Hosting many of the top universities and colleges in the world, Finland is known for its top-quality education, high standards of living, and unique tourist destinations. Finland is a Nordic country with its capital, Helsinki, and the country has a reputation for being the happiest country five times in a row. Thanks to its humanitarian approach and academic innovations, Finland is attracting students from both EU and non-EU students to pursue their education at the top Finnish universities and colleges.

What makes studying in Finland attractive for international students? Although there are many reasons, the major factors include quality of life, safety, a top-quality education system, a friendly social environment, and higher employment rates. Also, when compared to the other popular study-abroad destinations such as the US, Australia, or the UK, studying in Finland is more affordable, with fairly lower tuition fees and many scholarship opportunities.

Read more to learn everything you need to know about studying in Finland and start your journey in academics.

How to Plan for Your Studies in Finland

Following the right plan is the key to building the future you desire. Below is our guide to planning your studies in Finland.

Education System in Finland

One of the prominent aspects of Finland is its modern and innovative education model studied by numerous educators from different parts of the world. In fact, Finnish education is often number one worldwide in many categories. Then, what makes the Finnish education system unique?

Firstly, higher education in Finland is a privilege for international students thanks to the scholars and experts respected for their significant contributions to their field and literature. Secondly, students in Finnish higher education are constantly encouraged to discover the depths of knowledge through thorough research and experimentation, which makes them intellectuals and experts during their study program.

Higher education in Finland promotes independence for students to make their study plans with the flexibility to choose a variety of subjects and disciplines. The courses are mainly taught in Finnish or English, and graduate studies in Finland are very common for students after completing an undergraduate program.

Below are the numbers of public and private Finnish universities recognized by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture:

  • Total number of public universities: 13
  • Total number of private universities: 1
  • Total number of private universities of applied sciences: 3
  • Total number of universities of applied sciences: 22
  • Total number of international students: approximately more than 7,000

Choosing a University in Finland

Choosing the right Finnish university and study program is a big step for international students, and there are plenty of top-class academic programs in Finland to pursue. How do you choose the right school and program, then? First, getting to know about the best Finnish colleges and their programs is crucial for international students so they can try their best to get into the top schools in the country. Below, we listed the top five Finnish universities for international students:

Universities and Institutions in Finland
1. University of Helsinki Admissions | Tuition Fees | Scholarships
2. Aalto University Admissions | Tuition Fees | Scholarships
3. University of Turku Admissions | Tuition Fees | Scholarships
4. Tampere University Admissions | Tuition Fees | Scholarships
5. University of Oulu Admissions | Tuition Fees | Scholarships

As stated earlier, most Finnish universities are public, which means lower tuition fees for international students. On the other hand, not only top universities but many other Finnish higher education institutions seek talent and ambition from every student, causing them to have lower acceptance rates in general. Choosing the right university requires, therefore, dedication and massive interest in the academic field of choice.

Choosing a Study Program in Finland

Choosing the right university makes sense when international students can choose the right study program based on their skills, academic interests, and motivation. Yet, there is another factor that is specifically important to finding the right academic program in Finland: the university and program requirements.

Popular study programs in Finland are usually business, engineering, nursing, IT, education, and more. Most Finnish universities, especially the universities of applied sciences, provide students from all degree levels with theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

How are higher education programs provided in Finland? Below, we explained the study degrees at Finnish universities.

Degrees Duration
Bachelor’s degrees minimum of 3 years to complete and provide broad knowledge and experience
Master’s degrees minimum of 2 years to complete, involve a thesis, and provide in-depth knowledge and/or specific experience
Master’s degrees (Universities of Applied Sciences) usually take 1 to 1.5 years to complete, and can require 2 years of professional experience
Licentiate degrees usually take 2 to 3 years to complete, rare degrees of study which are considered as junior programs before the actual doctorate
Ph.D. programs usually take 4 years to complete and often involve a dissertation

How to Finance Your Education in Finland

Finland is considered the 7th most expensive country in the world, which makes it extremely important for international students to prepare their budgets wisely. Below is a guide on how to finance your education in Finland.

