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Open university studies to reduce the pressure put on the matriculation examination as the basis for student selections

Universities will soon select their students based on matriculation examination results. This will increase students’ pressure to perform well in the examination. The Alternative Path to University (Toinen reitti yliopistoon, TRY) project of eleven Finnish universities aims to reduce this pressure by creating alternative routes to degree studies. The development work starts officially with an initial project seminar at the University of Helsinki on Thursday, 1 November 2018.

By 2020, universities will select their students principally based on matriculation examination grades. Renewed entrance examinations will be used in some fields, but selection based on school certificates will be the main route to university. Are the three years spent at general upper secondary school thus a waste of time if the result is a mediocre matriculation examination certificate that prevents entry to university?

 “Everyone needs a second chance. It can’t be so that success in the matriculation exam largely defines one’s adult life. So many things happen in students’ lives during upper secondary school that the matriculation examination is not always the focus of their attention: it’s the time when young people create identities, search for a suitable career and learn study skills. In addition to raising one’s matriculation examination grades, there should be other ways to compensate for performance in the examination,” says Project Manager Paula Savela from the TRY project.

Nearly a hundred project participants and representatives of different interest groups will meet on Thursday, 1 November at the initial seminar of the TRY project at the University of Helsinki. In addition to universities, the seminar includes participants from the Ministry of Education and Culture and such interest groups as Universities Finland UNIFI, the Finnish School Counsellors’ Association SOPO, and the Union of Upper Secondary School Students in Finland.

Universities as student selection reformers

One of the inspirations for the TRY project is Chancellor Emeritus Kari Raivio, who will give a speech at the seminar. The project idea is based on an opinion piece Raivio published in Helsingin Sanomat in August 2017. Raivio stated in his writing that the open university route “should be wide open” to enable the admission of motivated and capable students. The paths created in the project are thus based on open university studies: students would meet university admission criteria by completing an agreed amount of credits at the open university. In addition, these studies should be completed successfully in order to be eligible for the application process.

 “Besides the new opportunity provided for students, it is also beneficial for universities to receive the most suitable applicants through these alternative routes. Faculties carry out student selections, so the project can succeed only if faculties integrate these new models into their practices,” Raivio states.

Student selections are being renewed in the TRY project by universities themselves, which also requires an open mind in order to see things differently. Film Director Klaus Härö, a professional of multidisciplinary project work, will give the final speech of the seminar on how to turn an idea into a project and complete it.

 “Coming from outside of the university world, one has a chance to bring new perspectives to project work,” Härö says. “The joys and challenges of cooperation, as well as creativity under performance pressures, are present in every profession when new things are created.”


The Alternative Path to University (TRY) higher education development project is financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It includes 11 Finnish universities and about 30 disciplines. The aim is to develop and pilot alternative routes to university degree studies. The initial project seminar takes place on Thursday, 1 November 2018 in the Porthania building of the University of Helsinki. Please see the seminar programme at

More information

Paula Savela

Project Manager

Open University of the University of Jyväskylä

050 428 5293