Finland, a land of stunning natural beauty, is a Nordic country renowned for its outstanding education system, cutting-edge research facilities, and high standard of living. No wonder it has become a popular destination among international students looking for quality education, unique cultural experiences, and a welcoming environment.
But studying in the country would require language proficiency depending on the compulsory medium of instruction of the university. There are two official languages in Finland: Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is spoken by the majority of the population, while a significant minority speaks Swedish. However, English is also widely spoken and used as the language of instruction in most universities. International students who do not speak the languages mentioned earlier may need to take language tests to prove their proficiency in the chosen language to be eligible for admission to their preferred Finnish university.
So, if you’re a student dreaming of studying in one of the world’s happiest and safest countries, keep reading to learn all you need to know about the different language tests necessary for you to take if you want to study in Finland.
What are the basic language requirements needed in Finland for international students?
If you’re an international student considering obtaining a higher education in Finland, you may wonder what language requirements you need to acquire to be admitted to a Finnish university. To study in Finland, international students are generally required to have a good command of the English language, which is the primary language of instruction in most universities. But for some universities, students may also need to obtain a basic understanding of Finnish or Swedish. However, the language proficiency requirements for Finnish or Swedish may vary depending on the program of study and the institution. It is important to note that acquiring these language competencies will be an added advantage even if the teaching is carried out in English.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the language requirements for international students, let’s take a look at the different language proficiency examinations commonly required for admission to a Finnish university.
Finnish Language Tests for International Students
To ensure that international students are adequately prepared for university-level coursework, applicants must demonstrate their linguistic proficiency in English and in Finnish or Swedish, depending on the official language of instruction of the student’s chosen program. To meet these language requirements, universities typically require international students to take language examinations, such as the Finnish National Certificate of Language Proficiency (YKI), which assesses proficiency in Finnish and Swedish.
1. Finnish National Certificate of Language Proficiency (YKI)
As described, the YKI test is a comprehensive assessment that assesses proficiency in both Finnish and Swedish. It evaluates your language skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, determining your ability to communicate effectively in everyday and academic contexts.
International students must pass a minimum score of level B1 or higher to be considered for academic study in Finland. Some universities may require a higher level for specific courses or programs, such as medicine or law.
Many major Finnish universities accept the YKI exam as proof of language competence, including the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, and the University of Turku, among others. YKI examinations are typically administered several times a year, and registration is open to anyone who wishes to take the test. It’s important to check that your desired university accepts the YKI test before even registering to avoid unnecessary circumstances that may lead to not accepting the said language proficiency certificate due to negligence.
You can apply for the test online through the YKI website, and the test fee is 120 euros. YKI certificate is only valid for two years from the date of completion, so it’s recommended to take the test close to the time of your university application.
English Language Tests for International Students
Aside from the native language requirements, English language tests are also a requirement for most universities in Finland. There are a variety of language examinations available for taking. In this section, we will explore some of the most important English language tests that can assist you in achieving your academic goals.
You’ll likely need to take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam to take your first step in demonstrating your English Language proficiency. IELTS is widely recognized as a reliable assessment of English language proficiency and is accepted by many universities in Finland, including the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, and the University of Oulu. The exam evaluates four language skills – reading, writing, listening, and speaking – and is used to determine your ability to communicate effectively in an English-speaking academic environment.
When applying to universities in Finland, keep in mind that the minimum IELTS score required may vary depending on the institution and program. However, as a general guideline, you’ll likely need to achieve a score of at least 6.5 in each section to be considered for admission. So, if you’re planning to study in Finland and English isn’t your first language, be sure to prepare for the IELTS exam to the best of your ability to ensure that you meet the language requirement of your desired program.
In addition to IELTS, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is another English language proficiency exam accepted by many universities in Finland. For example, the University of Turku, Tampere University, and Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) are among the institutions that recognize TOEFL scores. Like IELTS, the TOEFL evaluates the same set of skills with a particular emphasis on academic English.
When applying to universities in Finland, it’s important to research which English proficiency tests are accepted by your desired institutions and programs. The minimum required TOEFL score varies depending on the institution, with a typical range of 80 to 100. However, some universities may prefer one exam over the other, so be sure to check the specific requirements for your program. Ultimately, achieving a high level score on either the IELTS or TOEFL exam will be advantageous, especially in demonstrating your ability to succeed in an English-speaking academic environment.
Going a bit virtual, Duolingo English Test is an online English proficiency test gaining popularity among Finnish universities. The Duolingo test also measures the same four language skills but in an adaptive format. Universities accepting Duolingo scores are the University of Eastern Finland and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The minimum accepted score varies, but most universities require at least 95 out of 160. But as compared to the other two, Duolingo offers an affordable and accessible option for students who need to prove their English proficiency.
So, don’t let any language barrier hinder your journey to studying abroad. With the help of recognized language tests such as IELTS and YKI etc., you can unlock the doors to success and join a thriving academic community in Finland. Remember, language proficiency is a crucial factor in your academic and personal growth, and our guide is full of helpful information to help you achieve your educational goals. So take the first step, learn a new language, take the test, and see what this learning journey will take you!
Aside from language skills guidelines, our website is full of information about different Finland and European universities, as well as scholarship opportunities on the Europe Scholarships Page!