University of Oulu

Brauer, S. (2021), "Towards competence-oriented higher education: a systematic literature review of the different perspectives on successful exit profiles", Education + Training, Vol. 63 No. 9, pp. 1376-1390.

Towards competence-oriented higher education : a systematic literature review of the different perspectives on successful exit profiles

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Author: Brauer, Sanna1,2
Organizations: 1School of Professional Teacher Education, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Oulu, Finland
2Educational Technology Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-07


Purpose: The twenty-first century education system seeks to meet the societal demands of economic effectiveness and the unique professional development needs of individuals. This paper aims to discuss the qualities of competence-oriented educational processes and the recent movement towards competence-based curricula in higher education.

Design/methodology/approach: This study follows a systematic literature review (SLR) methodology to explore the concept of competence within the context of educational science. The subsequent thematic synthesis analyses the findings of reviewed publications regarding graduate attributes in competence-oriented higher education and their perspectives and working-life expectations on exit profiles.

Findings: Interest in competence-oriented education, training and learning has grown in recent years, resulting in numerous theoretical and technical pedagogical applications in higher education. Nonetheless, ambiguous terminology presents a significant challenge, which is demonstrated by the inconsistent language of the study’s results. Moreover, there is an obvious need for teachers’ in-service training. The qualitative synthesis of this article will be useful for both educational and working life sectors to inform and promote different perspectives on competence-oriented educational processes. A clear articulation of competences is crucial for reforming higher education to meet students’ interests and recognise their work-life needs.

Originality/value: The concept of competence has been under-investigated in higher education research and practices. This study offers novel insights and practical implications for competence-oriented learning concerning the paradigmatic change across higher education.

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Series: Education + training
ISSN: 0040-0912
ISSN-E: 1758-6127
ISSN-L: 0040-0912
Volume: 63
Issue: 9
Pages: 1376 - 1390
DOI: 10.1108/ET-07-2020-0216
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © Sanna Brauer. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the CreativeCommons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at