Basic Information about Finland
Finland is situated in northern Europe. It borders Russia in the east, the Gulf of Finland in the south, the Gulf of Bothnia and Sweden in the west and Norway in the north. The capital is Helsinki. The population of the country is 5.3 million. The official languages are Finnish and Swedish with 94% of the population speaking Finnish and 6% Swedish.
Finland is a welfare state with the aim of securing for its inhabitants equal opportunities for a good life and for the most efficient use of its resources as possible. The geopolitical location between West and East has always been reflected in the country’s events and goings on. With this combination of western and eastern influences, Finnish culture has developed into something strong and highly individual.
Higher Education System in Finland
The Finnish education system is composed of nine-year basic education (comprehensive school), preceded by one year of voluntary pre-primary education; upper secondary education, comprising vocational and general education; and higher education, provided by universities and polytechnics. Adult education is available at all levels.
In Finland, pre-primary education, basic education and upper secondary education and training, complemented by early childhood education and before- and after-school activities, form a coherent learning pathway that supports children’s growth, development and well-being.
Students’ opportunities to progress from one level of education to the next is safeguarded by legislation. Both general and vocational upper secondary certificates provide eligibility for further studies in universities and polytechnics. A student completing one level is always eligible for the next level studies. The qualifications of each level are governed by a separate Act of Parliament. This assures harmonized qualifications and their quality and guarantees students’ rights.
Basic education is free general education provided for the whole age group. Upper secondary education consists of general education and vocational education and training (vocational qualifications and further and specialist qualifications).
The higher education system comprises universities and polytechnics, in which the admission requirement is a secondary general or vocational diploma.
Universities, which are academic or artistic institutions, focus on research and education based on research. They confer Bachelor’s, Master’s, licentiate and doctoral degrees.
Polytechnics offer work-related education in response to labour market needs. A polytechnic degree requires 3.5 – 4.5 years of full-time study. The requirement for polytechnic Master’s programmes is a polytechnic degree or equivalent, plus a minimum of three years of work experience in the field concerned.
Adult education is provided at all levels of education. Adults can study for a general education certificate or for a vocational qualification, or modules included in them, take other courses developing citizenship and work skills, or pursue recreational studies.
The welfare of Finnish society is built on education, culture and knowledge. All children are guaranteed opportunities for study and self-development according to their abilities, irrespective of their place of residence, language or financial status. All pupils are entitled to competent and high-quality education and guidance and to a safe learning environment and well-being. The flexible education system and basic educational security make for equity and consistency in results.
The Centre for International Mobility CIMO, an organization which operates under the Finnish Ministry of Education, offers services to encourage cross-cultural communication. CIMO administers scholarship and exchange programmes, and offers information, advisory services and publications. In addition, CIMO promotes teaching of the Finnish language and culture, and arranges summer courses in the Finnish language and culture for international students. There are various opportunities for students to study in Finland.
CIMO scholarships are mainly targeted for postgraduate students who have completed their Master-level studies. There are two types of scholarships: individual scholarships, which young researchers apply for themselves and host fellowships, which are applied by the Finnish higher education departments willing to host researchers and postgraduates. It should be noted that, in Finland, Master’s programmes are not considered postgraduate studies. CIMO’s undergraduate scholarships promote advanced studies of the Finnish language. Below is a list of scholarships offered by CIMO:
- Finnish Studies and Research/Scholarships for Advanced Studies of the Finnish Language at Finnish Universities
- Exchange Programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Asia-Link and Freemovers)
- CIMO Fellowships
- Finnish Studies and Research/Scholarships for Postgraduate Studies and Research at Finnish Universities
If you are interested in studying in Finland and if you are looking for financial support, we strongly recommend that you reach our counselor who would assist you to find all the information on available scholarships (section Study & Research in Finland). Our aim is to make it easier for those interested in studying in Finland as well as those providing assistance and advice in ESC’s office to find details of existing grant programmes and to guarantee that the information about these programmes is always up to date.