Offering a high quality and affordable education along with the chance to live in the happiest and safest country on earth are just some reasons to consider studying in Finland
More than 20,000 international students are currently studying in Finland and there’s never been a better time to join them. For the second year in a row, Finland was voted the world’s happiest country in the World Happiness Report 2019.
In your time away from study there’s plenty to explore, from visiting Santa Claus in Lapland to witnessing the country’s natural phenomena of permanent sunrise, the Midnight Sun, from June to July.
Finland is the perfect destination to boost your career prospects, as shortages in the labour market mean there’s plenty of opportunity for employment once you graduate.
There are two types of higher education institutions in Finland:
- Universities – 13 universities operate under the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, all of which aim to provide academic education based on research. Universities in Finland offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
- Universities of Applied Science (UAS) – formerly known as polytechnics, these focus on training professionals in response to labour market needs and emphasise close contacts with business, industry and the service sector. There are currently 23 in Finland.
Both offer qualifications at Bachelors and Masters level, in line with the three-tier Bologna process. However, only universities offer PhD courses.
Finland’s academic calendar runs from 1 August to 31 July. The year is split into two semesters:
- autumn – from August/September to December
- spring – from January to May.
Finland’s institutions are recognised by the QS World University Rankings 2020. Nine universities appear in the list, led by the University of Helsinki in 107th position, followed by Aalto University ranked 134th.
Degree courses in Finland
English-speaking Bachelors are mainly found in UAS institutions – traditional universities have more to offer candidates looking for courses taught in English at Masters and PhD level. However, UAS institutions provide more than a hundred Bachelors courses in English, in locations across Finland and in a range of subjects.
A three-year university Bachelors degree, typically taught in Finnish or Swedish, is made up of basic and intermediate study, a language component, and a thesis.
UAS programmes have a strong vocational emphasis, giving students relevant on-the-job training as a compulsory part of the course to prepare them for entering the world of employment. As a UAS student, you’ll complete core and optional studies resulting in the submission of a thesis.
At Finnish universities, Masters courses take two years to complete. Those delivered at UAS institutions can be shorter, due to candidates needing a wealth of professional experience – usually three years’ worth – before the course begins.
Courses are delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and internships, either face-to-face or in an online format. You’ll also gain credits from general studies and language courses. Assessment methods include coursework assignments, exams and a final dissertation.
Your eligibility for a course is based on the extent and quality of your previous academic qualifications, your language skills and other faculty-specific requirements.
To search for English-taught Masters courses in Finland, see Studyinfo.fi – Masters.
Finnish PhD courses are only offered at traditional universities. They’re typically four years in length, although some can be longer, and are provided in both English and Finnish.
Doctorate-level study is research based, and incorporates compulsory coursework, seminars, conferences and the submission of a thesis. You might have to defend your published thesis in a public discussion as part of your final assessment.
Unlike Bachelors and Masters, where courses follow a set structure, PhD studies are available in tailor-made form. Shop around to find an institution that can best cater to your research aspirations.
Students currently attending a UK university can take part in the EU’s education, training and youth support programme, Erasmus+ (confirmed for the 2020/21 academic year). The scheme offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements, with opportunities lasting from three months to one academic year.
Financial support is available through Erasmus+ for any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation that is actively involved in education and training. However, your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country, of which Finland is one. Speak to your institution for information on how to apply.
If you’re from a Nordic or Baltic country, and currently studying for a Bachelors or Masters, you may be interested in applying for the Nordplus Higher Education Programme enabling you to study in Finland for up to a year.
This information is still valid following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes occur.
If you’re from an EU/European Economic Area (EEA) country, you’re in luck – you’ll incur no tuition fees studying in Finland. Non-EU/EEA students, however, are subject to annual tuition fees, typically between €6,000 and €10,000 (£4,980 and £8,300). Check with your institution for specific figures.
You’ll also have to pay a small fee to join your university’s students’ union, which is usually around €60 (£50) for the semester or €120 (£100) for the year.
On top of course fees you need to factor in the costs of living in Finland, which can be expensive, as pointed out at Edunation. If you’re living in a city such as Helsinki, you’ll need to budget for €700-€1,000 (£580-£830) per month for costs including accommodation, transport, food and course materials.
If you’re a non-EU/EEA student, you’ll have to prove you have financial backing in the process of applying for your student residence permit. This is in addition to the costs of your insurance.
Funding to study in Finland
EU/EEA citizens will be hard pushed to find funding at Bachelors or Masters level due to not having to pay any tuition fees. However, the Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) offers a number of scholarships for Doctoral students. Find out more at Finnish National Agency for Education – Scholarship programmes.
