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Bilingual Degree Programme in Nursing responds to shortage of registered nurses

Published on 23.6.2021
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Sairaanhoitajaopiskelijat harjoittelevat hoitamalla nukkea.
Nursing students practise taking care of mannequins. Photo: Heimo Films
Finland will need approximately 30,000 new registered nurses this decade. High language requirements have however prevented many applicants from entering the field. In order to respond to the challenge, a pilot programme has been developed in Tampere and Helsinki. In it, nursing students learn the Finnish language from the basics.

The purpose of the TOKASA project is to create a functioning and permanent degree education model in which language teaching is integrated into substance studies. Thanks to the education model, graduates can be employed in Finland as they have the language skills required for the profession. The languages of instruction are English and Finnish/Swedish.

“Finland cannot afford losing any professionals. It would be important that immigrants found employment and stayed here. The objective is that 75% of the immigrant nursing graduates stay in Finland,” says Anne Mäenpää who is in charge of TAMK’s Degree Programme in Nursing.

Finnish language teaching is integrated in all parts of the programme

There are no starting-level Finnish language requirements in the piloted Degree Programme in Nursing but Finnish language teaching is invested a lot during the programme. The studies include 2023 credits of Finnish for foreigners studies. In addition, the Finnish for foreigners studies are integrated into all teaching: theory, orientation studies, simulations and supervised clinical trainings. Students need to have a minimum of B2 English language skills.

Students’ Finnish language skills are assessed regularly and the Finnish for foreigners teacher is an integrated part of the programme. The teacher also makes a personal Finnish language study plan with each student.

The project will create a cooperation model with the participating working life partners. About a third of the nursing studies consist of supervised clinical trainings in different health care units. 

Government programme in the background

The pilot Degree Programme in Nursing will be led by Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. A number of other universities of applied sciences have also joined the project.

The first students will begin their nursing studies in the programme in January 2022. Both TAMK and Metropolia will take 14 students. Application takes place in the joint application of autumn and there is a separate entrance examination for the programme. 

The four-year TOKASA project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment as a part of the Talent Boost programme. The programme is based on the government programme which aims at significantly increasing work- and education-related immigration and educating and employing immigrants who already live in Finland. Teachers and working life representatives are also offered language and cultural awareness education. 

Further information on the project’s website: