a research by Taloustutkimus Oy among employers and human resources managers in Turku region, Turku Academic Career Services was ranked as the second best provider of recruitment services for employers.
Faculties and departments in the universities are using the services in order to develop the study programmes from the labour market perspective so that the students would be able to develop the needed skills and competencies during their studies. This is mostly done by assessing the feedback from the first destination studies as well as from the employers directly. Also the functioning of the system for placements, internship and training is evaluated annually in co-operation with Career Services and faculties.
The staff includes 5 career advisers, a psychologist, an employment adviser, an info desk secretary, a researcher and a department secretary. Unit’s operations are based on co-operation but every organisation (three universities and Employment Office) is responsible for it’s administration, resources, finance, etc. Common expenses are administered according to an agreement.
The services are available in Finnish, Swedish and English languages.



Guidance services can be divided to advice services and guidance services. Advising means giving a single information to the client, when guidance is interactive conversation about the clients situation, future plans etc. Both services are provided individually and in groups. The target groups for the guidance services are students and recently graduated academic jobseekers. Employment Office provides guidance services for job seeking clients by a psychologist and an employment counsellor specialized in academic labour market.
Working in the field of career guidance requires individual approach. It is possible (and advisable) to standardize the guidance procedure at least partly in order to maintain the high standard and ensure equal treatment in guidance. Each client has, however, individual background, values, needs and aims. Therefore it is not possible to create any universal solution to career problems, regardless of field of study and individual choices.
Theories about guidance methods are familiar among the guidance staff, but each counsellor may conduct the work according to the method which is best fitted for the counsellor and for each client. The most common methods are based on constructivist approach. It is also common to apply so-called solution focused and resource oriented methods, where the idea of working is based on brief, appreciative, collaborating and resource oriented ways in the field of guidance. These approaches are empathizing the empowerment of the client; he/she has already the needed skills and competences, but it is one of the roles of the guidance to make these skills apparent.
The guidance process begins usually as the students come to the office, although more and more frequently the first contact comes by e-mail. An info desk secretary will help the student to find a specialist according to the individual needs, or guide the client to find information by him or herself from the information services available (newspapers, magazines, the Internet). The premises are located in the middle of the campus area in the city of Turku. The service is set up in an easy-access basis and the information services are available for all without any registration procedures. All the services are available free of charge.
From the autumn of 1994 the Turku Academic Career Services has been a unit of co-operation between the University of Turku, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Åbo Akademi and the Employment Office of Turku. This model and the opportunities it provides constitute the factors that brand the agency both functionally and organizationally.
The three universities represent the academic community widely. More than half of the students who graduate from the universities of Turku find employment in the Turku area.
The primary mission of Turku Academic Career Services is to support the academic students and jobseekers when they are placing themselves in the working life. The services can be described with the following adjectives:

High quality
Products, services and functions are adapted to purpose, of high quality and they are produced as well as possible.

The unit reacts to changes and needs that become evident in the operational environment and is a part of these changes. The unit also creates development and steers the direction of changes.

Effective and innovative
Functions have effectiveness and they are successful and innovative. The success and effectiveness of these functions justify the investments.
During the ten years of activity several established and advanced functions have been created. Further development of the services is based on systematic client-feedback. In addition to this the unit is active on developing new functions both spontaneously and in co-operation with other organizations.
Career Services operates as an interactive channel between education and working life. One of the major aims is to integrate labour market orientation and feedback to study programmes and to students’ individual study plans. There are several ways to enhance “learning by doing” during the studies – some examples:

Employers, departments, faculties, the rest of the university and the students use the Career Services as an expert in questions of training and placement. Career Services notifies about the importance of training both as a learning process and as a promoter in a transition to the working life. Because of the importance of training period, the students should make their choices according to relevant individual counselling.
For the employers the training provides a chance to become acquainted with the know-how of the students and it gives them a channel to the most recent academic knowledge.

