Studying in Finland

Why study in Finland?

Finland is known for thinking outside the box when it comes to education.

  • Children don’t start formal schooling until the comparatively late age of 7 and homework and exams are limited until the later stages of education.
  • Despite this, the country’s students consistently score highly in terms of their reading, writing and science skills when compared with international peers.
  • English language skills are introduced to the curriculum early, so Finland is an easy country for non-native speakers to live in.

Finland has 10 multidisciplinary universities, along with six universities that specialise in particular disciplines. There are also a number of universities of applied sciences, or polytechnics, which offer vocational training.

There are around 550 English language courses taught at Finnish higher education institutions, ranging from short courses that form part of exchange programmes to full degree courses.

  • English language courses are more common at universities of applied sciences and polytechnics and only a small number of courses at bachelor’s degree level are available at general universities. A database of English courses can be found here.
  • Around 12,000 foreign students are studying in Finland at any one time — just under half of these are exchange students who come for just one term, while the rest are students that have independently applied to study full degrees in the country.

Entry and visa regulations

EU students do not need a visa to study in Finland.

  • All foreign students need to register their residence with the police within three months of their stay.
  • To apply for a place at a university of applied sciences or a polytechnic, you should apply using the centralised admissions system. Applications for the academic year beginning September 2013 have now closed — generally prospective students need to apply around one year in advance.
  • For universities, the application periods vary, but usually begin around November and close between February and April. There are two ways to apply: directly to the university and via University Admissions. You’ll need to contact the university you wish to attend directly to check their preferred method and closing date.

Funding your study

Tuition is free for EU students studying bachelor’s and master’s level programmes.

  • Although grants and loans — provided by both the government and banks — for the cost of living are available to Finnish students, these are not normally accessible to foreign students unless they have been living in the country for two years prior to beginning study.
  • It is common for university students to work during term time and during the summer months and there are no restrictions on the number of hours EU students are allowed to work while studying. But competition for jobs is high and finding work without either Finnish or Swedish language skills can be difficult. There is no minimum wage in Finland and salaries are set for various industries based on negotiations between employer and employee trade unions.

Student housing

Accommodation is usually arranged through student housing foundations, although some universities do offer housing services so it’s worth checking with your institution in the first instance.

  • Demand is predictably high around August so register your interest early, preferably as soon as you have your offer from a university.
  • The cost of a single room in a shared apartment is fairly reasonable when compared with some other European cities, with Finnish Student Housing Limited statistics putting the cost at between €160 and €340 per month in 2010.
  • The cost of living in Finland is similar to other European countries and when issuing student residence permits for non-EU students, the government requires evidence of access to at least €500 per month from students. Although this isn’t necessary for EU students, it provides a rough guide of the minimum needed to get by in the country.

Some typical costs in Finland (GBP, March 2015) include:

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £338 - £439 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £ 7.12
  • Meal at McDonalds: £4.98
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £3.56
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £3.56
  • Cappuccino: £2.18
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £1.50
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £1.04
  • Loaf of bread: £1.46
  • Cigarettes: £3.98
  • One-way ticket local transport: £2.13
  • Cinema ticket: £8.54


Health and safety

  • Finland is generally considered a very safe country to live in, although the country has a high violent crime rate in comparison to other Western European countries, particularly when it comes to homicide.
  • Finland has both public and private healthcare systems and EU students can access the former in the same way as local residents using their European Health Insurance Card. Although public healthcare is state-funded, there is usually a small charge for accessing services, which varies depending on the region. Typically, a visit to a GP will cost between €15 and €30, depending on what treatments/tests are needed.

Helpful links

International Rankings

University Rankings 2018–19

University QS
QS World University Rankings 2018–19

Global university rankings compiled annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). QS ranks institutions by the following key indicators; academic peer review, faculty student ratio, citations per faculty, recruiter review, international orientation.

See the QS World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

THE World University Rankings 2018–19

Global university rankings compiled annually by the Times Higher Education (THE). THE ranks institutions by performance in the following categories; Industry Income, Teaching, Research and Citations.

See THE World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

University of Helsinki - 99

Business School Rankings 2019

Business School Financial Times
Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2019

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by the Financial Times. MBA programmes are ranked by a number of key indicators including salary increase, value for money, career progression. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

The Economist
The Economist Which MBA? Ranking 2018

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by The Economist. MBA programmes are ranked by the following categories; career opportunities, personal development, salary increase and potential to network. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

More about the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation here.

Association of MBA

More about the Association of MBA (AMBA) accreditation here.

European Quality Improvement System

More about the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation here.

University of St. Gallen 69 92 Y Y