Open University of Applied Sciences makes studies accessible to everyone

Open UAS studies were hugely popular at Xamk in 2019 in terms of the number of students and credits earned. The extensive range of study opportunities available and flexible ways of studying provide everyone with the opportunity to update and expand their know-how. In addition, online courses reach completely new groups of people, including international students.

The results of Open UAS education are evaluated on the basis of the credits earnedIn 2019, Xamk’s objective was to increase the number of credits earned at the Open UAS by 20 per cent. The actual increase was 65 per cent. In addition, the figure was twice as high compared with the second-ranking institution. The percentage of credits earned at Xamk Open UAS of the total number of credits earned at Finnish Open UASs also increased.  

What particularly contributed to the increase in the number of students in 2019 was Xamk’s investment in marketing and communicating about the study opportunities at the Open UAS, both regionally, nationally and internationally. In addition to Xamk’s local region, the Open UAS attracted students from dozens of other countries.  

(In 2019, 15.5 per cent of the credits earned at Finnish open universities of applied sciences were earned at Xamk. In 2018, the corresponding figure was 11.8 per cent. The number of Open UAS students increased by 74 per cent in a year, amounting to as many as 8,954 in 2019.) 

Open UAS responds to the need for skilled professionals

The success of Xamk Open UAS is guaranteed by curricula that respond to future needs. Efficiently and flexibly, we train professionals who meet the needs of employers and society. An example of this are the Diplomas of Higher Education composed of the content of different fields of study.  

At the time of writing this text, spring 2020, we have just introduced a new Diploma of Higher Education, Crisis and exceptional circumstancemanagement, to respond to the current need.  

All studies completed at the Open UAS are also eligible for credit transfer in degree programmes. 

Online studies reach new groups of students

Today, people increasingly often want to study independent of time and place. This phenomenon has guided the development of online studies and pedagogy of online learning at Xamk. Consequently, the education provided through the Open UAS comprises an extensive multidisciplinary range of online studies. 

One of the goals of continuous learning is to reduce inequality in society and make higher education accessible to everyone. The content of education should be made suitable for people in different situations in life. The opportunity for online studies also helps to reach groups whose participation in conventional continuous learning-based education is low.

International Open UAS online studies

The latest addition is education provided in English and Russian, launched in 2019. In this way, we serve the people in our region and throughout Finland whose first language is not Finnish, providing them with access to UAS studies.  

For international students, online courses in English and Russian are also a path to degree programmes at Finnish universities of applied sciences. We hope that the course selection promotes domestic internationalisation in our region. The objective is that, in the future, the Open UAS will have an increasingly strong international impact, in addition to regional impact.  

Rapid growth of volume is challenging

The rapid growth of Xamk Open UAS challenges the processes and the services provided. The number of students, courses and credits earned have doubled over the last two years. In 2019, the number of continuous-learning students (including students in continuing education) surpassed the number of degree students at Xamk.  

Because of the rapid growth, there is no time for the operating models to become established, and the prediction of development is difficult. We have faced problems that we did not have time to prepare for. The services provided cannot be kept up to date with the increasing number of students. Previously, we provided support services for a smaller number of customers. 

Xamk must consider different service provision models for continuous learning: how should we provide education and services, and who should provide them? It is time to establish and clarify the processes. 

Demand for continuing education and open UAS education

The success of commercially provided continuing education is measured by turnoverIn 2019, net sales from continuing education amounted to approximately EUR 400,000, but the target was not achieved.  

Our tasks include, among others, responding rapidly to educational needs in the region, planning tailored education for companies in co-operation with them and anticipating the need for continuing education. We carry out this work continuously, but additional investment could help.  

At Xamk, the development of continuous learning studies has focused on the Open UAS, aiming for an increase in Open UAS activities. In addition, there is a growing pressure to increase continuing education. The keys to successful continuous learning programmes include anticipation, co-operation with the world of work and the ability to respond quickly.

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