There is a “Way to the working life” –project that has been developed and executed in collaboration with the alumni practice of the University of Turku. The Career Services is participating in choosing, coaching and the follow-up of the students, whereas the alumni coordinator provides the students with mentors by putting to use the network of active alumni.
The aim is to provide the students with contacts to the working life and a deeper outlook to the labour market, opportunities of employment, assignments and requirements.

Working Life Thesis
The students are encouraged to make their thesis either directly to a working life organisation (companies, institutions, associations, etc) or in collaboration with university department and working life organisation.
The aim is to provide the students with contacts to possible future employers as well as to give students a chance to take part in “real-life” problem solving processes.

First Destination Survey
Career Services sends yearly a questionnaire to the newly graduated in which they are asked to evaluate their position in the labour market and the factors that have impact in it. Career Services circulates this information in printed reports and in the Internet. The information is also distributed via lectures in different occasions and via articles in media.
The primary aim for the First Destination Survey is to provide information about the labour market for the whole university. It supports the career advice given in Career Services and helps the guidance given elsewhere in the university. The received information can/could be used in student recruiting and in developing the studies.
Career Services participates actively in developing new curricula and remodelling the old ones. With the remodelling of the system of degrees and curricula there has been discussion about the interaction between the university studies and the working life, the relevance of the studies with the needs of the working life and the generic working life skills that the education gives. A number of faculties and departments are planning and piloting special working life oriented study modules, in which Career Services is producing material and giving instruction.
The unit is a partner in different projects and working groups that are developing the study programmes and study guidance. There’s a wide collaboration between faculties, departments and different study supporting units, but also between local, national and international networks (FEDORA, PEDA-Forum, Aarresaari).
In the near future one of the most important targets of development will be the evaluation of the new personal/individual curricula from working life’s point of view. Each student makes a personal study plan/curriculum in the beginning of the studies. The plan is assessed and revised with the study counsellor every now and then. The working life orientation and relevance of the plan can be discussed with career adviser.

Well-being of the students
The unit is also participating in various student social well-being projects in collaboration with other organisations. The mental pressure that students feel is a consequence of the uncertainty. Often students are not enough aware of the direction the studies are leading to, and they may be wondering weather the choices they have made are the right ones. This uncertainty weakens the motivation to study, which may lead to prolonged studies and poorer study success.
The aim is to give these uncertain students information, knowledge and the equipment to evaluate the choices and to make right decisions.


A variety of services are available for the students. Individual and group counselling is provided. Career advisers and psychologists help the students to structure their studies and prepare for working life. The students sometimes have lost their motivation to continue their studies and to graduate. Some have found the academic-level studies too demanding. Counselling for life management skills is the key element in these cases. Many problems are solved in individual counselling where the career advisor or psychologist asks the relevant questions to the client, helping the client to find the answers him or herself. Peer support from similar or different clients help to set things into perspective. Some of the clients are referred to consultation by the mental health services of the Finnish Student Health Service unit of Turku.
Individual guidance includes career guidance and advice discussions with career advisers, vocational guidance, evaluation of personal suitability and working ability, labour guidance and entrepreneurship guidance.
The target of the individual guidance is to clear the client’s career plans and job seeking situation, to increase knowledge about the process of job hunting and about the situation in the labour market and to get an objective picture of oneself as a job applicant. In the deepened guidance discussions the goal is to improve the client’s self-knowledge and to chart his/her resources in relation to studying and working. Better self-knowledge increases and allocates jobseeker’s motivation for studying and searching for work.
The different forms of group guidance consist of info sessions about job seeking, small discussion groups for career planning, career groups and different workshops. The goals are basically the same as in individual guidance, but group discussions often bring a wider perspective to career planning and job seeking.
One qualitative improvement is to develop a concept of coaching guidance, where client’s development could be guided and followed more systematically. The feedback system of the guidance services could be improved by expanding the use of the feedback form.
Although Guidance Services are designed for the whole span of studies, it is important to reach the students as early as possible, so that the career choices could be planned in time. For example all the students in Åbo Akademi University are invited for career guidance discussion in their second year of studying. When they advance in their studies they will be called in discussions for the second time.


