Review by the vice-dean in charge of basic education

Two degree programmes, one continuum

A CONTINUUM OF TWO DEGREE PROGRAMMES

From the beginning of 2017, the Bachelor’s Programme and Degree Programme in Veterinary Medicine have had steering groups of their own. Operations of the steering group of the Bachelor’s Programme in Veterinary Medicine have been actively launched under the leadership of Professor Antti Iivanainen. A desire to promote the integration of studies and the perspective of research in studies in particular drove Iivanainen to apply for the position. At the turn of the year, University Lecturer Riikka Keto-Timonen will succeed me as director of the Degree Programme in Veterinary Medicine. Keto-Timonen has extensive experience in teaching duties, in addition to which she has, as a member of the degree programme steering group, led the project launched in spring 2017 for reforming the licentiate thesis. In accordance with the guidelines of the University of Helsinki, all faculties started employing a scale of 0 to 5 in the assessment of theses required for second-cycle degrees beginning on 1 August 2017. At the same time, the Faculty deemed it appropriate to update the instructions for writing such theses, including changes made to seminar practices.

The degree programme directors cooperate with each other, while the steering groups also hold joint meetings. On the University level, the degree programme directors convene monthly in the Leadership Forum to review joint matters.

BIG WHEEL KEEPS ON TURNING

Implementation of the Big Wheel educational reform of the University of Helsinki carried on, and a rector’s decision on guidelines for University of Helsinki studies and degrees, which entered into force in the summer, replaced prior standing orders on the faculty level. Practices have been standardised throughout the University, while the educational sector has gained – and is constantly gaining – new digital tools. Another matter in the spotlight has been the upcoming student admissions reform. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine continues cooperation with the medical fields in the student admissions process, but not through the joint application procedure. The entrance examination will remain joint for all, but applicants cannot apply simultaneously to education in veterinary medicine and medicine.

Feedback from professional life is increasingly important for the development of teaching. Aarresaari, a career services network for Finnish universities, conducts biennial career surveys for those who have graduated five years earlier. Licentiates of veterinary medicine also fall under the scope of this career monitoring. Next in line was a report on a survey conducted on those who graduated in 2011. Eric Carver, a career counsellor at the University of Helsinki, visited the meetings of both degree programme steering groups to present the survey results. Based on the survey, licentiates of veterinary medicine generally consider their work more demanding than their educational level. The broad range of the education provides opportunities in varying duties, but the need for lifelong learning is evident. Responding veterinarians felt that their studies developed theoretical expertise, as well as skills in information seeking, continued learning and analytical thinking fairly well, whereas the development of stress tolerance, self-guidance and initiative, as well as group working skills was insufficient.

DIGITAL LEAP

The digitalisation of learning environments is an important part of the University’s current strategy, with a digital leap in teaching among the concrete measures taken in its implementation. At the end of January, the University opened an application period for digital leap projects in bachelor’s degree programmes. In addition to a pioneering spirit, the desire for progress and training, as well as the commitment to a joint process were emphasised in the selections. The Bachelor’s Programme in Veterinary Medicine submitted its application in February and received €70,000 in funding from the University for ongoing and new projects.

As part of the digital leap project, an extensive student survey was conducted at the Faculty to find out how useful students felt various digital tools were for studying, which digital tools they use in support of their studies and what problems have occurred when using these tools. Students’ wishes were also collected. The decommissioning of the computer classroom in Building EE in the spring, as well as a decrease in the number of computers available for shared use by students were reflected in student responses.

The further development of several educational technology projects already ongoing in the Bachelor’s Programme for some time benefitted from the project funding. These projects include learning games in epidemiology and bacteriology, electronic tools for peer reviewing, virtual microscopy, as well as the scanning and 3D printing of bone models. The latest projects that have entered the digital leap scheme of the Bachelor’s Programme include a virtual visit to a laying hen house.

The second digital leap application round was held in the autumn, resulting in €50,000 in funding for the Degree Programme in Veterinary Medicine. The project led by Professor Outi Vapaavuori is focused on creating a virtual patient case bank and developing learning games.

OTHER EVENTS

In late August, the annual conference of the Association for Medical Education in Europe was held in Helsinki. Many teachers from the Faculty participated in the conference, some with poster presentations. The conference, organised under the theme The power to surprise!, provided a sizeable setting for updating skills, networking and discussing education from various perspectives.

The Faculty’s development day, held on 9 February 2017, focused on the redesigned standards of European veterinary education, since in less than two years, the Faculty will be audited based on these standards. Through collaboration, current strengths and development targets were outlined.

On 15 August 2017, altogether 45 teachers convened in a joint meeting for the Faculty’s teachers. The meeting’s agenda included the review of common rules for studies and teaching.

In early June, 47 new licentiate graduates were awarded their degree diploma in a graduation ceremony held in the Great Hall of the University. Altogether 69 licentiates graduated during the year. The quantitative goals for both bachelors and licentiates were exceeded to a certain extent also this year.

 

Mirja Ruohoniemi
Vice-dean in charge of basic education
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Helsinki