Alternatively, look into completing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree. As part of this scheme, EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students can benefit from postgraduate funding.
If you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen, you may still be able to find funding for your Bachelors or Masters through your place of study. Browse Study in Finland’s details on tuition fees and costs to see if funding is available to you.
While you’ll have the freedom to find part-time work to support your time in Finland, don’t rely on this as your sole source of income. As a native English speaker, you may find language barriers prevent you from securing employment. If you’re successful in finding a job, you may find that your earnings don’t fully cover your costs of living. Ensure that you’ve budgeted carefully before making the move.
As an EU/EEA citizen, you won’t need to apply for a visa to complete your studies in Finland. However, you’ll need to register at your local police station within three months of your arrival, and if you’re staying for longer than a year you’ll need to register with the Finnish Population Information System. This can be done at your nearest Local Register office.
If you’re from a country outside the EU/EEA and looking to study for a minimum of three months, you’ll need to obtain a renewable student residence permit.
To apply for this permit, you’ll need a formal letter of acceptance from your Finnish university, health insurance and proof that you can support yourself financially through your studies. Applications can be processed via Enter Finland or the Finnish consulate or embassy in your home country – for the UK, this is the Embassy of Finland, London.
This can be a lengthy process, taking a number of months, so allow plenty of time for your application to be approved by sending it off as soon as possible.
This visa information is still valid following the UK’s decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes happen.
How to apply
All applications to study at Bachelors or Masters level in Finland must be submitted through Studyinfo.fi. The site can also be used to browse available courses in both English and Finnish, and contains information on all areas of the Finnish higher education sector.
Typically, annual deadlines are as follows:
- Bachelors – January for courses starting in the autumn term, or September for courses with a January start date.
- Masters – application windows are slightly more lenient, opening late November/early December and remaining open till mid/late January. UAS institutions can extend this deadline to March in some cases.
If you’re applying for a PhD course, you’ll do so directly to your chosen institution. There’s no stipulated timeframe, with some schools accepting applications all year round. Check whether you’re working to a deadline or not before beginning your application.
Masters applicants should hold an undergraduate degree, as well as proof of language proficiency where required and proof of higher education qualifications. You won’t typically need to sit an entrance exam, although if you’re applying for a UAS Masters you might also need a few years of professional experience.
To be accepted onto a Bachelors course, you’ll need to hold the right educational certificates, meet language expectations and successfully pass an entrance exam.
You must be able to demonstrate proficiency in English for English-taught courses. The most commonly accepted proof is the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
If you’re a native English speaker, you most likely won’t have to prove your proficiency with an official test. Exact guidelines for language requirements vary between institutions – check with yours to see what’s required of you.
To study courses in Finnish, you’ll need to be relatively fluent in the language when making your application. This means that you should be between intermediate and advanced level on the following proficiency scales:
Even if you’re enrolling on an English-speaking course, it’s advisable to learn some Finnish before you arrive to help you communicate and engage with your community. You can take online courses for free at sites such as Venla.info.
When searching for a country to study abroad, Finland is definitely one of the countries to consider. There are many reasons to study in Finland. For one, it’s not like studying in Syria, or Somalia. Finland is definitely one of the best places to study in the world. Want to know why? Keep reading…
Here we go:
1). Why Study In Finland?-Free Tuition
This is unlike other countries such as USA, UK, Canada, Australia where you have to be awarded some form of scholarship to enjoy free tuition.
However, there are a few exceptions, such as:
- Master’s students may have to pay tuition if they are not from the EU/EEA.
- Exchange students may have to pay fees, especially if there’s no agreement between the sending and receiving institutions.
- Students applying for language courses may be asked to pay for tuition.
2). Why Study In Finland?-World-Class / Quality Education
Finland is known for its innovative approach when it comes to education.
I’ll list a few facts about the educational system in Finland:
- Children don’t start formal schooling until the comparatively late age of 7.
- Homework and exams are limited until the later stages of education.
- Despite what I listed above, the country’s students consistently score highly in terms of their reading, writing and science skills when compared with international peers.
- All teachers in Finland must have a master’s degree, which is fully supported.
- Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.
- Teachers are well paid.
- Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for “professional development”.
- Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.
- The teaching profession is well respected (as doctors and lawyers).
You can find more facts about the educational system in Finland here.
With the way the government of Finland invests in education, you don’t expect Finland to have universities that are not among the best in the world.
Here is a list of Finnish Universities in the THE top 500 ranking of world universities:
- Aalto University
- Lappeenranta University of Technology
- Tampere University of Technology
- University of Eastern Finland
- University of JyvÃ¤skylÃ¤
- University of Oulu
- University of Tampere
- University of Turku
3). Why Study In Finland?– Good Government
- The government of Finland is one of the best in the world.