A career advisor helps the client to identify and clarify career orientations and competences in the labour market. The advisor can suggest the client to use the services of a career counselling psychologist. The psychologist and client can identify together a possible need for a further consultation to find out if the client has learning difficulties, life management or mental problems.
In the University of Turku there has been developed a new form of psychological guidance for the students with learning difficulties. During the first couple of years of the activity it has proven to be highly valued and needed service as the use of the service has exceeded all expectations. It has previously been taken for granted that the university-level students would be well enough equipped with learning skills and competencies. The studies are, however, become more complex and demanding and at the same time the pressure from the outside (e.g. the restrictions in the system for financial aid to students) has become harder to meet and cope with.


The Career Services is organised as a cooperation unit of the three universities in Turku. The Employment Office provides an essential part of the services available. The cooperation model also brings the vast resources (e.g. information, vacancies) of the Employment administration « under the same roof ». The services has a computer room with access to the registries and databases of job offers and to the Internet. A researcher specialised to labour market information provides the staff and clients with topical information.
The Finnish labour market is quite Helsinki-oriented. The unemployment rate of the population in working age is 8 % and among academics it is 2-4 %. Employers appreciate proper education, work-experience, social skills, languages and activity.
Best advice for students in their final year and for the newly graduated job seekers to get a job is that they have to be active and have own initiative. According to a recent survey, almost ¾ out of true job opportunities are invisible in a way that employers do not publish an advertisement but hire people from prevailing contact networks. However, it is important to use the services of the employment office, recruiting agencies, career services – they offer information about jobs they can apply for and about ways to enter into the invisible labour market.

The recruitment procedure can be seen as a 6 level model:

  1. Job ad /own activity
  2. Acquiring further information by phone call or e-mail
  3. Sending an application
  4. Interviews
  5. Psychometric evaluation of skills, competencies and orientation/motivation
  6. (more interviews)
  7. Decision

The decision making can take from 2 weeks to 6 months.

The application works as motivational letter and CV. It should be sent on time. The employers favour short and clear applications with relevant information and good language. It is important to tell who you are, why do you want the job and what you can offer.
CV is usually from one to two pages. It contains personal information and also facts concerning education, work experience, language skills, it-skills and hobbies.
In interviews it is good to prepare yourself by finding information about the employer. It is also important to be prepared to answer questions about motivation, personality and work experience. The interviews usually take from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Best thing is to be just yourself an rely on your skills and competencies.
Psychometric evaluation might easily take a working day. During that day, consultants are testing your personality and/or skills. It is important to answer truthfully – not what you think they want you to answer.




Almost all the Finnish universities have a Career Services Office. The academic career services are organized as network called Aarresaari. The network operates in various levels of activities, most seemingly as a website in Apart from the website, the network promotes issues of marketing, quality assurance and professional development. Turku Academic Career Services has been an active partner in the network from its’ beginning.
Career Services were established in 1994, in the middle of a very difficult depression in the Finnish labour market – unemployment rate among the newly graduated was in general between 15-20 % depending on field of studies. Thus the primary aim was to promote immediate employment by strengthening the job exchange system targeted for newly graduated people, and by launching new forms of labour market oriented courses usually provided by the Centres for Extension Studies in Universities.
As the situation in the labour market got better during the other half of the 1990’s, the development of the services was focused more and more to guidance and counselling of the students from the very beginning of their studies. Apart from being an active partner and reacting to changes in the labour market, the services wanted to make a proactive influence in the development of both education and labour market.
In the beginning of the new millennium, the services’ cooperation with faculties and departments for the development of study programmes in the labour market point of view was enhanced. The concept of employability is discussed especially in the so-called Bologna Process. National network (Aarresaari) wrote and sent a memorandum to the preparation committee for Bologna Process of the Ministry of Education. In the memorandum, the career services focused especially on the issues of guidance, counselling and placements/internship/training.

