Finland has been rated the very best country in the world to be educated in, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment, but this high praise is just the start. Finland has a diverse, interesting culture and society, and education here is a priority above all else. Finland has the highest rate of students choosing to take further education in the world, and its unusual education system has been the model for many other systems in the world.
All teachers in Finland must – must – have a Master’s degree, which is entirely state funded, and teachers are only selected from the top 10% of graduates. Education here is so important that teachers are treated with the same respect and slight reverence as doctors in other countries.
It’s to be expected, then, that the Finnish higher education system is one of the most successful in the world, and it attracts an enormous amount of international attention, with 14,000 international students flocking there to get a degree in 2009. Here’s the very best bit: most higher education in Finland is completely government subsidised. This means there’s absolutely no tuition fee costs for the majority of students.
So, there are the reasons. Studying in Finland will be exciting, educational, and very well supported by the government, the university and the people. And at the end of it all, you’ll get an excellent and very well-respected degree when you… Finnish. We’re sorry. We had to.
Finland is a beautiful and exciting country, that doesn’t get the attention from tourists and from the world stage that it deserves. This is the land of fairy tale goblins, trolls and walking trees, where the cold and the north still very much command respect and excitement.
One of the most interesting features of Finland is its weather – it’s far enough north for the days during summer to be very, very long; with up to 19 hours of sunlight. This drops to a tiny 6 hours in the middle of winter, and, of course, varies in between a fair amount. In winter it also gets incredibly cold, with temperatures reaching lows of up to -20 degrees Celsius. This just adds to the mystery and romanticism of the country, and makes walking through campus a very exciting affair for most foreign students, who haven’t worked out how to balance on ice properly yet.
Although Finland doesn’t attract the tourism it deserves, there are still a few clever souls who make their way to the attractions in the cities and in the country. These include incredibly beautiful natural sights – none of which can be mentioned without offending another. Finland’s packed full of so much natural beauty that a ten minute drive outside of town will already begin to excite and inspire even the most hungover arts major.
The man made sights in Finland aren’t quite as impressive, but they’re still well worth marvelling at. Enormous construction projects started during Russian occupation of the country still stand, but the most exciting of these isn’t still standing, strictly speaking. Bomarsund was heavily damaged before completion by British forces during the Crimean War, and the towers here are still scarred from the bombardment. This place, like the rest of Finland, has a beautiful and romantic atmosphere to it, and is not to be missed by anyone intending to spend time in Finland.
Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is effortlessly cool; and is a beautiful, cold and watery place, with a lot of exciting attractions and sights. What tends to stick with everybody the most though, is how quirky and fun it is, and what a different impression it gives to the rest of the country. Helsinki should be visited – if not lived in – at all costs. It’s perhaps the only man-made place in Finland that can impress as much as the wilds can.
The main attraction of Finland is both man-made and wild, though. The Finns are by themselves a wonderful reason to visit the country, being as they are incredibly welcoming, friendly and charming. The Finns are some of the most hospitable people on the Earth, and if you choose to study in Finland, make it a priority to make some local friends – these people really are wonderfully good company.
The food in Finland is still a mystery to foreigners, and we encourage you to make your own discoveries on that front. Expect strong, salty pickled fish, along with excellent bread and delicious beer.
Here’s the very best bit. It’s free. Yes! Free! The Finnish education system, as discussed above, is a priority above all else, and all Finnish students enjoy entirely subsidised tuition fees when studying here. This generally extends to all students inside the EU, too; and most students from outside it. It’s truly astonishing, and puts Finland right up there as one of the best places to get a degree in the world.
There are a few – genuinely just a few – exceptions to the rule of a free Finnish education. Some courses that are taught in English as opposed to Finnish still charge students, and the prices can vary enormously, with tuition fees ranging from 2500 to 12,000 euros a year. It really does depend on the university and course. If you are intending to take a course in English though, don’t despair! Most English-taught courses are still free; only a handful of generally specialist courses charge tuition fees. Check with the universities you apply to, and they’ll be able to steer you in the right direction.
It’s very easy to live in Finland with a very small budget – markets with local produce are common here, and a weekly shop can cost as little as a few euros if it’s done very carefully and outside of the city, in the smaller towns and villages. In the city, though, it’s a different story, with rent and food prices at very high rates. This isn’t a bad thing in itself – although it does cost a lot of money to live in the cities, this is made up for in the average wage for an urban Finn or student, which is much higher than the European average and should be able to support living costs nicely if you have enough time to work outside of studying.
Besides, even if living in the cities does cost a lot, it is unlikely that all of your money is going to be spent on tuition fees, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. The Finnish government also offers maintenance loans to some international students who apply here; check with the universities you apply to and see if they’ll be able to help you get the financial support you might need.
The visa international students need to enter a Finnish university is known as the student resident permit application, and will generally be available at the Finnish embassy in your country. They should be able to help you with the application, but as with most of these documents, you’ll need a variety of paperwork to complete the form, such as proof of financial support, proof of accommodation, your passport, and a letter of acceptance from your university.
Generally your university will help you through the visa application process and will explain what you have to do and bring in detail. The embassy should also be helpful – make sure to contact them first to book an appointment and get the full list of what you’ll need to successfully complete the visa application.
The student visa in Finland must be renewed each year, and that can be done very easily at your local police station without too much fuss – worry about that later.
Finnish is the language spoken in Finland, strangely enough, and the Finns themselves tend to be very quiet when they talk in any language. This isn’t rude, it’s just the culture here; so don’t be offended when a Finn only responds to you very quietly. English is spoken by all but the very old and the very young, and you should have no problems getting around the place with no command of Finnish, although if you’re intending on living and studying here for a few years, it may well be worth picking up a few choice words and phrases.
The university courses are taught in both English and Finnish, and both are taught incredibly well. Bare in mind, though, as discussed above, that an English-taught course may well have tuition fees, whilst a Finnish one absolutely will not. Check with the universities you’re applying for whether or not they charge for the English course, and make sure to check how much before you hang up! Sometimes the charges can be a purely symbolic 10 to 200 euros a year or term.
To find out more about studying in Finland visit the official site.
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