This section draws mainly on input from Kartunen, A. (2019) European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018 update: Finland
Validation of non-formal and informal learning has relatively long and established roots in Finland and the legislation and policies are well developed and detailed. As in many other countries, there is no single law on validation of non-formal and informal learning; laws and regulations for each field of education define validation separately. These fields include general upper secondary education, vocational education and training and higher education.
Validation has not been widely used in general upper secondary education. A new Act on general upper secondary education ( Law 714/2018 on general upper secondary education (in Finnish and Swedish): https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2018/20180714) appears to strengthen the potential of validation in this sector. First, general upper secondary education will start using credit points, which facilitates recognition of prior learning. Second, it is proposed that practices for identifying and recognising competence acquired elsewhere before and during general upper secondary studies would be improved. The law was implemented in August 2019.
In other sectors (VET and HE) validation arrangements are in place and typically cover the four validation stages: identification, documentation, assessment and certification. VET qualifications are modular, and qualification units are awarded in increasing numbers. In VET – both initial (IVET) and continuing (CVET) – there are national standards (qualification requirements) and validation arrangements are well defined in laws and policies. The VET sector has applied a competence-based approach since 1994 and the qualification requirements are defined in terms of learning outcomes.
The Universities of applied sciences Act (932/2014, §37) (Ammattikorkeakoululaki) and the Universities Act (558/2009, §44) (Yliopistolaki) state that a student may – in accordance with the decision of the higher education institution – have his/her prior studies accredited when studying for a degree or specialisation studies. A student may also have prior non-formal or informal learning, demonstrated in some other manner, substituted for studies belonging to a degree or specialisation study syllabus or counted towards a degree or specialisation studies.
Validation arrangements in higher education are relatively young in comparison with the VET sector. However, most of the curricula are described in terms of learning outcomes, the validation methodologies are continuously developing, and validation is increasing in popularity as it is relatively well known among students. New initiatives and projects promoting and developing validation arrangements are carried out in different areas of higher education; for example, SIMHE services ( SIMHE services: https://www.oph.fi/en/simhe-services-higher-education-institutions) that aim to support immigrants in higher education. The members of SIMHE services include several Finnish HEIs, with coordination by EDUFI. The services aim to enhance the identification and recognition of prior learning of highly educated immigrants of different statuses and make it easier to direct immigrants to higher education at national and regional levels. Also, in 2019 a report on recognising prior learning in higher education ( Link to the report (in Finnish): https://bit.ly/3jZ1Izo ) was published by the Ministry of Education and Culture; it is based on data from different sources and workshops organised together with diverse stakeholders.
The Ministry of Education and Culture set up a working group in February 2019 to examine and consider the use of competence-based descriptions in liberal adult education, to propose a model for such descriptions and to propose a common unit describing the extent of such education ( Link to the report (in Finnish): http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-263-695-9). As a further step, the working group proposes that the legislation on the Koski database ( The KOSKI national database introduced in 2018, collects real-time comprehensive data on education to serve both the needs of citizens and different administrative branches. The data are collected from various sources: https://www.oph.fi/fi/palvelut/koski-tietovaranto (in Finnish and Swedish)) be amended so that the skills and knowledge gained in liberal adult education could be transferred to this repository, starting in August 2021. The group also proposes a reference framework for describing skills and knowledge in liberal adult education.
Labour market stakeholders have a central role in the Finnish validation system, especially in VET; and the VET qualifications system is built to serve the labour market and ensure hands-on participation in validation processes. However, there are few examples where labour market organisations would independently carry out validation activities in the full meaning of the process.
The national student feedback system and questionnaires are an important tool for monitoring the quality of vocational education and training (VET) from the customers' point of view. National feedback is gathered anonymously from students whose target is to complete a vocational qualification or modules of VET qualifications. The education and competence demonstration tests are organised in cooperation with the VET provider and working life.
In 2019/20, students and graduates reported that they were satisfied with being able to start their studies flexibly with a suitable schedule (grade 4.3 on a scale of 1-5), and that earlier studies, work experience and other knowledge and skills were scrutinised diversely (grade 4.1). Students reported that they received sufficient instruction and guidance to progress as planned (grade 4.2) and the work tasks in which they completed their demonstration corresponded to work tasks in real working life (grade 4.4). Based on the feedback, the teaching and guidance were of high quality (grade 4.3) and students received sufficient feedback on the development of their knowledge and skills (4.0). In general, students were satisfied with the education and training they had received (grade 4.38; 80% of respondents, both young and adult students).