Tuition Fees in Finland

Despite the higher costs of living in Finland, Finnish universities do not charge their students high tuition fees; in fact, studying in Finland can be less expensive than in many European countries.

Like many other countries in the European Union, Finnish universities do not charge EU citizens any tuition fees, yet for non-EU international students, there is an annual tuition fee requirement. However, most Finnish universities provide generous tuition fee waivers and scholarship opportunities for international students in Finland, which means it is also possible to study in Finland for free as an international student with outstanding skills.

Below is a range of tuition fees at Finnish universities for international students:

  • Bachelor’s and master’s programs: free for EU students, €6,000 to €18,000 per year for non-EU students
  • Doctorate programs: free for everyone

As there are very few private universities, their tuition fee is similar to public universities, except this time, EU and non-EU students are responsible for a very similar amount of cost. Usually, the cheapest Finnish universities include Oulu University of Applied Sciences for bachelor’s programs or the University of Turku for master’s programs. The most expensive universities are the University of Helsinki, with a range of €13,000 – €16,000 per year.

Cost of Living in Finland

Depending on where you are coming from, living expenses can be relatively high in Finland; however, one merit of studying in Finland is that international students often have scholarships, making it easier to afford to live in the country.

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is the most popular but also expensive city for international students, with an average living expense of €1,000 or €1,500 per month. Living in other cities such as Oulu or Tampere costs less, with an average of €800 per month. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the cost of living in Finland for international students can depend heavily on the student’s lifestyle and choices, as well.

Below, we stated the average monthly cost of living expenses for international students in Finland:

  • Accommodation: €160 – €400 per month for a room in a shared student apartment, €800 per month on average for a rental apartment
  • Food: €200 – 250 per month for groceries, €12 per meal at an inexpensive restaurant
  • Transportation: €50 for a monthly pass, €3 for a one-way ticket
  • Books and other school-related expenses: €50-70 per month for course books and other items
  • Miscellaneous expenses: €100 – €150 per month for social activities

Is health insurance for international students in Finland mandatory? Yes, the Finnish Immigration Service mandates international students to obtain a health insurance plan to be able to receive their residence permit. The cost differs according to your duration of stay at the Finnish universities, so the rate is around €40 to €120. For more details, kindly check out the insurance providers.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

One of the main reasons why so many international students prefer studying in Finland is that they can benefit from numerous scholarship opportunities. Many of the scholarships in Finland are provided by universities or student foundations; below we stated some of the most common examples of scholarships in Finland:

1. The Finland Scholarships

  • Eligibility: non-EU master’s and Ph.D. students (UAS students are excluded)
  • Grant: 100% of the tuition fee and €5000 relocation grant per year

2. Finland Bachelor’s and Master’s Scholarships

  • Eligibility: non-EU bachelor’s and master’s universities (all universities and UAS in Finland)
  • Grant: 100% of the tuition fees

3. Tuition Fee Waiver at the University of Helsinki

  • Eligibility: non-EU bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. students
  • Grant: covers full tuition fee waiver

4. Tampere University Scholarships

  • Eligibility: All bachelor’s and master’s students
  • Grant: 100% of the tuition fees

The Finland Scholarships are recognized by most Finnish universities and can be applied at the admitted university’s page. Admission requirements for international students usually include an academic record, a motivation letter, and sometimes a resume and interview. Note that generally, applications to scholarships during the application process or once admitted to a Finnish university, which means you need to be careful not to miss out on any scholarship application period.

How to Apply to Finnish Universities

Below is a guide for international students to apply to Finnish universities.

Admission Requirements

Sometimes, you can think you want to focus on a particular discipline in your degree program, yet you also need to acknowledge the program requirements to continue your education.