The services supplement the possibly inadequate guidance and counselling services available in the faculties and departments as far as career planning is concerned. The system of guidance in each university is based on cooperation and interaction between various providers, which ensures that no overlapping or gaps should exist.

  • In the department/faculty level, guidance is provided by study counsellors, tutors (both students and teachers) and teaching personnel.
  • In the university level the guidance providers consist of career advisers and a psychologist for those students who have difficulties in learning.
  • Among other providers of guidance (outside university administration) for students and graduates could be mentioned the Student Unions of Universities, Finnish Student Health Service and Trade Unions.

Because there are plenty of choices and actors in the field of guidance and counselling, the effective cooperation is needed. In its’ activities, Turku Academic Career Services is linking most of the providers to interaction whenever possible. This requires, however, the existence of (more or less) formal channels, working groups, meetings, efficient use of ICT, etc.
The cooperation between the staff members is enhanced by the fact that they share the same office and also meet during the informal situations (coffee & lunch breaks) during the work days. Crossing the borders of one’s individual organisation and scope of duties is more fluent when the staff knows each other and interacts in a daily basis. Innovative work methods and approaches are developed using the resources of the universities and the Employment administration. Experiences of these are then disseminated and mainstreamed in the faculties and departments by the networks of the individual staff members.


The individual student and graduate can choose quite freely, which organization he/she takes contact with when there is a need for guidance. As all the providers are (should be) aware of others’ services, each one of them is able to refer the client to more accurate counselling services when necessary.
Almost all information that is gathered during the counselling process about the client is confident by nature. That fact restricts direct transfer or exchange of information between different providers of guidance, at least without the permission of the client.

3.3 EVALUATION METHODS The efficiency of the activities can be evaluated by various methods. The most important is client-feedback, both immediate (usually oral) feedback and postponed (written) feedback. The difficulty in immediate feedback is that it may include a factor of ‘social pleasing’; people tend to give more positive feedback in a face-to-face situation than later on, when they can give their opinion freely, outside the immediate context and personal contact with the adviser.
The clients have the opportunity to give their feedback by filling in a form, which is available in the premises, and leaving the form anonymously in a feedback-box. Forms are collected every now and then, and the answers are summarized as a report. The clients can evaluate the existing services in general, the services that they have themselves used in detail, and they are given a chance to propose improvements and ideas for new services.
The annual first destination survey consists partly of a general feedback of the Career Services. This is also a relevant way to evaluate the rate of use of the services among the whole population of recent graduates. That rate can be analyzed and the results can be grouped by faculty, by department etc. which gives important information for the marketing strategies as well, as it will be known in which faculties the students may be lacking sufficient awareness of the services.
Aarresaari –network is providing a model for quality assurance in career services for the units. Each unit has the opportunity to make use of the tested model when it decides to evaluate the quality of the services. Apart from self-evaluation it is possible to arrange a peer review, where the quality assurance working group of the Aarresaari –network audits the unit on the basis of its’ self-evaluation report.
Turku Academic Career Services made a thorough self-evaluation report of the services during 2004 and the unit was audited in December 2004. The aim of the project was to make a profound analysis of all the functions and services, and to make the work done by the unit more apparent and transparent for external evaluation. The project and also the peer review revealed that there is a need for setting clear priorities for all the activities in order to distribute the available resources according to importance of various tasks and responsibilities.
Turku Academic Career Services has been involved in various other QA-projects and external evaluations. The COIMBRA Group of European Universities (see made a review of TACS activities and services in 2002, together with a similar monitoring of the services provided by the University of Granada and a consultative survey among other COIMBRA Group Universities. The review was a part of the LABORIENT –project (Lifelong Guidance; Competence, Partnership and Networking at the European Scale), financed by joint actions of Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Youth Programmes.
Career guidance services have been evaluated within comprehensive evaluations of quality, efficiency and regional role of some of the universities (External Impact of the University of Turku, 2000). At the moment there is a wide interest in quality assurance in the Finnish system of higher education. Each university is currently preparing to evaluate their teaching, research and other activities according to national framework provided by the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC).
Among employers the services have been reviewed in 1998 by Taloustutkimus. According to this research, Turku Academic Career Services was ranked as second best provider of recruitment services in Turku region. There is in fact no true competition situation between the unit and other providers of recruitment services as TACS is not a commercial organisation. The unit is collaborating with both governmental bodies (local Employment Office, regional Employment and Economic Development Centres) and private companies (HRM/HRD consultancy and labour hiring companies).




