Over 5 million students choose to study abroad – that is double the amount of students than 10 years ago. However, international students are constantly facing new challenges. For example, in 2017, Finland started charging tuition fees from students outside EU/ETA. This might affect many students’ decision to study in Finland. Despite this, Finland’s popularity as a study destination is rising. We learned why students choose Finland for their higher education option.
Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences had 21 061 international students in 2016. 4 396 students answered the International Student Barometer made in 2017, and 81% of those students were from outside EU/ETA.
It is a long read so we wanted to save you the trouble and share the most important and interesting points of the report.
High-quality yet affordable education
International students usually have certain expectations for their future study destination. Finland fills many of those requirements according to the study. For example, Finnish education is high-quality and studying in Finland is relatively affordable. Study materials are often free because many of the books can be found online these days. Even though some international students have to pay tuition fees, it is still cheaper than in many other European countries.
95% of the surveyed students thought that the content of the education is important or very important. Similarly, 94% said that the quality of research and costs of the education were either important or very important. The majority of the students felt that it is important that the school is well-known worldwide. Students didn’t really care if the university is near their home countries; only 27% answered that it’s important or very important.
Students from non-EU countries emphasized the financial side. Opportunity for grants, tuition fee exemptions and the possibility to have a job while studying were important. The cost of studies, on the other hand, weighed just as much to all international students who choose Finland.
Helpful orientation and welcome services
When arriving in Finland, you might want help with finding a place to live, settling into the city you’re staying in and support in starting your studies.
87-92% of the international students were satisfied with the services and orientation of the universities in Finland. Orientations usually include meeting the academic staff, registration, official welcoming ceremony and overall orientation to the system and services.
Good study environment with highly-qualified teachers
Student apartments are not always the best place to focus on studying. Universities should offer students a calm place to focus throughout their studies. Staff should be also helpful towards whatever issue students face during studies.
International students seemed happy with the facilities and learning environments offered. Almost 100% felt happy about Finnish libraries, laboratories, classrooms and online learning platforms.
Teachers get credit for having good English language skills and high level of expertise. Group sizes pleased 94% of the students and the possibilities to study in a multinational group pleased 92%. Assessment of tasks was experienced to be fair and reasonable by more than 90% of the students.
Good quality of life for all of Finland’s residents
Finland is a safe country and it is great to know that international students feel the same. 90% were satisfied with the quality of life in Finland.
Available support and career services
Finnish universities always offer many services, for example, student cafeterias provide fairly priced meals for students. They also have IT support, healthcare services, student organizations and student housing services. According to the study, 92% use the student cafeterias and 72% have used IT services. Universities offer also career services, but only 18% of the international students have used that service.
Job opportunities after graduation
Over 50% of the students plan to stay in Finland after graduating. Out of that 50 %, 23% want to stay in Finland for a longer time to work. Unfortunately, students find it difficult to receive support in finding a job; only 55% were happy with career advice from teachers. 14% of the students would like to continue to postgraduate studies in their current university and 9% planned to stay and work in Finland for under 2 years.
Room for growth – some areas to improve
Even though Finland scored well in the study, there’s always room for improvement. Career services is among the biggest issues. International students still have a hard time finding a job in Finland, even though Finland has made efforts to solve this issue.
Finding a friend among the local people can also prove to be tricky. International students group up mostly with each other and do not connect with Finnish students. International student events and courses with students from many nationalities including Finnish, could provide a feasible solution. Finnish people might be slow to warm up, but once you have made friends with them, it is for life.
Although Finland has some things to improve on, 83% international students would recommend studies in Finland, according to the International Student Barometer 2017.