Higher Education in Finland
Polytechnics (also referred to as UAS, or universities of applied sciences) and universities are the two sectors comprising Finland's higher education system. While universities explicitly promote research-based academic studies such as biomedical and psychological programs, polytechnics provide students with vocational-type education intended to give them the skills necessary to gain employment upon graduating. You can only earn a post-Master's or doctoral degree from a university.
UAS's offer students access to various majors that provide Bachelor and Master degrees upon completion. It generally takes a polytechnic student between three and five years to earn a Bachelor's from a UAS and another two to three years to earn a Master's degree. Additionally, Finland's polytechnic universities have many programs and some Master's degrees that are available in English.
Admission to Finnish higher education institutions is based on a student's GPA earned while in high school or from taking a university's own entrance examination. These examinations differ from others in that they are not designed to test a student's ability to memorize information or "guess" the answer to a multiple choice question. Instead, questions on a Finnish entrance exam test analytic and critical thinking skills by implementing more short essay-type questions.
Students who graduate from a polytechnic university may apply at a university to pursue a master's degree. A polytechnic graduate may have to take additional studies at the university in order to maintain the level of education experienced by university graduates.
Finland's Tuition System
Finland's Ministry of Education funds higher education so citizens of Finland do not have to pay tuition fees when attending a polytechnic or university. Under current regulations, tuition fees are also waived for international students in most cases, but beginning in August 2017, non-Eu/EEA students studying Bachelor's or Master's degrees offered in English will have to pay tuition fees. Additionally, students attending a polytechnic facility or university will need to purchase books and other course materials as well as pay for their own living expenses. Finland's cost of living is similar to other European Union countries.
Visas and Student Resident Permits
If you are taking an entrance exam in Finland, you will need a visa, which allows you to stay a maximum of three months. As a degree student studying in Finland who is not an EU or EEA citizen, you will then need to apply for a student residence permit. For more information, contact your country's Finnish embassy to find out how to gain a student resident permit. You may also visit the website of the Finnish Immigration Service to determine what you will need to apply for this permit.
Be aware that at the time you apply for a student resident permit, you will be asked to show proof that you can support yourself while living in Finland. Currently, non-EU/EEA international students must show that have access to 6720€ per year or 560€ per month to minimally cover living expenses. In U.S. dollars this equates to about $615 per month or $7400 annually.
Why Study in Finland?
Finland has one of the highest performing education systems in the world, and the country's higher education institutions are uniquely focused on preparing students for the future. In addition, Finland's vibrant culture, the closeness to several other fascinating countries and the country's emphasis on constantly improving the quality of its higher education system makes Finland one of the best places to earn a degree in the world.
Finland is heavily forested and contains thousands of lakes, numerous rivers, and extensive areas of marshland. Except for a small highland region in the extreme northwest, the country is a lowland less than 600 ft (180 m) above sea level. Finland is one of the world's wealthiest nations. According to some measures, Finland has the best educational system in Europe and has recently been ranked as one of the world's most peaceful and economically competitive countries.
Bordered by Norway, Russia and Sweden, Finland is the most sparsely populated European Union country but is the eighth largest in land mass compared to other countries in Europe. Over two million people reside in Finland's capital of Helsinki, which is also Finland's financial, political, cultural and educational center. Nearly 70 percent of all foreign companies have established their baseline operations in the Helsinki area.
Finland is a wealthy nation and consistently ranks as one of the top five countries in the world in regards to living standards, economic stability and educational system. Because its comprehensive social welfare system amply provides excellent educational opportunities for everyone as well as health care and other benefits afforded a highly taxed society, Finland's economy remains prosperous due to its ability to give everyone a fair chance in realizing their potential as a viable member of Finnish society. In addition, Finland is a peaceful country that does not spend large amounts of taxes on its military items, which allows it to spend more on the welfare of its citizens.
Essential Facts about Finland
- Finland has 19 maakunta, or regions, that are overseen governmentally by regional councils representing cooperation forums for each region's municipalities.
- Each maakunta has state economic and employment development centers that manage the administration of forestry, agriculture, labor and fishery affairs in that particular region.
- Finland has nearly 190,000 lakes and 180,000 islands for students and tourists to explore. It also contains the fourth largest lake in Europe - Saimaa.
- Forests of birch, pine and spruce cover 86 percent of Finland, a factor that contributes to the country being the biggest wood producer in Europe.
- People living in the northern most area of Finland experience 73 days of perpetual sunlight during the summer and 51 days of 24-hour nighttime during winter.
- As a parliamentary democracy, Finland has a prime minister who is its most influential politician. Alternately, Finland's president is considered the "head of state". Citizens of Finland are permitted to vote and run in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections as well as other European Union elections.
- As a member of the EU, Finland uses the euro as its primary currency, which replaced the markka over a decade ago.
The official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. Swedish is primarily spoken in coastal areas as well as in the south, west and the Aland region. Finnish sign language and Finnish Romani are also recognized by the country's constitution. Ninety percent of Finland's population speak Finnish. Students interested in studying in Finland should be aware that while Finnish is a non-Indo-European language and it is very different from other languages spoken in Europe primarily due to its syntax - it has 15 different noun cases, unusual pronunciations and non-traditional grammar structure.
Because Finland lies close enough to the Atlantic Ocean, it experiences a continuous flow of warmth produced by the Gulf Stream. Finland is also warmer than its neighboring countries because of the moderating influence of the Baltic Sea along with its thousands of inland lakes interacting with Gulf Stream moisture. However, Finland has very cold, very snowy winters that typical see temperatures plunging to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius), with snow laying on the ground from November to April. Finland's warmest days occur in July, when citizens bask in warm sunshine and 90 degree Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) temperatures.
Religion in Finland
Approximately 75 percent of Finns belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The remaining 25 percent have no religious affiliation or consider themselves Protestant, Roman Catholic or Jewish.
Acts of Parliament establish Finland's official holidays which include New Year's, Easter, Christmas, Epiphany, All Saints' Day and Midsummer Day. May Day and Independence Day are considered secular holidays.
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