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Education System in Finland: What Makes one of World’s Best in 2024?

Updated on 27 January, 2024

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

What vouches for education quality in a country? Perhaps its global standing. Finland is consistently ranked as one of the best countries in the world for education. In 2022, it was ranked first in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report for Education. The success of the education system in Finland has many reasons, including a strong focus on early childhood education, a well-trained and professional teaching force, and a focus on equity and inclusion.

Ranking 8th among the top 10 well-educated countries in 2023 by the World Population Review, let’s explore what makes Finland’s education model unique and how you can be a part of it.

Education System in Finland-Facts You Must Know

The Finland education system is based on the model of lifelong learning and equity in education. Learning is free and public-funded, from pre-primary to higher education. To bridge the equity gap, Finland schools also provide a free transportation system for students residing in remote areas. 

Responsibility and trust are two main pillars of the education system in Finland. The teachers are offered leeway to mold their classroom’s module as per the student's caliber and interests. During school time, students are only tested once during upper high school.

Finland Education Policy

Finland’s education policy is unique and the primary reason it is one of the best in the world. The Finnish education policy's main goal is to provide everyone with equal learning rights. It does so by offering free education, placing teachers with the highest qualifications, and giving them the autonomy to shape the student's educational life. 

The policy is shaped keeping lifelong learning in mind. This fosters an environment of discipline & trust between the teachers and the community. As a part of their undergraduate and master’s education, students are encouraged to work on collaborative projects with their peers to shape their professional demeanor. 

These points make higher education in Finland a dream come true for many students!

Higher Education in Finland

Higher education in Finland is bifurcated into 2 sections:

  • Regular Universities

Under these universities, students complete their artistic & higher scientific degrees and later opt for postgraduate degrees. A Bachelor’s degree takes 3 years at these universities, and an MS in Finland takes 2 years.

  • Universities of Applied Science

Students who pursue higher education at the Universities of Applied Sciences get a UAS Bachelor’s degree and a UAS Master’s degree. 

These degrees by the Universities of Applied Sciences typically take 3.5 and 4.5 years to complete. Students who wish to pursue a UAS Master’s degree at these universities must complete their bachelor’s degree or any other appropriate degree along with 3 years of relevant work experience in their desired field.

How Much Does Studying in Finland Schools Cost?

Education in Finland is free for EU/EEA students. But if you are a student moving from outside these regions, you might need to consider two aspects of costs.

  • Tuition and Student Fee
  • Living Expenses

The tuition fee is the fee you will pay for your higher education in Finland. Students pay between EUR 4,000 to EUR 18,000 for their tuition in Finland. There is no fee charged to doctoral students, regardless of their nationality. 

Apart from this, students need to pay an annual union fee of EUR 50, depending on their regular university. This membership is optional at UAS. A student union card helps students avail discounts at student restaurants and public transportation.

Living expenses are somewhere between EUR 700 to EUR 900. This covers students' rent, food, travel, and other expenses. The living expense amount may vary as per the location.

Financial Support for International Students in Finland

Students that pay tuition fees in Finland are eligible for financial support. For eligibility, you must:

  • Be studying on a full-time basis for a minimum of 2 months
  • Require financial assistance
  • Have the necessary academic progress

Academic Sessions in Finland- When Can Students be Admitted

The academic session in Finland is divided into two parts: Autumn and Spring intake. 

Many exchange students and international students are also offered a chance to study within the same academic year at some universities like the University of Helsinki. 

International Student’s Guide to Finland

Finland offers high-quality education, student-centric support, and academic freedom, making it the perfect spot for international students. Finland’s universities and teachers are student-centric and there to boost your learning. 

With over 35 universities and UAS to choose from, Finland is ready to become a paradise for all international students. Choose the program that is right for you and start your educational journey in one of the top education hubs around the world.

Top Universities to Study in Finland

Here are some top universities in Finland for international students.

University Name

Student/Faculty Ratio

QS 2023 Ranking

University of Helsinki 

8

106

University of Tampere 

 

15

Not Mentioned

University of Oulu 

 

11

672

University of Eastern Finland 

 

10

551

Aalto University 

9

116

Student Visa for Finland

You may need a student visa or residential visa in Finland under 3 conditions:

  • Your education needs more than 90 days
  • If you are from an EU Member State and want to complete partial education
  • You have come to Finland to undertake postgraduate studies 

If you enter Finland to complete a higher education degree like an undergraduate or master's degree, you can be granted an A permit or a continuous residence permit. 

Your residential request will be accepted once you:

  • Get accepted as a student in a higher education institute where your education leads to a degree
  • You participate in a student exchange program between two state-recognized institution

Conclusion

In 2024, the Finnish education system continues to be lauded as one of the best globally, a status it has maintained and evolved over the years. This acclaim stems from its unique approach that emphasizes equality, student well-being, and a less-is-more philosophy. Unlike many education systems, Finland places a strong emphasis on play and creativity, ensuring that formal schooling starts at a later age. This approach fosters a love for learning, with children entering school life eager and ready.

Moreover, the Finnish system is characterized by highly qualified teachers who are given the autonomy to tailor their teaching methods to their students' needs. With a master's degree as a minimum requirement for educators, there's a high level of trust and respect for teachers, akin to the regard for doctors and lawyers. The curriculum focuses on holistic education and critical thinking rather than rote learning and standardized testing, ensuring that students are not just academically proficient but also equipped with life skills.

Furthermore, the Finnish education system is inclusive and egalitarian. There are no private schools or tuition fees, even at the university level, ensuring equal access to quality education regardless of a family's socio-economic background. This egalitarian approach extends to the absence of school rankings, which fosters collaboration instead of competition among schools.

In 2024, Finland's continued investment in education research and innovation, coupled with its commitment to teacher autonomy, student well-being, and equality, keeps it at the forefront of educational excellence. This progressive and student-centered approach to education not only garners academic success but also cultivates a society that values learning, creativity, and mutual respect.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the pros and cons of Finland's education system?

The high standards for teachers, emphasis on student-centric education, caliber-based course structure, scholarship options, high-quality living, and cultural & social life are some pros that make Finland an ideal place for international students. Some cons are its cold winters and the language barrier some students face. Although English is Finland’s second language, students can communicate relatively easily.

Is education the best in Finland?

Yes. Finland’s forward-thinking teaching and flexible education pathways make it one of the best education systems. It ranks 8th among the top 10 well-educated countries in 2023 by the World Population Review. 

Can I study in Finland for free?

Education is free if you are a student from an EU/EEA country. International students of other nationalities will have to bear tuition fees of anywhere between EUR 4,000 to EUR 18,000. However, all PhD programs have no tuition fee, irrespective of the candidate’s nationality.

Is it easy to get PR?

Permanent residence is considered after you have lived in Finland continuously on a residence permit for four years. Additionally, you must have proof of employment after your graduation. 

Do I need IELTS to study in Finland?

The university could ask you to provide official proof of your English competence if it's not your first language. IELTS and TOEFL are the most accepted English language proficiency tests.  You can get advice on the university's English proficiency exam requirements and any potential exemption policies from the institution you are applying to.

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

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