Each Finnish university is unique, in its principles, procedures, and requirements. This makes it extremely important for international students to research the programs they wish to apply to and learn what kind of prerequisites and requirements they mandate. Admission requirements can slightly or heavily change based on the type of degree, program, university, or student. International students may be applied with different sets of requirements, as well; thus, our advice for international students is to learn every detail about the programs they want to study in Finland.

Although admission requirements can change for every program or university, below we stated the general requirements international students should have for admission to Finnish universities:

  • Graduation from the latest completed degree
  • Eligibility for student visa
  • Valid passport
  • Proof of academic record
  • Proof of language proficiency (Swedish, Finnish, or English proficiency)
  • Satisfactory scores in program-specific academic qualifications
  • Health insurance coverage

Required Documents

Based on the program requirements of the specific Finnish university, international students ought to submit the necessary documents to prove their eligibility for the desired program. Below is the list of commonly required documents for international students applying to Finnish universities:

  1. Application form (softcopy or hardcopy, depending on the university requirement)
  2. Official copy of the diploma(s)
  3. Transcript of the latest completed degree
  4. Copy of a valid passport and a valid photo
  5. Proof of the total score of the English language proficiency exams (IELTS/TOEFL/PTE/Cambridge (FCE/CAE/CPE)
  6. Curriculum Vitae
  7. Scores of specific academic examinations (e.g., SAT, GRE)
  8. Statement of Purpose
  9. Letters of Recommendations
  10. Portfolios or projects (depending on the program’s requirements)

Application Deadlines

When applying to Finnish universities, international students should keep in mind that domestic and overseas applications can have different application timelines, mainly because it takes longer for international applications to make it to admissions considering the visa process and so on. Therefore, it is crucial to act early to make sure no step is missed.

Below is an application timetable for international students to apply to Finnish universities, yet for the exact information, kindly confirm with the desired university.

Autumn Intake Spring intake
Applications start December August
Application deadline January October
Admissions March or April January

Note that Finnish universities mostly have the Autumn intake only, yet some schools accept students for January admissions, as well. We suggest you arrange your application plan for the Autumn intake so you can have more options.

General Admission Steps

Planning makes your application more organized and error-free since there is no possibility of missing a deadline or required documentation. If you are panicked and don’t know how to start your application, our guide will help you organize your actions for university admissions.

Below, we state the general admission steps once you start your application to Finnish universities.

  1. Choose your university and program
  2. Check the program requirements
  3. Prepare your documents
  4. Start your online application
  5. Submit your application with documents
  6. Apply for the scholarships
  7. Accept your admission offer

Remember that these are only the general requirements and admissions process for applying to a university in Finland. You need to be aware of the specific requirements if you are applying for a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree.

How to Obtain a Student Visa in Finland

According to the Finnish Immigration Service, all students should obtain a residence permit with a student status to legalize their stay in Finland. Once you receive the official acceptance from a Finnish university, you can start your student visa application to receive a residence permit throughout your study program in Finland.

Study permits for international students can differ in Finland; as Finland is a member of the EU, students with EU citizenship have the eligibility to continue their education in the country. Non-EU students, however, need to obtain a residence permit to pursue their education in Finland. The study permit is valid for the entire duration of the study program.

Required Documents and Application Process

Visa requirements for studying in Finland are generally an official university acceptance letter, a valid passport and photo, proof of financial availability, an application form, and so on. Below is a list of the process of obtaining the study permit for Finland:

  1. Collect the required documents
  2. Pay for the visa application fee (€350 for electronic application and €450 for paper application)
  3. Visit the nearest Finnish embassy in your location or make an appointment
  4. Wait for the notification of the decision

How to Prepare for Your Arrival in Finland

Moving into a different country has always its own challenges and preparations; the key is to be well-prepared for what can pop up ahead. Below, we shared some of the most essential preparations you need to take as international students in Finland:

Arrange Accommodation

Arranging your accommodation is the first and most important step you need to take care of as an international student; after all, you need to stay in that accommodation from the first days of your arrival in the country. Fortunately, there are many ways to arrange housing for international students in Finland. However, rental apartment or dormitory arrangements can take longer than you expect, mainly because of the paperwork or strong demand for student accommodation options. Our advice is the sooner you act to find your accommodation, the better.

