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Marko Laitinen: The reform of police degree education in Finland and its effects on police competencies

Tampere University
LocationRemote connection
Date18.12.2020 10.00–14.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Marko Laitinen
The doctoral dissertation study of Marko Laitinen examines the reform of police degree education implemented in Finland at the beginning of 2014 as a result of the creation of a common European higher education area in accordance with the Bologna Process.

The purpose of the study was to assess how the work-based goals set for the development of police competencies and the pan-European Bologna process principles emphasizing expertise have been able to connect and implement in the context of the Finnish police degree reform. Further, the study examines how the transition from the previous police diploma degree into a Bachelor degree, partially motivated by the Bologna process, actually influenced the professional competences of the graduates.

The research data consists of interviews of police managerial staff conducted in 2010, of the final report the police degree reform project group from 2012 and of surveys among the staff of Police University College and police units, conducted in December 2019. Phenomenographical analysis of the interviews, content analysis of the project report and Pearson (r) correlation test and nonparametric statistical test (Kruskal- Wallis) of the survey data were selected for analysis methodologies of research data.

The results indicate that the police competence development goals set for the degree reform correspond well with police managers’ views on the professional competencies required in police work and with their priorities. Managers’ views on the professional competence requirements for policing emphasize scientific competence and analytical thinking capability, information management competence, internationalization skills required for the diversification and internationalization of the society, customer service skills and sector specific technical and tactical policing competencies.

In the context of police education reform assurance of police professional competences, improved research, development and innovation skills, improved internationalization competences and improved language and communication skills are manifested as key objectives.

The level of generic competencies of police graduates as a whole has risen as a result of the degree reform. The rise of competence levels is seen in every general competency sector but most visibly in information systems use, RDI skills, international competences and oral and written English language skills. However, the reform has not had a corresponding positive effect on the level of professional competences of graduating students. As a whole the level of expertise in the area of crime prevention has slightly risen, mostly in areas of recording criminal reports and of recognition of essential elements of crimes.

Also the level of expertise in the area of patrol and emergency services has slightly risen, mostly in the areas of notification of criminal claims and knowledge level concerning regulations on the use of force. The competence level in all areas of traffic control, on the other hand, has declined, most clearly in the area of inspecting vehicle loadings and vehicle combinations. Similarly, the skills level in safe driving of police vehicles has clearly declined, too.

As a conclusion, it is noted that the reform of police degree education, implemented in the spirit of the Bologna Process, was quite satisfactorily able to combine and develop the key areas related to expertise emphasized by the Bologna process. The goals of the degree reform correspond well with the police-specific content development goals in accordance with the requirements of working life.

Despite parallel, compatible objectives the reform was however not able, from a police unit viewpoint, to optimally reach those targets which relate to the development of police specific professional competencies. In some areas the level of professional competences has even declined as a result of the degree reform. Factors contributing to this were not more accurately examined in this study.

The doctoral dissertation of M.A. (Education) Marko Laitinen titled Poliisikoulutuksen uusi paradigma - ammattilaisesta asiantuntijaksi: Poliisialan uusimuotoisen ammattikorkeakoulututkinnon työelämävastaavuus ja vaikutus tutkinnosta valmistuvien opiskelijoiden poliisiammatillisen osaamisen tasoon will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Education and Culture of Tampere University at 12 o'clock on Friday 18 December, 2020. Docent Valdemar Kallunki from National Defence University will be the opponent while Professor Emerita Anja Heikkinen will act as the custos.

Because of coronavirus situation the event can only be followed via remote connection

The dissertation is avalable online at