- It is democratic.
- It is one of the least corrupt.
- It’s generous to international students (eg: offers free tuition, scholarship or grants to international students, etc).
4). Why Study In Finland?-You’ll Most Likely Be Taught In English
Contrary to what happens in most non-native English speaking countries- you’ll be taught in English and not Finnish.
There are about 550 English language courses taught at Finnish higher education institutions. This range from short courses that form part of exchange programmes to full degree courses.
A database of English courses can be found here.
5). Why Study In Finland?-An Opportunity To Learn Other Languages
The common languages spoken in Finland include:
|Residents of Finland by native language (2012)|
|Language||No. of speakers (>5,000)||Percentage|
Studying in Finland would present you the opportunity to learn any of the languages listed above.
And learning any of the languages above, would definitely be of great boost to your personality and CV/Resume.
6). Why Study In Finland?-Easy Communication
English language skills are introduced to the curriculum early.
According to Wikipedia, 70% of the people in Finland speak English. So Finland is an easy country for non-native speakers to live.
7). Why Study In Finland?-Direct Enrolment:
You don’t need to spend a year in a Finnish language school.
You don’t need to spend a year to do a foundation program in your chosen program-once you are accepted you are accepted.
8). Why Study In Finland?-It’s Fun
The people of Finland are generally friendly.
There are so many things to do in Finland. These include:
- Visiting Father Christmas: Everyone knows Santa Claus comes from Finland. Although the exact location of his private retreat in Korvatunturi, Lapland, is unknown, his official hometown is Rowvaniemi, where he greets visitors all year round.
- Ice hockey:
- Heavy metal
- Saunas: Sauna is the only Finnish word that has been internationally accepted in other languages. Having a sauna can mean anything from a quick 10-minute steam session to a social event lasting several hours.
- Design shows
- Snow sports
There are so many places to visit. These include:
- The great lakes: Finland has lots of them-clean ones.
- The Finish Saunas: I’ve already talked about this.
- The vast green forests: 70% of Finland is made of forests that look like this:
I guarantee you’ll not get bored.
9). Why Study In Finland?-Opportunities To Visit EU Countries
Once you have your Finnish resident permit, you don’t need to apply for a visa to visit the 26 EU countries belonging to the Schengen area.
These countries are:
- Czech republic
This provides you an opportunity to experience a wide range of cultures, and meet new people.
10). Why Study In Finland?-Stability
According to the Global Peace Index (GPA), Finland is the 6th most peaceful country in the world.
A country’s peacefulness is measured on a wide range of indicators. These include:
- Number of external and internal conflicts fought
- Number of deaths from organised conflict (external)
- Number of deaths from organised conflict (internal)
- Level of organised conflict (internal)
- Relations with neighbouring countries
- Level of perceived criminality in society
- Number of refugees and displaced persons as percentage of population
- Political instability
- Terrorist activity
- Political terror scale
- Number of homicides per 100,000 people
- Level of violent crime
- Likelihood of violent demonstrations
- Number of jailed persons per 100,000 people
- Number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 people
- Military expenditure as a percentage of GDP
- Number of armed-services personnel
- Volume of transfers of major conventional weapons as recipient (imports) per 100,000 people
- Volume of transfers of major conventional weapons as supplier (exports) per 100,000 people
- Financial contribution to UN peacekeeping missions
- Nuclear and heavy weapons capability
- Ease of access to small arms and light weapons
The main findings of the Global Peace Index are:
- Peace is correlated to indicators such as income, schooling and the level of regional integration
- Peaceful countries often share high levels of transparency of government and low corruption
- Small, stable countries which are part of regional blocks are most likely to get a higher ranking.
11). Why Study In Finland?-World-Class Internet Speed
According to Forbes, Finland is 10th in the list of countries with the fastest internet speed in the world.
12). Why Study In Finland?-Great Students Satisfaction
Every international student I know studying in Finland has given me a positive review about studying in Finland. This is unlike the ones I know studying in Cyprus, Turkey, UK, USA, etc.
This online survey says it all-sort of.
13). Why Study In Finland?-Experience New People And Culture
This is certainly one of the pros of studying abroad.
Around 12,000 international students are studying in Finland at any one time. Less than half of these are exchange students who come for just one term. The rest are students that have independently applied to study full degrees in the country.
Studying in Finland offers you the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the world. By doing so, you’ll be exposed to their cultures, and probably learn a thing or two from them.
You’d also be presented with the opportunity to make lifelong friends.