In 2004 the national networks of the Career Services in Finnish universities (Aarresaari –network, see and polytechnics (AMK-rekryt, see launched a project concerning the profile, competencies and needs for professional development of career advisers. The project was financed and managed in co-operation with the networks. Operational responsibility of the project was given to the Career Services of the University of Turku.

There are no formal specifications required for a person who gives career guidance in an institution of higher education in Finland. One of the questions that was studied in the project was the need for such requirements, and according to the final report of the project, more than 50% of the career advisers do not see any relevance in formal specifications. They were asked which kind of competencies are, anyway, needed in the profession:

  • Personal guidance ; ability to listen, basic knowledge of guidance methods, social/interpersonal skills
  • Group guidance ; same as above + pedagogical skills, presentation skills
  • Co-operation with employers ; social/interpersonal skills, communication and marketing skills, knowledge of labour market
  • Recruitment ; ICT-skills, knowledge of labour market, knowledge of various recruitment processes
  • First destination studies ; methodological skills, ICT-skills, knowledge of labour market
  • Strategic planning ; visionary and innovative orientation, management skills, conceptual understanding
  • Management ; personnel management skills, interpersonal skills, ability to organize

Among other competencies and skills that are required could be mentioned a passion to be of service to the client and capacity to encourage the client to get involved and help themselves.
Among other sources of information about the characteristics of the counsellor could be recommended « Map of Competencies of the Guidance Workers », published within LABORIENT –project (SOIB & Scienter España SL, 2003). The map of competencies in the project report is more focused in self-management skills of the counsellor ; self-assessment, self-knowledge, keeping the high level of motivation and overcoming anxiety and tiredness, professional development, etc.
Counsellor’s basic role is to support client’s own decision making process by providing relevant and accurate information and by reflecting alternatives with the client. Long-term effects of good counselling are better self-awareness and self-confidence, which enable better career management and life-management for the client in future situations as well.


Career advisers are offered various opportunities for professional development. The universities provide general courses for all employees on pedagogical development, current academic and administrative issues in higher education, etc. The national networks of Career Services offer courses on guidance skills and methods, and seminars on current labour market issues.
The unit itself arranges educative and informative seminars for its’ personnel. In personal level, the heads of units have development discussions with all employees annually. A general principle is that each person in the staff has an opportunity and is encouraged to participate in education for professional development.

Educational programme for municipal leaders. This programme has been developed by Agder University College in collaboration with the municipality of Kristiansand. It is a programme aiming at providing leaders at municipal units (principals, heads of nursing-homes and nurseries, etc.) with a better background for their administrative positions. Nearly all participants in this program had a professional education, containing no elements of economics, law and organisation theory. It takes a student 2 years to complete the programme, which is organized as a part-time programme. Half a year is used for studying each of the main subjects (economics, law and organisation theory), and at the end the students have to write a thesis related to their work. Lectures are given in two-days-blocks, with 6 or 7 blocks in half a year, and for each subject there is a group examination. Students and their employer have evaluated the programme very favourably.

