Higher education institutions
Finland has two types of higher education institutions: universities and polytechnics. Universities focus on research, scientific, and artistic learning, and generally provide a more theoretical education. Polytechnics (universities of applied sciences) concentrate study on practical skills and seldom pursue research. They are, however, active in industry development projects. All Finnish universities are owned by the state, whereas vocational schools and polytechnics are governed by local municipalities or private entities.
Structure of Finnish Higher Education
As with most countries in Europe today, the Finnish system of higher education follows the guidelines of the Bologna declaration. The purpose of this declaration is to facilitate the movement of students between countries in Europe, but also to make comparisons between schools and study programs easier as well as improve the quality of higher education in Europe.
The Bologna System uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to measure higher education credits.
The Bologna system also dictates the structure of higher education, which is usually split into bachelors and masters degrees:
3 years (180 ECTS credits) toward a professional bachelor or an academic bachelor. Offers students core teaching in the chosen discipline, as well as a broad general education. The academic bachelor gives access to study toward a masters degree.
A polytechnic degree takes 3.5 to 4 years of study. Outside of Finland, polytechnic degrees are generally accepted as lower university degrees. Polytechnic-graduated bachelors are able to continue their studies by applying to Masters
degree programs in universities.
1 to 1.5 years (60 or 120 ECTS credits). Study of specialized content while allowing for further development of the scientific research process.
After obtaining a Masters degree, students can choose to pursue research projects leading to a Doctorate degree (PhD). PhDs are only awarded by Universities.
Language in Finland
Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. The principal language of instruction in higher education is Finnish, however many institutions also have instruction completely or partly in Swedish. Today, there are also many universities and other education alternatives that offer complete education programs in English.
For students who are interested in studying either Swedish or Finnish, most schools offer language courses, adding an extra dimension to their study abroad experience.
Admission into Finland's Education System
Students are generally able to apply to Finnish institutions of higher education if they have a diploma from completing secondary education. When recruiting new students, Finland uses national matriculation examination and entrance examinations as criteria for student selection.
Education application forms are available directly from the universities and polytechnics. Applying to education programmes conducted in English at polytechnics takes place through a system of joint application. Prospective students can apply to four different degree programmes at polytechnics using the same application form.
Costs of Education in Finland
University higher education in Finland is funded by the State through the Ministry of Education. Hence, students enrolled in regular degree studies pay no tuition fees. Polytechnics do not charge tuition fees either, but a few institutions currently charge fees for tuition materials, etc. Although tuition fees are free, students need to pay for books and other materials, plus their accommodation and living expenses. The total monthly living expenses of a student in Finland average around 700 €.
Education in Finland is a unique experience pursuing a high-quality university or polytechnic degree in one of Europe’s most northern countries.
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To learn more about studying abroad in Finland, check out our informative Study in Finland guide!