In 2012, there were 710 Bachelor or Master’s level graduates from the three art universities (University of Arts: Sibelius Academy, Theatre Academy, Academy of Fine Arts) and the Aalto University’s art and design studies. The number of graduates from the cultural and media programmes of the polytechnics (applied universities) grew from 420 in 1999 to 2 002 in 2012.
The Finnish art universities have adapted well to the grade and credit systems pre-supposed by the Bologna process. In the polytechnics, the majority of the professional degrees correspond to the bachelor-level university degree. Master’s level programmes and degrees have been offered in polytechnics since 2005. The first master’s level programme (Master of Culture and Arts) in arts management started in 2009. The polytechnic arts management higher education degree is aimed at professionals already working in the field, with a minimum of three years professional experience.
The art schools, polytechnics and art universities have been criticised for admitting too many students to their study programmes. Universities and polytechnics have had a relatively free reign to choose what programmes they will offer as the basis for government funding has been mainly the number of students. As arts and culture study programmes have been very popular with students, educational institutions have been reluctant to decrease education in the field. In the 2000s there has been an overflow of higher education graduates all over the country and thus an increasing number of unemployed persons in the field of culture and media. A large government polytechnic reform has been underway in Finland since 2011. The aim of the reform is to draft a government proposal for a new Polytechnics Act, which is to take force in 2015. In the reform the responsibility for polytechnic funding as a whole will be transferred to the government, and polytechnics will be made independent legal entities. The licence to provide polytechnic education will be revised and quality and impact will be emphasised. Also, financing of the institutions will be overhauled to better support current objectives, such as speedy transfer to the labour market. After the reform the government funding for polytechnics will be allocated in a ratio of 70:30 on the basis of the number of students and degrees awarded.
The idea is to grow the size of the educational units to increase competitiveness and to decrease the amount of students admitted especially in the fields of culture and media. In autumn 2013 the Ministry of Education and Culture presented its proposal on polytechnic admittance. The number of students to be admitted into programmes in the field of culture is 1352 in the ministry proposal. Compared to year 2011 (2118 admitted), the proposed number is 36% lower. Some programmes, for example drama studies (degree of drama instructor) in the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, were closed down.