In December 2020, a great effort was brought to conclusion when the board approved new study plans for each degree programme at Arcada. Competence and sustainability are the key themes for the new study plans, which are designed to prepare today’s student for a rapidly evolving career.
Unlike previous study plans, these plans are based on modules and competences. Carl-Johan Rosenbröijer, Vice Rector responsible for degree education, has headed the development work since it began in the autumn of 2019 and explains what the new study plans will signify.
– We focus on competences in a wider sense, that is, on the module level. This way we can identify and credit previous competence more smoothly. The new plans are also designed to support the students’ ability to describe his or her competences and what concrete skills they bring to the job market. All competencies include the three dimensions of knowledge, skills and approach, says Rosenbröijer.
It is important to be able to communicate personal competencies from the first day of studies and to connect them with different practical situations at work.
The department heads, amanuenses and degree programme directors have played a key role in developing the new study plans. Annikki Arola, Degree Programme Director for Occupational Therapy, has been deeply involved with the practical questions.
– The new study plans are based on the skills needed in the job market. Our previous focus was on individual courses, but students didn’t necessarily see how the courses fit together. The new plans provide for a greater choice and we can build modules that support the competencies of the students. This is not about course 1, 2 and 3, but about the actual competencies of the student. It is important to be able to communicate personal competencies from the first day of studies and to connect them with different practical situations at work, says Arola.
One aim was to make the plans more streamlined than before, to make it easier for the entire organisation to work on a common Arcada level and make interdisciplinary work smoother. The development work was based on a common model that has made the process less complicated for the programme directors.
It will be easier for the students to make a choice based on questions such as “What do I really want? What really interests me?”
– We employed a clear structure for our working aim, to define knowledge and skills. The plans provide an entirely different way of comparing the various educational options offered by Arcada. It will be easier for the students to make a choice based on questions such as “What do I really want? What really interests me?”, Arola says.
Arcada’s new strategy, to be implemented from 2021, was part of the reason for the development work. Implementing the new strategy required the development of new study plans.
– The connection between Arcada’s new strategy and the new study plans is a key factor. The only way of implementing the strategy is in the operative domain and the education we provide implements the strategy through the study plans, Rosenbröijer says.
New profiling and sustainability
The work on the new study plans has also generated new profiling of the degree programmes.
– Our first task was to decide how to profile ourselves within our own field. The task helped us to continue with the process and today we stand out nationally with our programme in occupational therapy. We are the only institution in the country to use occupational science as a defining base for the entire study plan in our profession, says Arola.
– The work has also been important in developing and profiling our engineering programmes. We have chosen to make strategic efforts proceeding with two basic themes; sustainability, in materials and energy, and digitalisation. This is an obvious extension of the strategy of underscoring sustainability and smart solutions, says Rosenbröijer.
We also focus on human well-being and on coping with the huge transformation that both our careers and our society as a whole are subject to. We have a great responsibility to our students.
Sustainability is a common thread in the study plans. It is a broad concept, which today encompasses an ecological, an economic, a social and a cultural dimension, all of which are reflected in the new plans.
– Apart from sustainability, which concerns the environment, we also focus on human well-being and on coping with the huge transformation that both our careers and our society as a whole are subject to. We have a great responsibility to our students, says Rosenbröijer.
In this context, the interdisciplinary aspect is essential.
– We look at health and welfare, for instance, and aim to contribute to a sustainable life with the aid of AI and technology. At Arcada we have a great advantage in our different on-site professions and lab facilities, says Arola.
In the spring of 2021, we will continue with the implementation of the new study plans. A group of project leaders, consisting of the five department heads, the head of the Language department and the head of Student services, are in charge of the work. The plans will be introduced in the autumn of 2021 and remain in force for four years (2021–2024).