In Finland the national strategy is based on a desire to develop the country as an information society that educates its citizens to a high standard. In order to achieve this, Finland channels substantial investment into research and development. In addition, Finland has internationally recognized expertise in many areas, and its institutions of higher education have state-of-the-art facilities.
If you are enrolled as a degree student in a Bachelor’s or Doctoral level programme, the higher education institution will not charge tuition fees.
Some Master’s level programs are free of charge as well, however, a number of them may carry tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students.
Finnish universities and polytechnics offer over 400 international study programmes in different disciplines taught in English. In 2005, some 9 000 foreign students representing more than 40 nationalities were studying for a degree in Finland, and of them approximately 4 500 were enrolled in universities. In addition, approximately 7 700 other students come to Finland every year either on exchange programmes or independently.
In 2005, the degree structure of Finnish universities was amended to become more compatible internationally. All programmes are based on a joint European credit transfer system (ECTS), which facilitates international transparency and recognition of Finnish degrees at a global level. As the network of Finnish universities and polytechnics covers the whole country, students can choose among very different study environments: there are large urban campuses and quieter, close-to-nature campuses. Thanks to the quality assurance system, the quality of universities’ infrastructures, student services, and teaching and research is high irrespective of location.
Studying in Finland offers also an insight into the culture of Finland and the country's two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, all of which are unique in many ways. Finnish society is egalitarian and well-organised: it provides a solid foundation for the development of modern, internationally-oriented higher education.
The university degree system has been undergoing reform since the early 1990s.
At present degree structures are evolving in line with the Bologna Declaration, and a new two-cycle Bachelor-Master structure is the prevalent model. The two-cycle degree system with the Bachelor’s and the Master’s was adopted by Finnish universities in all fields except medicine and dentistry in August 2005. At the same time the Finnish study credit system was replaced with the European ECTS credit system.
Continuing education centers at the universities provide professional education for university graduates as well as organise Open University instruction. Information about Open University courses in English. http://www.avoinyliopisto.fi/english/
The full-time studies for the lower degree (Bachelor) last three years, the extent of the degree being 180 credits. The studies for Master’s degree take two years after lower degree, the extent being 120 credits.
The first degree in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine is a master-level degree called Licentiate. The extent of these degrees varies from 200 to 250 credits and the programmes require approx. 6 years of full-time study. These degrees should not be confused with the licentiate in the other fields of study, i.e. the licentiate as a pre-doctoral degree.
Educational responsibility in different fields is regulated by field-specific degrees. The degrees are mostly lower or higher academic degrees, i.e. Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees (both are undergraduate degrees in Finland) or postgraduate degrees, i.e. Licentiate’s degree on some optional fields of study and Doctor’s degrees.
The operation of the Finnish university sector is based on the unity of research and instruction.
Doctoral studies (jatkokoulutus/påbyggnadsutbildning), in particular, are closely linked with the research work done at universities and international institutions. Licentiate (2 years) and Doctor’s (4 years) degrees are postgraduate degrees in Finland.
Students can start working for a doctorate as soon as they have obtained the Master's degree. In medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine licentiate is currently a master-level degree, after which doctoral studies can be commenced.
Research and the preparation of a substantial thesis are essential parts of the studies for Doctoral thesis. The doctoral thesis is published and must be defended in a public disputation.
In addition to research, Doctoral programmes include studies in the discipline and studies in the student's specific field of research. It is possible for a full-time student to complete a doctoral programme in four years after Master’s degree, but in practice the time spent is often longer. No time limit is set.
International students wishing to work for a doctoral thesis in Finland should contact the institution concerned or relevant department directly and make sure that their own field of specialisation is represented there.
The degrees usually consist of studies in one main - or major - subject (pääaine/huvudämne), and in one or more subsidiary - or minor - subjects (sivuaine/biämne).
Studies in a subject are composed of study units of various extent. They may contain several types of work: lectures and other instruction, exercises, essays or other independent work, set-book examinations, seminars, and so on. The units can be compulsory or optional, or of free-choice. In all programmes, it is possible to take extra courses in addition to what is required for the degree. Students increasingly do part of their studies at other universities in Finland or abroad.
The study units form larger entities at three levels: basic or introductory studies (perusopinnot /grundstudier), intermediate (subject) studies (aineopinnot/ämnesstudier) and advanced studies (syventävät opinnot/fördjupade studier). In basic and intermediate subject studies, students learn the fundamentals of the subject and academic research. In the advanced studies they go deeper into their subject and acquire the ability to find and apply scientific knowledge.
University education is divided into twenty fields of study, which are:
• Social sciences
• Educational sciences
• Natural sciences
• Agriculture and forestry
• Sport sciences
• Engineering and architecture
• Health sciences
• Veterinary medicine
• Art and design
• Fine arts
• Theatre and dance
For each field of study, there are statutes defining the objectives, overall structure and extent of the degrees. More explicit directions for the content and structure of the degrees are given in the degree regulations formulated by the institutions for their instruction. They also design their curricula and forms of instruction. The curricula are published in the study guides.
Joint educational objectives and university-specific performance targets are determined in the performance negotiations between universities and the Ministry of Education. Quantitative targets are set for higher academic (Master’s) and postgraduate degrees as well as adult education, for example. On the basis of these negotiations, universities decide on student intake in their fields of study and select their own students. They also draw up their own curricula and design their instruction within the framework of national statutes.
For more information www.studyinfinland.fi