School management for principals (Rektorskolen). This programme has been developed in collaboration between the University of Oslo, the University of Tromsø, Agder University College, and Sogn and Fjordane University College. It contains five modules of equal size: Management of education, leadership in educational institutions, law, economic management, and organisational theory, and give students 50 ECTS credit points. The aim is to educate principals to become better administrative leaders. The management-for-principals programme can also be used by students as part of a master in educational management. The programme is a part-time programme, and is mainly based on electronic learning, where the students each week download the study programme for the week. At the end of each module there is an exam.

Estonia – Estonian e-University
Estonian e-University has evolved into a development centre for higher education which in cooperation with institutions of higher education (HEI) develops and implements innovative and effective technological and pedagogical solutions for carrying out the study process. Estonian e-University is for both Estonian and foreign students a gateway to Estonian higher education and a considerable international partner for implementing e-learning initiatives in Europe. Also vocational schools have started to create a similar network.
The most recent initiative that is also currently related to Tiger University programme via institutional belonging and financing is Estonian e-University ( which was officially launched in February 2003 as a consortium of 6 Estonian HEIs1.

Functions of Estonian e-University are:
  • Coordination of cooperation between universities and applied universities based on principles of profound studies
  • Increasing the availability of quality education for students and other people willing to learn, for example adults, handicapped people, Estonians abroad and foreign students
  • Educating lecturers of universities to compile and practice quality and efficient e-courses
  • Providing lecturers with necessary technical equipment
  • Improving the reputation of university education in Estonia and creating contacts for cooperation between foreign universities and business circles
  • The e-University is the developer and provider of a necessary technological environment needed for e-learning
  • Portal (including a database for courses and learning objects),
  • Learning environment,
  • Exchange system for courses.
  • Necessary infrastructure for e-learning (incl. regional centres).

Number of Students
Estonian IT CollegeWebCT10300
Estonian Agricultural UniversityWebCT8200
Estonian Business SchoolWebCT28550
Tallinn Technical UniversityWebCT38400
University of TartuWebCT1505800
Tallinn Pedagogical UniversityIVA+Learnloop932500

E-learning is a very popular form of distance learning in vocational educational institutions and universities. e-University (e-Ülikool), introduced in 2003, is backed by a consortium of higher education institutions. The target group are those who study at universities, in particular those who participate in in-service training, study part-time or live in secluded rural areas. At the moment the share of e-courses is up to 5% of all courses. Elements of e-study are also used to supplement ordinary courses. The development strategy of e-University 200407 includes: 50% of all courses are partially covered by forms of e-study; regional study centres are established in 12 of 15 counties; some e-study curricula are targeted to international markets.
Vocational educational institutions are creating a similar network. In February 2005, a memorandum on e-Vocational school (e-Kutsekool) was signed. The development and implementation of e-studies at vocational educational institutions and institutions of higher education is carried out through a European Social Fund project.

Project “LÜKKA”,

The main purpose of the present project is the increase of the competition capacity of university graduates and of the competence for working on the labour market of a knowledge based society through the collaboration of universities and other parties developing study activities. The duration of the project is from the August 2005 until June 2008 and the performance of the project is supported by the European Social Fund.

The project includes 15 partners: Tartu University (the institution performing and coordinating the project), Tallinn University, Tallinn Technical University, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonian Academy of Music, Estonian Art Academy, Tartu Kutsehariduskeskus (trading school), Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, Association of Estonian Adult Educators ANDRAS, Eesti Üliõpilaskondade Liit NPA, Tartu Kõrgem Kunstikool, Kutsekvalifikatsiooni Sihtasutus, Rectors Council NPA, Estonian Business School, Estonian Association for Quality NPA and SA Archimedes.

