Elina Lavikainen:
The Student Perspective on the University of Applied Sciences 2010
Study Paths, Quality of Education and Study Ability


The aim of this reasearch was to examine study circumstances in universities of applied sciences. The focus was on the students' study tracks, their views on the quality of education, their own ability to study, and methods of contribution. The research was carried out as a questionnaire aimed at students who had started their studies between the years 2004 and 2009. The target group included both young and adult students doing an undergraduate applied sciences degree (Batchelor's level), and postgraduate applied sciences degree students. 5 698 students filled in the questionnaire, and the response rate was 23 %.

For those participating in the youth education programme, the average transfer time from initial vocational or upper secondary education to present university of applied sciences studies was 2.3 years. The most common reasons for delay in the transfer time were work and uncertainty about the desired field of study. In most cases (72 %) the young students chose their field of study because they found it interesting. Adult and postgraduate students for the most part chose their field of study based on their work experience.

Students of applied sciences do on average 50 study credits per year (median). Postgraduate students do the least study credits (30), which is explained by the fact that they finish their degree while working. Those who feel their study abilities are strong, advance in their studies faster than those who find their study abilities weak, and they are also more satisfied with their study progress. The most common factors that slow down studies are weak study motivation (24 %), and working during the semester (22 %).

From the point of view of the students, the quality of education varies. The respondents were most satisfied with the contents of the study programmes, the proficiency of the teachers, and the available courses, whereas they were least satisfied with study guidance and the ability to do courses in other universities of applied sciences. According to the results of the survey, studies in a university of applied sciences provide the student with social and professional provisions – approximately 80% of the respondents had acquired both of these at least to some extent. 66 % had acquired critical and innovative provisions, and 60% had acquired international provisions. Adult and postgraduate students were for the most part more satisfied with the quality of the education than those participating in the youth education programmes.

The model for the capability to study in this research is comprised of six components: 1) the pedagogical study environment, 2) the administrative study environment and accessibility, 3) the social study environment, 4) the consideration of diversity, 5) study skills and 6) personal resources. The respondents felt the strongest factors of their ability to study to be their personal resources and their social study environment. The weakest factor to support their ability to study was the pedagogical study environment. Adult and postgraduate students were more confident about their own study abilities than the students in the youth education programme.

48 % of respondents were members of a students' union. Membership was considerably more common among those in the youth education programme (55 %) than adult (22 %) and postgraduate students (23 %). Most students found the students' union a good thing, because they found it important and active. The respondents found room for improvement in the union's transparency and ability to make concrete changes.

A majority (80 %) of the respondents has tried to influence matters at their university of applied sciences. The most common ways to influence were giving fedback and taking part in working life activities. However, only 14 % felt they have truly made a difference in their university of applied sciences. Members of a students' union more often feel they are able to make a difference than those who are not members.


For more information, please contact Ms Elina Lavikainen, elina.lavikainen[a]otus.fi