Studying in Finland
With its free tuition fees and league-topping universities, Finland is a desirable country for prospective students.
Situated in Northern Europe, it is the home to one of the most advanced education and academic systems in the world. This bilingual country (with Finnish and Swedish being spoken) is a wonderful place to pick up a second language; however, students who are anxious about their language skills need not worry as there are a number of degree courses that are taught in English too, making it an easier task to understand the language barriers as there will be a lot of English speaking people.
Finland is notorious for being different when it comes to academic excellence. Finnish children aren’t required to start schooling until the age of 7 and homework and exams are only known in the later stages of education. This forward-thinking approach to education results in consistently high scores regarding children’s reading, writing and science skills. English language skills are introduced early; therefore Finland is a welcoming and easy country for non-native speakers to live in – making it even more attractive to international students.
Finland’s location and climate create beautiful experiences that seem to only exist in storybooks, from the midnight sunshine in summer months to the polar nights when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon. Although we do always recommend having a study abroad back up plan and to learn about studying abroad in Europe before making any final decisions.
Read on to find out more about this exciting country:
The Finnish Academic System
Finland features two types of higher education systems including universities and polytechnics.
- Universities – there are 14 universities that operate under the Finnish Ministry for Education and Culture, all aim to provide academic education based on research. Finnish universities offer both undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses – choosing the right university is just as important as choosing a degree course.
- Polytechnics – these are also known as institutions of applied sciences and focus on training professions in response to the labour market needs. They also emphasise on close contact with business, industry and service sector at regional level. There are 24 of these academic institutions in Finland.
Finland’s academic year is split into two semesters; autumn and spring terms. The autumn semester begins in August or September and finishes in December, while the spring term starts in January and ends in the month of May. The application process for most degree courses is completed online in advance of the following academic year.
Finland has a lot to boast about, with the University of Helsinki being featured in the Top 100 of the World University Rankings in 2013-2014. There are approximately over 500 English language degree courses taught at Finnish universities that range from short courses to full degree courses.
At any given time there can be around 12,000 foreign students studying in Finland. Half of these exchange students are in the country to study for one term while the rest have independently applied for their full degree course.
What do I need to get into a Finnish university?
Each institution decides the eligibility of certain foreign qualifications; students can check the university’s website or contact the admissions office of their chosen institution for further information as some universities will require admissions tests. Prospective students wishing to study a bachelor’s degree course may need to take an entrance exam.
How much will it cost me to study in Finland?
EU national students can attend universities in Finland and pay the same rate as Finnish natives, which means they are absolutely free! There are no tuition fees charged for higher education degrees in Finland, regardless of the nationality of the student or the level of study they are applying for.
Will I get funding for studying in Finland?
International students need to have lived in the country for at least two years, for purposes other than academic, to be considered a permanent resident of Finland and to be eligible to apply for financial support. Due to the government funding tuition fees for all levels of studies, scholarships and grants are significantly harder to obtain than in other EU countries. However, some are available, but they are based on a case-to-case basis and take all aspects of an individual’s circumstances into account.
In addition, EU and non-EU students may be able to apply for scholarships in their home country from foundations or organisations (whether they are based in that country or overseas). Students should research and contact individual organisations that are connected to their degree courses, desired career or work experience to find out more.
It is common for students to work, gain experience and financially support themselves during term breaks and the summer. There is no restriction on a number of hours an EU national student is allowed to work while studying; however, competition for jobs may be high and difficult for any student that lacks in language skills. It is important to remember there is no minimum wage in Finland and salaries are set for various industries based on negotiations between employer and trade unions.
Accommodation is usually arranged through student housing foundations. Although some institutions offer housing services, it is worth checking before you book your flights! Prospective students should register their interest early for housing (before August and preferably the minute they receive an offer from a Finnish university). The price of a single room in a shared apartment is reasonable compared to other European cities.
Another note to remember, students are required to pay a small fee at their chosen university’s student union, this allows subsidised meals and travel.
Will I need a student visa to study in Finland?
EU citizens can live and study in any other EU country if they are enrolled at an approved university or other educational institution, have enough income from work or savings and hold sufficient European health insurance cover (which can include the EHIC card and/or additional travel insurance cover). International students need to register with their local authority for a residence permit within three months of their stay.
Cost of Living
- Potential jet-setting students should research how much their lifestyle will cost them when they fly off overseas. Here is a list of everyday items and their average cost in Finland.
- Dining out: 10.00 Euros/£8.76 per meal
- McDonald’s: 7.00 Euros/£6.13 per meal
- Beer: 5.00 Euros/£4.38 per pint
- Coke: 2.10 Euros/£1.84 per can
- Water: 1.50 Euros/£1.31 per bottle
- Milk: 0.50 Euros/£0.44 per pint
- Bread: 2.00 Euros/£1.75 per loaf
- Bus ticket: 3.00 Euro/£2.63 one way
- Bus ticket: 49.00 Euros/£42.93 per month
- Utilities: 132.00 Euros/£115.64 per month
- Internet: 19.00 Euros/£16.64 per month
- Cinema: 12.00 Euros/£10.51 per ticket