The development of study activities within the frame of the present project includes the development of study programmes and training methods, the general improvement of the quality of studies, the development of support system of students and study support counselling, the development of support systems of internship and taking in account of previous study and work experience. The development of study activities also includes the assistance to improve the social and economic situation of the students
For the completion of the main purpose following sub-purposes have to be completed:
  • The increase of the quality of the higher education to the internationally recognised level by developing the cooperation between universities in warranting and evaluating the quality of study activities.
  • The developing of study programmes of Bachelor's and Master's studies by transforming them into competence based and internationally competitive programmes.
  • The achievement of innovatory study process through the improvement of the skills of teaching staff.
  • The support of students through the development of the student aimed counseling system (e. g. counseling upon career and education as well as psychological counseling).
  • The development of the support systems of the internship according to the expectations of the labour market.
  • The elaboration of the conception of the improvement of the social-economic situation of the students and the social infrastructure by taking in account of possibilities of unified Estonia and necessities of the students.
  • The development of life-time studies and the development of the correlations between the labour market through the creation and establishment of taking in account of previous study and work experience in collaboration between universities, institutions of professional higher education, vocational educational institutions, Kutsekoda and Ministry of Research and Education.
  • The creation of the web based information and development center of higher education: for the presentation of information and auxiliary materials, training information, results of the research within the frame of higher education etc, and for the application of counseling systems.

Adult Learners Week (ALW)

The Adult Learners Week (ALW) promoting lifelong learning has been organised by Andras in co-operation with the Ministry of Education and Research since 1998. It has become an annual event taking place in the second week of October. The event is prepared and organised by local authorities, non-profit organisations, associations of employers, training providers and their associations. The week includes the awarding prizes to the best learner, best training provider, most learner friendly organisation and most learner friendly local authority. The number of people and organisations applying for recognition is increasing each year (

Open University

First Open Universities were launched in 1996 and in 1998 the first project tackling the need for interuniversity cooperation in this field initiated (Tempus project for “Developing Open University Infrastructure in Estonia” 1998-2001) with three biggest public universities as partners. Another cooperation initiative started by the universities was the establishment of the Estonian Network for University Continuing Education in January 2001 (
Life-long learning in the universities is co-ordinate by the Open Universities.
The Open Universities provide an opportunities for life-long learning for all those who are interested in it without causing serious disruptions in their every day lives.

The mission of the Open Universities is
  • To improve access to education
  • To diversify study opportunities
  • To make the education more student-centred, taking the student's needs into greater account
  • To provide high quality education under maximum flexibility, with course offerings being independent of time and place

Today the Open University is a successful hallmark of the Estonians Universities


Latvia – New basic skills for all

“Development of Social Competencies and basic Skills for Adults” is a Latvian project funded by the Latvian Society Integration Foundation and implemented by the Latvian Adult Education Association (LAEA) in co-operation with 10 regional adult education centres in 2002. The objective was to foster social integration of ethnic and social minorities and to raise their social and basic skills in order to raise their employability. VUC has developed the idea further and together with several EU universities s a project with the aim to study linguistic problems in Latvia, foster social integration of minorities through acquisition of the state language in the framework of the work environment by using new innovative methods and learning tools.
More investment in human resources

In Latvia in 1999-2001 the Latvian Association of Education for Adults in co-operation with the Nordic Folk Academy and the German Adult Education Institute implemented the project “Building Learning and Social Integration Pathways for Excluded Youth and Young Adults”. The aim of the project was to discover the actual circumstances in adult further education on rural Latvia, and to create personal developmental plans for youth (young people age 15-25). The target group was youth with primary education presently not studying or having a permanent job. VUC would like to develop the idea in Vidzeme Region and attract the excluded young people in order to get them back on educational path. The project group meeting will be in Turkey in May.

Innovation of teaching methods

In 2000-2002 the Latvian Association of Education for Adults, together with the Nordic Folk Academy, the Lithuanian Association for Education for Adults and the Estonian Association of Non-formal Education for Adults were implementing a project for Adult trainers, called “Learning 4 Sharing/KomPas”. The main goal was to provide a possibility for Baltic adult educators to create training models for adult education practitioners.
The project delivered three main benefits:
  1. The international work and networking provided new partnerships between different organisations and expertise on a wide range of topics, e.g. theory of adult education, adult education management, and civic education, distance learning and others.
  2. The criteria defined for the competencies of adult trainers provide a new approach for the further training of adult educators: to focus on what are the characteristics of a good adult educator.
  3. A new education for adult educators dealing with different groups of practitioners such as educators, social workers, in-service consultants, trainers etc.

