Finland is world-leading by many measures, whether that’s the World Economic Forum’s measure of critical thinking in education, or its number of saunas per capita. Finnish people are repeatedly found to be the happiest in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. You can speculate why - maybe it’s because of the beautiful scenery, modern education system, or the chance to bump into Santa! To help you understand the country, we’ve put together this guide.
Enthusiasm for education
Finnish society puts a particular value on life-long learning. So much so that students have a legal right to influence the Finnish education system set out in the country’s legislation! This enthusiasm for education is seen in the way that critical thinking and flexible learning is encouraged at Finland’s universities. And in the way that eight of the country’s universities make it into the top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Tuition is free for students from EU and EEA countries, making Finland's world leading education very accessible. International students from outside the EU are not eligible for free tuition, with fees ranging 5,000-15,000 EUR per year, but there are many opportunities for scholarships to help with this cost.
Languages to learn
Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn a new language. In Finland, there are many to choose from! Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of the country, however, a number of Finnish people also speak fluent English and Russian. Universities have an international outlook and often offer language classes alongside students’ degree programmes. You’ll find adult language classes in your local area and online, allowing you to brush up on your Finnish and Swedish for day-to-day life. Libraries across Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa even offer ‘language cafes’ where you can practice speaking with other members over coffee.
Modernity and safety
Off-campus, you’ll find that Finland is exceptional in many other areas of life. The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Report ranked the country 11th overall because of its innovation, environmental focus, and growth. Finland is very well-prepared to become entirely reliant on sustainable resources compared to most countries. And it ranks most highly in the funding and support given to small and medium sized businesses, making it an ideal place for entrepreneurs and graduates.
In addition to strong economic growth, Finland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. It’s even rated number one for safety in the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Travel and Tourism Report. Even though moving to Finland to study might not be your first time abroad, you’ll still find it comforting to know you’ll be secure in your day-to-day student life.
Extraordinary landscapes and climate
Exploring outdoors in Finland is the perfect break from studying. It’s known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’, with 188,000 lakes in total and the highest number of forests in Europe. You won’t need to go far to catch some fresh air either, as Helsinki ranks 2nd most clean capital on the Numbeo World Pollution Index 2021.
Finland has distinct seasons with contrasting weather. Summers are bright, with almost unending daylight for 70 days each year. This gives you the chance to visit the Midnight Sun Film Festival to watch continuous movie screenings, or listen to live music at the Kalottjazz and Blues Festival all through the day. Winters are icy cold though, with temperatures as low as -20°C and darkness for much of the day. At this time of year, Rovaniemi is well-known for its Santa Claus Village and northern lights tours. Or if you’re studying in the south, you can warm up in Helsinki’s Ateneum Art Museum and the city’s hipster coffee shops.
Diverse culture to explore
Finland’s culture shares many values with its neighbouring Scandinavian countries, like equality and a strong social welfare system. Its history originates in Asia though, and it shares linguistic roots with Hungary and Estonia. University students in Finland get large discounts on museums, galleries, and theatres, so you’ll be able to learn all about the country’s history. You could visit the sprawling Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki’s harbour, or take a tour of Turku Castle, built in the 1200s.
And when you try the local food, you’ll be able to taste the mix of Swedish and Russian influences too. Despite fresh fish and meat often taking centre stage on menus, many Finnish people are vegetarian and vegan, so there are restaurants to suit all preferences. During a coffee break from studying, you’ll also be able to enjoy ‘pulla’ sweet breads flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon. Delicious!
If you’re already imagining yourself at university in Finland, read Unifrog’s guide, Student life in Finland to find out exactly what it’s like.