The Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics (JSBE) and the Open University have developed a new admission route to study business and economics at JYU. In total 50 students are admitted to degree education through the Open University every year. The renewal is part of the Alternative Path to University project (2018–2020), which is developing admission routes that are based on prior studies and that complement certificate admission and entrance examinations.

The Alternative Path to University (TRY) project is a higher education development project of 11 universities and is coordinated by the Open University of the University of Jyväskylä. JSBE is one of the JYU units participating in the project, and the Open University has been one of its admission routes before as well. The purpose of the current renewal is to make Open University studies a viable route to degree studies for those who are not eligible to apply or would not be selected in a certificate admission or an entrance examination.

JSBE and the Open University started to cooperate on development of the admission path in autumn 2018. New admission criteria will be finalised during the summer 2019, so in practice it will be possible to pursue studies through the alternative path already in the academic year 2019–2020.

“The path to study business and economics at the University of Jyväskylä will be available in the joint admission of spring 2020,” says Satu Vuori, a programme manager working in the TRY project at the Open University. “The number of credits in the path will be specified soon, but the idea is that a student who wants to be admitted to the University can complete the path’s studies during one academic year.”

Satu Vuori and Piia Leppämäki

Satu Vuori and Piia Leppämäki

Business and economics are one of the most popular study options at the University of Jyväskylä, so the purpose of the Open University path is not to attract more applicants. Instead, for many this type of study path is more suitable than retaking the matriculation examination or studying for entrance examinations. During the year of studies they can show their abilities. The time and place of Open University studies are also flexible, so it is possible to pursue studies while working.

“Student admission that is based on prior studies helps smooth the transition from the upper secondary level to university,” Piia Leppämäki summarises. Leppämäki is a university teacher of management and leadership and a TRY developer from the Open University.

The path studies are university studies, so they are recognised as part of a degree at the University of Jyväskylä. The vice dean of JSBE, Professor Anna-Maija Lämsä says that the path is an opportunity for people other than new secondary school graduates to be admitted to study business and economics, and this also supports lifelong learning.

“JSBE wants to try new ideas and be at the forefront of development in education,” says Lämsä. “Through the Open University path the faculty can get motivated students who are already familiar with the field of study, which may also enhance JSBE’s performance.”

“Student admission that is based on prior studies helps smooth the transition from the upper secondary level to university.”

Lämsä, Leppämäki and Vuori find the piloting of a new kind of admission path important for the whole university. Sharing experiences with others about the benefits and challenges of this type of admission is helpful.

“We aim to make this a permanent admission method to degree education,” Vuori says. “The path to study business and economics will serve the University of Jyväskylä as a great internal model that helps to implement the Open University path also in other faculties.”

Professor Anna-Maija Lämsä, emphasises that the relationship between JSBE and the Open University has been good already before the TRY project:

“The cooperation between JSBE and the Open University has a long and praiseworthy history. The Alternative Path to University project adds to this continuum and makes our connection even closer.”

Piia Leppämäki also finds the cooperation productive. Fluent cooperation has enabled a multifaceted development process for the Open University path to degree studies in business and economics. In addition to administrative matters such as the numbers of credits and admission criteria, the student perspective has also been considered.

“It is important that students from the path integrate with other degree students, because in principle they join the group after the first year of studies,” Leppämäki says. “The Open University path must also work from the perspective of student experience.”

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