Valuing learning

In relation to the Bologna process and the Lisbon strategy, Vidzeme University College is going to develop the system of quality assurance and the recognition of its non-formal courses. VUC has joined European University Continuing Education Network and together with the other member states preparing a project concerning university LLL quality in general. The main targeted area is quality university continuing education activities: courses, seminars, projects, collaborations, partnerships, students’ experiences, recognition of prior learning, special access arrangements, advice and guidance, involvement in Grundtvig projects. If the project is accepted by EC, it will be an example of very good practice.

Rethinking guidance and counselling

VUC and UNDP project “Fostering Rural Development: Linking Education with Business” The guidance and counselling centre was established to help farmers and people from rural areas to prepare projects for European Structural Funds.

Bringing learning closer to home

Vidzeme University College (VUC) was established in 1996 in order to stop the intellectual brain-drain of the northern region of Latvia and bring higher education closer to people’s homes.

Other good practices

Within the framework of EU Leonardo da Vinci programme the bilateral projects “Internship for Latvian students in Europe” has been implemented by Vidzeme University College since 2000. The objective of these projects is to promote the mobility of VUC students by acquiring new professional skills and knowledge in other countries. Since Latvian credit point system is compatible with ECTS, the credits students get in European countries for their internships are transferred to their diplomas.

Every summer since 1999 VUC has organized the Baltic International Summer School for international students, teachers and interested persons from all over the world. Baltic International Summer School (BISS) is a high quality summer study programme that fosters network building and cross-cultural understanding. It includes a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses on Baltic and Northern European political and economical processes as well as history, philosophy, culture and languages. The courses are developed and taught in English. The school issues a diploma and the credit points gained can be transferred to all the countries using ECTS system.


Recognition of non-formal adult education in sector of vocational training and junior college education could be possible subject for discussions concerning good practice examples for the project.

Competence obtained in non-formal way can be recognized as a part of formal education programme or as a part of formal education qualification by the order established by Government or Government-authorized institution or under regulations set by higher education institution according to the Law on Amendment of the Law on Education (2003). However, there’s no system created to transfer credits earned in institutions of non-formal education to institutions of formal education practically.

Higher education institution can provide studies designed for qualification’s improvement and further development according an article 43 of the Law on Higher Education. Such studies are provided according consecutive and non-consecutive study programs. The results of continuing studies can be measured in credits according order established by higher education institution. Persons who gather proper amount of credits according particular study programme can be awarded higher education qualification

As well as a good practice example could mentioned remote study courses. Which usually are developed for deepening knowledge in different subjects. A lot of attention are drown to adult teachers. Authorities are trying to develop adult-friendly courses. So that adults would be interested in knew courses, and that those courses would be easy to assimilate.

One of the things that authorities trying to do, is popularization of adult education through different articales in press. For that purpose a new magazine is being released. That magazine is called “Adult education" and it is being issued by Lithuanian adult education and information centre. In this magazine all important adult education issues are analyzed. It is very popular among adult education centres and among adults themselves, who are willing to learn. This magazine takes great part in popularization of Life Long Learning strategy. There you can find not only statistical information about how many adults take part in formal or non formal adult education, but as well there a lot of articles about particular projects or courses that are or will be organized for adults.

Also Lithuanian adult education and information centre as well as other institution responsibile for poplarization of Life Long Learning, for the last few years have organized various courses, for adult with different interest. For example, courses for parents about harm of drugs. Centre organizes seminars for parents and explains what danger there children can face and how parents should act in different situations. These courses are getting very popular among parents.