This week, all 24 Finnish universities of applied sciences start to extensively apply online and distance learning practices to minimise the chances of corona infection. At the same time, the universities’ personnel start to carry out their duties mainly remotely. The purpose is to ensure the continuity of higher education as the epidemic expands. The changes concern all of Finland’s 145,000 university of applied sciences students.

"The Finnish government announced on Monday nationwide school closures in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The universities of applied science anticipated this decision by starting preparations to increase distance learning already during the weekend," writes a statement by Petri Lempinen, executive director of the Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences Arene

Online and disctance teaching practices are applied to provide students with the opportunity to continue their studies uninterruptedly regardless of the coronavirus situation. Responsible higher education institutions secure their operation even under exceptional circumstances.

Lectures will be held online, but for the time being, most universities of applied sciences strive to keep laboratories and simulation facilities open to students. As such, the required instruction in practical skills cannot be provided online or remotely. Practical instruction will take place in small groups so that close contact is avoided.

Universities of applied sciences started to prepare for extending online instruction and interrupting contact teaching at the end of last week. Successful application of remote teaching methods requires solid support of online pedagogy experts and IT service providers to teachers.

Rectors of universities of applied sciences, vice-rectors responsible for education activities, presidents and IT management collaborate closely to enable the required changes.

As nearly 60 per cent of university of applied sciences students are employed, the higher education institutions’ operation must also comply with guidelines provided by employers. Due to the coronavirus situation, Finnish workplaces are starting to apply remote working practices extensively.