Pack Essentials

When moving abroad, you may need your essential items with you, yet it’s also difficult to travel with all your belongings. The best way is to make a list of the most crucial items you need in Finland, such as warm clothes, electronic devices, personal items, and so on, and pack them in a smart fashion to avoid overpacking.

Familiarize yourself with the Town/city

Depending on which part of Finland you are moving to, it is always a good idea to get to know around and search for the significant locations, transportation systems, housing options, and distance to school or city center from your neighborhood. You can ask a former or current student or search online for accurate information.

How to Study and Live in Finland

Student life in Finland is one of the best experiences for international students. Finland is one of the most unique countries in the world with its own way of life, which can create some cultural differences for international students when they arrive in the country.

Nevertheless, as an international student, you can expect to face some minor or major difficulties when adjusting to the Finnish culture and diversity, which is completely normal. The important thing is to know how to deal with those challenges with the right mindset and strategy. Below are the most common challenges for international students in Finland:

Challenge 1: Get ready for the climate in Finland

Finland is a Nordic country, which can have a colder climate than your home country. The strong, stormy winters can give you a hard time both physically and psychologically. That’s why we suggest you prepare your body and mind for the Finnish climate. In fact, the cold climate has its merits in that there are the world’s most beautiful landscapes with lakes, mountains, and the Baltic Sea, all of which are even more beautiful in a snowy season.

Challenge 2: Language barrier

There are two official languages in Finland: Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is spoken by almost 87% of the population, which means a basic understanding of Finnish will be beneficial for international students in Finland. Luckily, nearly 70% of the Finnish locals can also speak English, so the language barrier is not as severe as you may think. Still, learning basic Finnish is important to make your stay more convenient.

Challenge 3: Socializing with the Finnish locals

Finnish people may seem unfriendly to international students at first glance, yet it is up to the international student to warm things up by showing interest in Finnish culture, customs, language, literature, and more. Once you break the cold brick on your way, you can enjoy the warmest friendships with the local community.

Challenge 4: High cost of living

The cost of living in Finland for students can be high, and it is usually due to the high taxes on services such as public transportation, amenities, and so on. It is extremely important to have enough savings before arriving in Finland to afford the expenses; in return, you can enjoy the top-quality public services in the world.

Challenge 5: Feeling homesick

It is always a challenge to feel homesick when you move abroad; it can be Finland or any other country. Emotional stability is very important for your studies in Finland, so keep in touch with your family members and friends in your home country whenever you feel lonely or down.

Can You Work in Finland After Graduation

Luckily, there are many employment opportunities for international students in Finland. The country accepts students from all over the world who can prove their skills and passion, and those with excellent qualifications can even have the opportunity to work in the country after graduation.

After graduating from a study program in Finland, international students can seek employment to obtain a residence permit to be able to work in the country. The Finnish Immigration Service allows Finnish work permits for students who graduated from Finnish universities with two options:

  • graduates who found a job in Finland,
  • graduates who haven’t found a job yet but need time to find or start a business

Popular jobs in demand in Finland are usually nurses, medical doctors, teachers, IT specialists, computer engineers, and so on. International graduates with the necessary qualifications can easily find a job to continue their stay in Finland. For job hunting, you can communicate with your faculty for suggestions, attend job fairs, or register as a job seeker on Finnish recruitment platforms.

Conclusion

Finland is a country with numerous opportunities and high standards of living. Medical and social services, entertainment, top-quality academics, safety, and economic strength are only some of the advantages Finland offers to international students. If you are determined, it is your time to find a study program in Finland now and try your chance.

 

We hope this article has provided all the information you need to know about studying in Finland. For more valuable tips and useful articles about the country, visit our Study in Finland page! Do also check out our Open Courses for available programs for international students!

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