Every year the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network publishes the World Happiness Report in which Finland consistently ranks as the number one country in terms of overall happiness in the last four years. The report takes into account a range of factors to determine its results and includes levels of corruption, state of affairs, observance of personal freedoms, and social security benefits – and Finland ranks highly on all of these. So, imagine what it would be like to be a student in a country like this?
The international community in Finland is diverse and successful. The country’s universities are top-notch and offer exemplary academic courses and work opportunities. Honestly, Finland is a peak Nordic experience, and all you need to do is to make up your mind about it. Also, in case you need some help, I have a few tips to help you understand what you need to know about living here as an international student.
Finnish Higher Education System
I will give you a brief overview of what is in store for you in the Finnish Higher Education System. In the country, there are two categories of higher education institutions. These are either Universities or Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS). There are restrictions on the latter so far as certain degree programs such as the Ph.D. All in all, there are 13 universities all of which are state-run. On the other side, UAS is under the jurisdiction of local government bodies and private entities. In case you are from the European Union (EU), you will be relieved to know that Finland is part of the European Credit Transfer System.
The financial burden on international students is quite immense, and the Nordic countries are known to be expensive. So, I understand your apprehensions about the Finnish Higher Education System. Whether or not you find education here costly depends on where you are coming from and your own socio-economic background. However, I will give a general idea. Those who come from the EU/ European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland are exempted from the payment of tuition fees. Others are required to pay the fees provided they are not enrolled in Ph.D. programs. Note that each institution here offers some or the other form of scholarship opportunities so keep a watch!
You cannot strategize your life in Finland and manage finances smartly unless you know how things work here. It is necessary that you apprise yourself of the overall costs of living in Finland. Being a Nordic country, it is expectedly expensive but that does not mean there aren’t ample options to optimize expenses. Housing, for example, is plenty and affordable student accommodation is quite common. You can even work as many as 25 hours a week to supplement your budgetary needs. Food can end up being a costly affair unless you decide to do something about it: reduce your intake of fast food, avail of discounts in supermarket stores, and get a flatmate in case you are living in a flat.
One of the major concerns for an international student is whether the mode of instruction in institutions is accessible. Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, and many universities administer their courses in the former. That being said, you can easily find numerous courses that are administered in English. Even locals know English quite well so you need not worry about communication. Still, I always recommend learning the local language(s) as it encourages easier assimilation into society. You should check whether your institution offers language learning courses as there is a high likelihood that it does.
Well, there is a lot to read on the application process. But, a few pointers on the process should be enough to give you a general idea. Your institution will ask you to submit certain documents including copies of your academic qualification all translated into Finnish, Swedish, or English. In case you are not a native speaker of English, then you might be asked to submit proficiency proofs.
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