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Educational changes are made in the School of Business to meet future needs

A student project set a goal of identifying the most important future trends, the needs future business school graduates will have for skills and knowledge, and the best practices for the programme reform.
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Robert Savander (left), Ulla Vilkuna and Olga Mäkinen conducted the study.

The student project, known as Education 3.0 – Future trends in university education, was carried out to support the programme reform at the School of Business. Associate Dean Timo Saarinen, who is responsible for education at the School of Business, is leading the programme reform. Its goal is to develop the structure and content of the education. The study was conducted by a team of students, comprising Ulla Vilkuna of the Department of Economics, Robert Savander of the Department of Information and Service Management, and Olga Mäkinen, who is studying in the Creative Sustainability programme.

For the project, the students interviewed eight corporate representatives, four future researchers, two experts in education and university pedagogy, as well as four department directors and deans from the School of Business.

‘We interviewed a broad selection of representatives of both internal and external stakeholder groups in order to get a comprehensive picture of upcoming changes in work and society. As a result, the year 2035 became the time span for the study. It was interesting to see how the interviewees were inspired to think thoroughly about the topic and the whole. Surprising and even some quite radical ideas emerged’, the students said.

Future business school graduates – curious and networked with a deep understanding of technology and the ability to meet challenges

According to the report, technological and ecological megatrends will affect the expectations of business and industry in the future. Universities are expected to offer a versatile array of education that is not limited to degrees – it must also meet the needs of lifelong learning. In a time of rapid change, the focus of study needs to shift from studying individual facts to the learning of critical thinking. 

Future business school graduates will be expected have the capacity for multidisciplinary thinking, an understanding of the possibilities offered by technology, the creativity to solve multidimensional problems. Future business school graduates develop their skills and knowledge in many ways, both during their studies and after their completion. The corporate representatives that were interviewed hoped that after graduating, students would have solid substantial knowledge, which they can apply to different situations. In addition, business school graduates must be capable of working with experts from different fields and to solve societal challenges brought on by great megatrends that companies face. 

Research results benefit programme reform

The student team says that the implementation of the study was very interesting and multidimensional. 

‘When trends for the future and changes as well as needs for the skills and knowledge of a business school graduate are the topics, there are no correct or simple answers. The greatest challenges involved analysing the substantial and varied material and to draw conclusions. It will be 5-10 years before the impact of changes to the university education curriculum will be seen more extensively’, the students point out.

According to student team’s supervisor Päivi Kinnunen, pedagogical expert at the School of Business, the student team did excellent work. The students collected a diverse set of material and produced a report in which the results are presented in a form that enables their utilisation in the background of the programme reform. The results show, among other things, scenarios for the future, in which the challenging field of operations of a university of the future are visualised. In addition, the report reveals proposals for practical procedures, for instance ways in which changes in teaching and study culture can be supported also at the course level.

‘I find it especially valuable in this report that students themselves have been producing and analyzing the material for supporting the programme reform’, comments Associate Dean Timo Saarinen.

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