Study in Finland

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When degrees are free of charge and institutions regularly top league tables, it's no surprise that studying in Finland is an attractive prospect for students...

Situated in Northern Europe Finland has one of the most advanced educational systems in the world. As a bilingual country, (both Finnish and Swedish are spoken), it's also a great place to pick up a second language.

However if your Finnish isn't up to scratch before you go, don't panic, there are a number of courses taught in English.

Thanks to Finland's location and climate you will get to experience some pretty impressive spectacles, such as the midnight sun in the summer months and the polar night in winter, where the sun doesn't rise above the horizon at all.

The Finnish education system

There are two types of higher education institutions in Finland:

  • Universities - there are currently 14 universities operating under the Finnish Ministry for Education and Culture, all of which aim to provide academic education based on research. Universities in Finland offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
  • Polytechnics - also known as universities of applied sciences, they focus on training professionals in response to labour market needs and emphasise close contacts with business, industry and the service sector, particularly at a regional level. There are currently 24 of these institutions in Finland.

The academic year is split into two terms: autumn and spring. The autumn term lasts from August/September through to December and the spring from January until May. The application process for most degree programmes is usually completed online.

Entry requirements

The eligibility of foreign qualifications is decided by the individual institution, therefore you should contact the specific admissions office of your chosen university.

You may have to take an entrance exam to do a Bachelors degree, and at polytechnics you will need an undergraduate degree and three years of work experience to gain entry to the course.

When applying to do a Masters in Finland, your eligibility is based on the extent and quality of your earlier academic qualifications, your language skills and other possible faculty-specific requirements.

Course fees

European Union (EU) citizens are entitled to attend university in Finland or any EU country (this means the 27 member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

No tuition fees are charged for higher education degrees in Finland, regardless of the level of study or the nationality of the student.

For student exchanges, there can be a fee, especially if there's no agreement between the sending and receiving institutions.

Funding to study in Finland

Foreign students must have lived in Finland for at least two years for some other purpose than studies and be considered a permanent resident in Finland to apply for student financial aid.

The majority of available scholarships are mainly for Doctoral level students. It can be difficult for Bachelor and Masters students to obtain scholarships due the fact that the government already covers the cost of their education through the absence of tuition fees.

However, scholarships based on individual circumstances are available and these include:

  • CIMO - Scholarships for Doctoral-level studies and research at Finnish universities;
  • institutional scholarships offered by the higher education institutions themselves, especially for those enrolled in Masters programmes that carry a tuition fee for non-EU/EEA nationals.

You may be eligible to apply for some study abroad scholarships in your home country and from international organisations and foundations. You should contact the individual organisation to find out more.

You also need to pay a small fee to your chosen university's student union. With this membership fee, you'll get subsidised meals and travel.

Finnish exchanges and placements

Students attending UK universities can take part in the EU's education, training and youth support programme Erasmus+. The scheme replaces its predecessor 'Erasmus' and offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to millions of young people, students and adults. Opportunities last from three months to one academic year in EU countries.

Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative to any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation actively involved in education and training.

Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in Finland. Check that your university is involved in the programme and offers the Erasmus+ scheme in your subject.

It isn't necessary to speak the Finnish language, but if you want to, you can arrange intensive language courses before you go. Speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university about available opportunities.

Student visas

As an EU citizen, you are permitted to live in any EU country while studying as long as you:

  • are studying for more than three months;
  • are enrolled at an approved university/other educational institution;
  • have sufficient income (from any source) to live without needing income support;
  • have comprehensive health insurance cover.

Some countries require you to register with the local authority after three months. Find out how to register at Europa - Rights, Conditions and Formalities.