Credit transfers for studies completed abroad made easier at Metropolia
In January 2023, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences introduced an electronic system among the first Finnish higher education institutions to facilitate and simplify the recognition of studies completed elsewhere. One of the main objectives of the reform is to streamline the student's everyday life.
Student exchanges are memorable experiences for many students. Once the trip is over and everyday life at the home institution begins, studies completed abroad must be recognised. Up until now, entering study attainments in the register of one's own educational institution has been such a laborious step for the student that it has frustrated many people.
In the current situation, credit transfer has been largely determined by how the studies have been registered at the target institution and how this information has been distributed to exchange students. Together with the supervisor responsible for credit transfers in the degree programme or department, the matter has been investigated by means of various applications, documents and attachments.
– I'm sure the situation has been very frustrating for the student. The majority of the applications are returned to the student due to incomplete information. Another option is that the study counsellor finds the missing information themselves. In any case, it takes a lot of time, and the model based on attachments doesn't really work in the digital age, says Metropolia's Study Counsellor Mari Rupponen.
Photo: Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
Easier and safer data transfer
Metropolia uses the EMREX service, which enables the sharing of study data in an electronic, machine-readable format between different higher education institutions regardless of which country the educational institution is located in. The service makes life easier for those involved in the credit transfer process when they return to their own higher education institution.
In practice, for example, the study attainment data of Finnish higher education students is collected from educational institutions into a centralised data repository called Virta. Through EMREX, Virta is connected to educational institutions that are part of the network around the world. In this way, the attainment data of both foreign students studying at a Finnish higher education institution and students who have started an exchange from Finland are transferred via EMREX to the home institution.
Students do not need to take action to use the service. Instructions for the recognition of studies are specific to each educational institution.
The service provides students with more security, as it is a service based on the management of their own data. This means that the student controls their own data, and they can choose which attainment data they want to share with different actors.
– EMREX will definitely improve students' experience of credit transfers and transfer of attainment data. Data transmitted by the service is more likely to be correct and reliable when it moves directly between systems, without intermediaries. The processing and recording of data in the student register will also be speeded up as higher education institutions receive the data directly in a machine-readable format, says Project Manager Tapio Ekholm from Metropolia.
The wider use of EMREX enables people to better manage, use and disclose information about themselves. At the same time, it supports the European objective of developing digital services by facilitating and automating data transfer between countries.
Metropolia's study attainment data transfers electronically across country boundaries
Among the first Finnish higher education institutions, Metropolia has introduced an electronic service based on the EMREX system for the recognition of studies completed elsewhere.
The study information system Peppi is now connected to the EMREX system, and it enables the sharing of study attainment data in an electronic, machine-readable format. This way, studies completed elsewhere can be made part of the degree without manual work phases.
The service makes the process of recognition of studies easier, particularly when the student returns from the exchange to Finland or to their home institution abroad.
The reform will significantly reduce the time spent on the process by educational institutions and students. At the same time, the reliability of mobile data is improved as data is transferred from one system to another without intermediaries.
Higher education institutions are only responsible for the implementation of the updated Peppi system and for instructing the users of the system.
A smoother credit transfer process with EMREX also attracts interest outside the higher education sector. The Studying in another Nordic country and the Baltic countries project co-ordinated by the Finnish National Agency for Education wants to increase awareness of Metropolia's good practice. The project works in close cooperation with the Digital and Population Data Services Agency and the Cross-Border Digital Services programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Nordic countries at the forefront of European digitalisation
The Nordic Council of Ministers wants public digital services in the Nordic and Baltic countries to be among the best in the world. The region will lead European digital development with its own example. The aim of the Council of Ministers' work is to establish the Nordic countries' position as the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.
The Council of Ministers' key strategic initiative, the Cross Border Digital Services (CBDS) programme, promotes the interoperability of cross-border digital services through a number of projects. The Nordic countries, the autonomous regions of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Åland Islands as well as the Baltic countries are involved. The work is based on common European reforms such as the regulation on the single digital gateway (SDG), the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), the principle of single sign-on of official data (SSO) and the common European identification and authorisation system (eIDAS).
One of the implementations of the CBDS programme is the Studying in another Nordic country or the Baltic region project led by the Finnish National Agency for Education. The project works in close co-operation with agencies, ministries and other actors promoting digitalisation. The project has identified good practices. The most recent one is the reform of the fully electronic credit transfer process introduced at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The smoother study recognition process through EMREX supports the broader European goal of developing digital services by facilitating and automating data transfer between countries.
The Nordic Council of Ministers is responsible for the funding and political steering of the project. Among other things, the Council of Ministers forms an overall picture of the level of European digitalisation by mapping architecture solutions that facilitate international tourism, studying, working and business in the region. It presents best practices to national authorities and encourages them to make use of them.