First Occupational Therapy students obtain international diploma

occupational therapy double degree joint programme

Three years ago, our Bachelor of Occupational Therapy launched a joint degree programme in cooperation with FH Wien University in Vienna and Metropolia University in Helsinki. The first students with a double degree have now graduated.

"Participating in the joint degree programme was a fantastic experience", says third-year Occupational Therapy student Nida Kazmi. "We were given the opportunity to spend a full semester abroad. I went to Helsinki for one week, and the rest of the time to Vienna in Austria."

Double degree

In total, nine Occupational Therapy students followed the joint degree programme, or FAB programme for short, which stands for Finland, Austria, Belgium. During their stay abroad, they followed a set of courses and practicums which closely matches the course units they would've followed here in Flanders. Because the programmes of the partner universities are so well coordinated, the students obtain a double degree after completing their studies. In concrete terms, this means that whoever passes a final exam in Vienna afterwards obtains a Belgian as well as an Austrian diploma. Those who want a Finnish certificate can follow an extra semester at Metropolia.

Impressive performance despite language barrier

"We are proud of our students who completed this module", says programme coordinator Marc Warmoes. "They made a very strong impression, were extremely committed and spoke an occupation-based language."

Nevertheless, the language barrier was a challenge. "In Austria, they speak a different kind of German than the German we're used to here in Belgium", Nida Kazmi explains. "At first, it was really hard to understand what people said! Thanks to the interaction with students and lecturers, I fortunately got used to it pretty quickly." Nida doesn't know yet whether she'll look for a job in Austria with her local diploma. "It's mostly the language that holds me back, because you really need to be able to communicate well with your patients in our field. Still, this diploma and this experience are great assets for my future."