14). Why Study In Finland?-Diversity
Studying in Finland offers you the opportunity to experience true diversity.
You’ll come to understand people for who they are, and probably develop a different perspective at the way you look at things. This will enable you make better judgements.
15). Why Study In Finland?-Gain Independence
With the free tuition, all you have to pay for is your accommodation, food, etc-which are all relatively cheap as compared to other EU countries.
If you’re making a good income-you’ll probably not need your parents to sponsor you.
16). Why Study In Finland?-Increase Your International Job Prospects
You can go home at the end of your time as an international student in Finland, or choose to apply for a working visa. Even if you return home or decide to seek to work elsewhere, the international experience provided by studying in Finland is likely to be looked on favorably by employers.
Finland is one of the northernmost countries in the world, and while it may be off the beaten track this Nordic country is anything but insular. Finland leads the world in education, government transparency, stability, and saunas. But what makes Finland the perfect destination for an international student? We asked Mats Engblom from the University of Helsinki to tell us what makes Finland special.
1. Natural Beauty
The entire country of Finland, barring a few islands of its southernmost coast, is located above the 60th parallel. Finland’s geographic location, as well as its stunning landscape, makes it an ideal location for students wanting to study and explore. Head north in the summer when the sun doesn’t set and hike around any of Finland’s 168,000 lakes. In the winter, Finland turns into a winter wonderland with cross country ski trails through Helsinki’s central park and northern lights that dance across the sky.
2. Vibrant International Community
Finland has a small population (just under 5.5 million people), but the country has a diverse international community, and international students will find a warm welcome. The University of Helsinki, along with the rest of the country, has worked to establish an “attractive and internationally competitive” profile and international students have a strong network of support.
3. Strong Local Culture
Finnish people may seem very reserved, but once you get to know them, you’ll find a warm, friendly population and cities full of life. Finns drink more coffee than any other people on earth (around 12kg per person per year!) and the capital city of Helsinki is “full of cafes, culture and clubs.” Spend your weekends browsing flea markets and art galleries, and check out the city’s dynamic music scene featuring everything from classic operas to a rock culture that makes Finland a leader in yet another area – heavy metal bands!
4. World-Class Education
You can hardly open the news without hearing about Finland’s marvelous education system, but the country deserves its reputation. Finland repeatedly ranks in the top five for PISA scores, Finns borrow more library books than any other country in the world, and in the “latest Shanghai ranking, [the University of Helsinki was] #56.” The university is working its way to the top of the ranking and employs instructors who are also esteemed researchers, making it a smart choice for ambitious international students.
Apart from the occasional bear, the streets of Helsinki are relatively safe. The capital of Finland is the second safest city in the world and has been named the most livable city in the world. Outside the city crime rates are remarkably low, and the greatest risk to public safety comes from the wildlife – watch out for moose on the highways!
6. Everyone Speaks English
Finland’s well-educated population is also extremely fluent in English. Last year, the country ranked #4 in the Education First English Proficiency Index, and Finland’s universities offer around 450 programs in English. While international students are encouraged to learn Finnish during their studies, students at the University of Helsinki have access to courses at different levels in English.
7. Modern Research Universities
Finland’s high educational standards are just one of the ways that this forward-thinking country works to make the world and the future a better place. Finland leads the world in futurology, and its universities are central to the country’s efforts. Students can join the Helsinki Challenge, “a science based competition and idea accelerator,” that aims to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and build a better future.
8. Ideal Location
Finland holds a unique place between east and west and the capital, Helsinki, is only a few hours from Russia and Estonia by train and ferry. The country also has strong ties with Scandinavia and many Finns speak Swedish as fluently as they do Finnish. And with ferries connecting Helsinki and Stockholm, Finland serves as a perfect jumping-off point for the rest of Europe as well.
It’s easy to travel from Finland to nearby Scandinavian or northern and eastern Europe, but the country’s main carrier – Finnair – is setting its sights a bit further afield. The country’s location makes it well-placed for flights to and from Asia, and the Finnish airline has already launched plans to increase Asian traffic by 2020. Finnair was the first European airline to offer non-stop flights to Tokyo, and the airline currently offers 77 non-stop flights to Asia from Helsinki every week. This is great news for international students from Asia, or for students who want to use their holidays to explore the world.
10. The Saunas!
And, if world-class education, low crime rates, stunning natural beauty, and easy travel access isn’t enough, then Finland has one more ace up its sleeve. Finland may not have exclusive claim to the sauna, but no other country in the world knows how to steam the way that Finland does. With more than three million saunas, Finland tops the charts for saunas per capita, and even tiny student flats are likely to feature at least one.
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