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J. Ojasalo

Laurea University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
The aim of this article is to increase the knowledge of challenges and solutions in developing a ‎master’s degree programme in security management. The existing literature includes very little ‎knowledge of developing higher education in security management, and particularly of the related ‎challenges and solutions. Clearly, it is needed to increase knowledge in this area.‎

The present article is an action-research based case study. The author of the ‎present article was the head of a development team in charge of designing a new master’s degree ‎programme in security management, and thus had the two roles of an action researcher: academic ‎researcher and practical problem solver (or change agent). The case university had already several ‎years of experience in providing a bachelor-level degree programme in security management. The ‎development team was composed of 10 experts in security management education and university ‎pedagogy. The development process of the master’s degree programme reported in this article took ‎‎22 months, starting from the initiation of the project and ending up to the point when the first students ‎began their studies in the programme. The findings of this study are based on observations during ‎the development process, memos, emails, various draft documents, as well other documents and ‎reports. These observations are subjective interpretations of the author of this qualitative action-‎research based article.‎

The present empirical study identifies and describes the nature of three main challenges in ‎developing higher education in security management. They are, firstly, the challenge of convincing ‎why the education is needed, secondly, the challenge of demonstrating the competence to provide ‎the education, and thirdly, the challenge of planning how to realize the education in practice. A ‎number of solutions to these challenges are reported in this article. (1) Following solutions relate to ‎convincing why the education is needed: a) careful and reliable motivation of every aspect of the ‎proposal for a degree programme, b) government and industry reports on skills and knowledge needed ‎in the future, c) results from interviews of professionals from industry and working life, and d) results ‎of discussion in the advisory board. (2) Solutions to the challenge of demonstrating the competence ‎to provide the education include: a) showing the special expertise in providing education in the ‎particular area, b) showing earlier success in bachelor-level education in the particular area, c) hard ‎statistics on attractiveness of earlier bachelor-level education: average time of studies, rate of ‎quitters, student satisfaction, and employment of graduates, d) showing teachers’ activity and merits ‎in developing the security and safety cluster, and d) revealing R&D&I-activity and merits including ‎scientific and applied publications. (3) Solutions to the challenge of planning how to realize the ‎education in practice cover: a) showing the structure of curriculum of the master’s degree programme, ‎b) showing internal teaching resources, c) showing external experts available for teaching, and d) ‎showing the quality assurance system of the degree program.‎