Finnish university- and polytechnic- (university of applied sciences) legislation obliges Higher Education Institutions to provide their students, on request, with an annex to their diploma for international use. The Finnish Ministry of Education has recommended that all institutions follow the Diploma Supplement model.
Vaasan ammattikorkeakoulu, University of Applied Sciences, has automatically annexed the graduates with a Diploma Supplement (DS) in English since year 2001. The Diploma Supplement will be issued free of charge to all graduates upon graduation. The DS is produced by national institutions according to a template that has been developed by a Joint European Commission - Council of Europe - UNESCO working party that tested and refined it.
The Diploma Supplement is a document attached to a higher education diploma providing a standardised description of the nature, level, context, content and status of the studies that were pursued and successfully completed by the graduate. The Diploma Supplement provides transparency and facilitates academic and professional recognition of qualifications (diplomas, degrees, certificates etc.). It should be free from any value-judgements, equivalence statements or suggestions about recognition. It is a flexible non-prescriptive tool, which is designed to save time, money and workload. It is capable of adaptation to local needs.
The diploma supplement is needed because new qualifications proliferate worldwide and countries are constantly changing their qualification systems and educational structures under the impact of rapid economic, political and technological change. An increasing number of mobile citizens are seeking the fair recognition of their qualifications. The non-recognition and poor-evaluation of qualifications is now a global problem. Since original credentials alone do not provide sufficient information, it is very difficult to gauge the level and function of a qualification without detailed appropriate explanation.
The DS is composed of eight sections (information identifying the holder of the qualification, information identifying the qualification, information on the level of the qualification, information on the contents and results gained, information on the function of the qualification, additional information, certification of the Supplement, information on the national higher education system). Information in all eight sections should be provided.
A Diploma Supplement label will be awarded to institutions which deliver a Diploma Supplement to all graduates in all first and second cycle degree programmes in accordance with the structure and recommendations found on the Europa website of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/education/tools/diploma-supplement_en.htm
Examples of Diploma Supplement issued at Vaasan ammattikorkeakoulu VAMK, University of Applied Sciences:
Benefits of a Diploma Supplement to the Students
- A diploma that is more readable and easily comparable abroad.
- A precise description of their academic curriculum and on the competencies acquired during the study period.
- Objectivity and a fair judgement of their achievements and competencies
- An easier access to opportunities of work or further studies abroad
- It fosters their employability (employers are more and more interested by the student profile that is provided for in the DS).
Benefits of a Diploma Supplement to Higher Education Institutions
- It facilitates academic and professional recognition, thus increasing the transparency of qualifications.
- It protects national/institutional autonomy while offering a common frame, which is accepted all over Europe.
- It promotes informed judgements about qualifications that can be understood in another educational context.
- It raises the visibility of the institution abroad.
- It promotes the employability of their graduates at national and international level.
- It helps saving time since it provides the answers to a lot of recurrent questions put to administrative services in institutions about the content and portability of diplomas.