Vocational teacher education

Department of vocational teacher education in Oulu is responsible for the pedagogical education of vocational teachers for institutes and universities of applied sciences as well as for other respective school forms. Multiform studies and courses offered even in summer time are designed to meet the needs of adult students. They may choose full time studies on the fast track or flexible part-time studies along with their work.

The School of Vocational Teacher Education in Oulu is the northernmost of Finland's five vocational teacher education institutes. It has expanded rapidly and is growing still. Including in-service teacher education the number of registered students is over 700. The school is profiled to meet the needs of northern Finland.

The school premises are situated in the city centre. The address is:

School of Vocational Teacher Education
Uusikatu 2
FI-90100 OULU
Tel + 358 20 611 0220
Fax +358 10 272 1200


The director of the school:

Mr Asko Karjalainen, PhD

Departmental ECTS co-ordinator

Mr Esa Virkkula, M.A.

The scope of pedagogical studies is 60 ECTS credits. The school grants a teacher's diploma for working in vocational schools, universities of applied sciences, adult education centres, liberal adult education units and upper secondary schools as well as in comprehensive schools.

A general entrance requirement is a higher academic degree or the highest vocational degree in the subject and a three-year work experience in the respective field. The application period is January.

In Finland, the teacher’s profession is a regulated profession. The eligibility requirements for the different kinds of teaching posts are stated in a decree on the eligibility requirements for personnel in the teaching profession (986/1998). Holders of foreign qualifications seeking to work as teachers or applying for teacher education in Finland need to apply for a decision of recognition from The National Board of Education. Further information from the website of the Finnish National Board of Eduction.

Studying in the School of Vocational Teacher Education is flexible and multiform. The teacher students choose the contents of their curriculum from an open "tray", i.e. they design their personal curricula themselves. The duration of the studies varies from the fast track of about 9 months to 3 years.

The school has been praised for its multidisciplinary studies. Engineers, musicians, nurses and economists all study the basic teaching skills together. It offers a good starting point e.g. for teachers' interaction with each other now and in the future.

The strengths of the school are future awareness, versatile communication skills as well as understanding group dynamics and different learners. Current themes range from on-the-job learning, and skills evaluation to ICT in teaching and learning.

In addition to the basic teacher education programme, the school offers post-graduate programmes for study councellor education and vocational special needs teacher education (in Finnish).

The school has shared responsibility for the pedagogical education of music and dance teacher students with the School of Media and Performing Arts of Oulu University of Applied Sciences. The school also offers teachers in-service education and training for specialists of competence-based qualifications.

Special Facilities and Equipment

The school premises include classrooms with computers for the students, multimedia studio, workrooms for the director and the teachers and the office rooms. There is also a student restaurant in the school.

Structure and Organisation

The School of Vocational Teacher Education is part of Oulu University of Applied Sciences. Its schools or units have their own directors. The University of Applied Sciences has one leading rector.

In addition to the director, the staff of the School of Vocational Teacher Education consists of 10 principal lecturers, 5 senior lecturers, 4 lecturers and a five-person staff at the office in Oulu and a senior lecturer in the City of Rovaniemi.

The Conception of a Teacher's Work as the Starting Point of Studies

The aim of the vocational teacher education is to offer the student teachers 1) basic knowledge and skills in general educational science or in adult educational science, 2) knowledge and skills in vocational pedagogy and disciplinary didactics, 3) teaching practice and 4) optional studies.

The purpose of the education is to increase the ability of the student teachers to guide and organise the learning and teaching of different students and groups as well as to develop, in co-operation with working life representatives, the future teachers' core skills. The purpose is also to remind the student teachers to keep their own vocational mastery up-to-date to make it serve teaching.

Since teachers are also developers of society, they must endeavour to understand their actions in a broader social frame of reference. In addition to pedagogics and didactics, fields of knowledge such as sociology, social psychology and history will gain in significance in teachers' work.

A key role in the process of education is played by teachers who are active in daily practices. Teachers should possess the ability to analyse their own ideas of a teacher's work and the capacity to be aware of the grounds for the decisions they make. Reflective skills constitute a part of a teacher's professional growth, which will start during the teacher education. It is based on good theoretical competence, but also requires putting one's own persona at stake and the ability to question one's own ideas and solutions as well as to evaluate them.

Credit System, Study and Teaching Methods and Assessment

The Finnish credit system has been updated to comply with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Courses and study modules are credited according to the amount of work they require to attain the required objectives. A student's average study effort of 1,600 hours required for the completion of studies during one academic year corresponds to 60 credits.

A typical learning unit (3 ECTS credits) is composed of two days of contact hours (16 h) and assignments. Besides lectures and seminars, group discussions and dialogue are stressed in contact teaching. The practical teaching training takes place towards the end of education mainly in the schools in Northern Finland.

The assignments vary according to the subject and range from essays, reports and learning journals to posters, Web discussions and ICT learning in general. The students compile their portfolios of acquired knowledge and skills. They design, carry out and report pedagogical innovation task in the framework of educational research or they alternatively choose optional courses.

The pedagogical studies are assessed pass/fail with a written feedback. The teaching practice is assessed with a written description of the student teacher's various skills and abilities.

The assessment of the compulsory courses and pedagogical innovation task is numeric in the following scale:

Finnish grades (ECTS grades)
5 excellent (A)
4 very good (B)
3 good (C)
2 satisfactory (D)
1 sufficient (E)
0 fail (F or FX)

The optional courses are assessed pass/fail with a written feedback. The teaching practice is assessed with a written description of the student teacher's various skills and abilities.

Description of Studies

The studies are compiled and based on a dynamic view of vocational education, i.e. it tries to take challenges and meet the topical needs. Its aim is to promote the development of a beginning teacher towards pedagogical expertise.

The core areas of the vocational teacher's expertise are divided into 1) Common pedagogical studies in vocational education, 2) Educational science 3) Teaching practice and 4) Optional studies. Studies in 1-3 are compulsory, for optional studies there is a wide range of courses to choose between.

The scope of the courses vary from the minimum of 3 ECTS credits to 11 ECTS credits.

The School of Vocational Teacher education does not offer degree-awarding education. You can complete the pedagogical studies of 60 ECTS credits. For more details see the Studies page from the website of School of Vocational Teacher Education.

International Co-operation

The school of Vocational Teacher Education follows international educational research and development in vocational field by participating in and contributing to international congresses and making excursions to vocational schools and teacher education institutes in different countries.