Finland has two types of HEIs: universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS, in Finnish: ammattikorkeakoulu, abbreviated to AMK). The former offers scientific research and education, while the latter is focused on pragmatic education. UAS have a multidisciplinary approach in their teaching and they wish to connect students to the working life. There are 13 universities and 22 universities of applied sciences. Finland is a very attractive country to international students. The number of new foreign university students grew by nearly one-fifth, reaching 26,200 in 2018. In the same year, 154,400 foreign students were enrolled in Finnish universities. Moreover, nine of the institutions are consistently ranking within top 800 universities in the world, with the University of Helsinki on the 96th place. They scored highest on the “citations” category which highlights their research influence in the world and quality in teaching. For more information on the Finnish tertiary education, the Study in Finland website is available here and the Ministry of Education’s website is available here.
A new degree system in three cycles has been approved in 1995. Completion of the first cycle is awarded with the kandidaatti/kandidat and it represents the Bachelor’s degree. The duration of this programme is 3 years. Courses like Law and Medicine take longer or are incorporated inro integrated courses. Graduates can then move to complete the maisteri/magister, the Master’s degree, which required 2 years. Depending on the subject, other professional qualifications might be awarded. Lastly, students can take up a PhD for a minimum of 4 years to complete. Lisensiaatti/licentiat or tohtori/doctor (Doctorate degree) is only offered by universities. At UAS, students are awarded Ammattikorkeakoulututkinto/Yrkehögskoleexamen - Bachelor’s (180-240 ECTS) and Ylempi ammattikorkeakoulunjatkoluututkinto/Högre yrkeshögskoleexamen - Master’s (60-90 ECTS) degrees which involve a work placement.
Prospective students apply online at https://studyinfo.fi/wp2/en/higher-education/. The general requirement for admission to higher education is the Ylioppilastutskintotodistus / Studentexamenbevis, the general entrance exam. Foreign students should make sure they provide an equivalent of that exam, achieved in 12 years of schooling. For admission to postgraduate studies, a Bachelor’s (for Master’s studies) or Master’s (for doctorate studies) degree is desired. The main application period is between late November to mid-January before the academic year stars. In Finland two languages are primarily spoken: Finnish and Swedish. Therefore, there are universities that teach in Finnish, Swedish or bilingually. Nevertheless, more and more degrees taught in English are being introduced. The academic year usually runs from August/September to May/June in two semesters.
In Finland, education is generally free of charge. Universities and UAS charge student who pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in other language than Finnish or Swedish. EEU/EA and Swiss citizens are not required to pay tuitions fees. About 58% of national students enrolled in HEIs receive some sort of loans, scholarships or grants. However, living expenses can result in debt over the years. On average, a student in Finland borrows $6,100 per year, and 57% of graduates have debt as a result.
Information for International Students
Non-EU/EEA students need a student residence permit. The application should begin online at https://enterfinland.fi/eServices as soon as you have received your acceptance letter. After graduation, extension for your permit might be applied if you wish to start looking for work. In terms of living, you can find accommodation in two ways: in student housing, usually listed here, or on the private market. The average prices range between €160 - €380 per month. During your studies, you are allowed to work part-time, though there are certain limits for non-EU students on a student residence permit.