Stunning natural beauty and laid-back cities, a strong focus on research and innovation, a good selection of world-class universities, and a commitment to providing free higher education… It’s easy to see why many international students choose to study in Finland.
Finland is located in the far north of Europe, between its neighbors Sweden and Russia. The main language is Finnish; Swedish is also an official language thanks to a Swedish minority, the result of 600 years as part of the Swedish Empire. Helsinki, the capital, is by far the largest city in Finland. Other major cities include Espoo, Tampere, and Turku.
Following the alignment of European education systems as part of the Bologna reform, many Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences have increased the number of bachelor’s and master’s programs in English.
Finland has about 40 higher education institutions, which are commonly classified as universities (classical research and teaching institutions) or polytechnics, sometimes called universities of applied sciences (with a more practice-oriented approach to teaching). There are just over 300,000 students at polytechnics and universities in Finland, of whom around 20,000 are international students.
For EU/EEA students, most academic degree programs are free. Tuition fees may apply to applicants from other countries and vary from school to school.
Is it free to study in Finland?
Tuition was completely free for all students, regardless of where they came from and their course of study. If you choose to study in your local language, you may be considered for a tuition waiver.
These programs now charge inexpensive amount of tuition fees to non-European international students. But doctoral programs are still completely free for all foreigners in Finland.
How to attend university for free in Finland
Finland, among its Scandinavian neighbors, is known for providing its inhabitants with an excellent quality of life. It is also listed in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) as one of the best-performing developing countries.
In contrast to many other European or Western countries, such as the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, Finland’s lower costs of living are also a big draw. It is the lower tuition fees that make Finland a great place for international and EU students to get a quality education and experience a new country and community where students can study for free or at a slightly lower cost than in other countries. In this article, we will explore ways to search for free in Finland.
Fortunately for students from all over the world, you can study and attend school in Finland for free or for very little money, whether you want to pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. You can attend school for free in Finland if you are a resident of the EU (European Union), the EEA (European Economic Area), or Switzerland.
If you are an international student, although unfortunately as of 2017 Finland no longer offers free tuition, you can still apply for scholarships. Some university scholarships will fully cover the cost of tuition under Study EU, while others may offer up to a 50% discount.
There are different fees for each institution, so check their official websites to see what their fees are, international student programs, and scholarship options.
It is also important to note that you are always expected to pay your own living expenses and food coverage, even if tuition costs are covered. Student union dues ranging from 80 to 100 euros may also have to be collected.
How To Apply For Admission In Finland
You must first apply to universities in Finland to study Finland for free. Using the Degree Finder is a perfect way to do this while you find out what degree you want to pursue, which you can find on the official websites of many institutions. The University of Helsinki, for example, has one that you can access here.
The next step is to review the academic qualifications and requirements to apply for the degree or program of your choice. Check the official website of the university in case of doubt, where there is usually a “Contact” section to speak directly with the university.
The academic year generally begins in September for the fall semester and in January for the winter/spring semester, with enrollment periods generally beginning in November prior to the start of the year. Remember to check with the university of your choice to confirm the submission deadlines.
In order not to be afraid of non-Finnish speakers, several universities offer English courses. Often in Finland or elsewhere, you are expected to take an entrance exam in English. The evaluation is IELTS or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) (International English Language Testing System).
Be sure to apply for a student residence permit or short-term visa if you are admitted to the school of your choice. Short-term visas are only available if your studies are 90 days or less, but if you are applying for long-term education, residence permits are valid for two years and are required. For more information on visas, see the Finnish Immigration Service website.
Apply for Finland scholarships
Unfortunately, if you are not indigenous to the EU or EEA, it is difficult to escape the tuition fees. International fees apply, but don’t worry, you can apply for several scholarships online so you can study in Finland for free. To apply for scholarships, go directly to college websites to see which scholarships you are eligible for.
For example, on the website of the University of Helsinki, whether you are a non-EU/EEA member or a Swiss citizen, a step-by-step guide to applying for scholarships is provided.
They clearly specify on their website that your scholarship application can be exactly the same as your master’s application for a master’s program.
Please note that scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit most of the time. According to your degree or application to the program, scholarships are usually requested.
Tuition-Free Universities in Finland for International Students
- The University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH
- Åland Polytechnic
- University of Applied Sciences
- Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences
- Diaconia University of Applied Sciences
- EVTEK University of Applied Sciences
- HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences
- Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences
- North Karelia University of Applied Sciences
- Oulu Polytechnic – University of Applied Sciences
- Pirkanmaa Polytechnic – University of Applied Sciences
- Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences
- Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
- Savonia University of Applied Sciences
- Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences (SeAMK)
- South Carelia Polytechnic
- Sydväst Polytechnic
- HAMK University of Applied Sciences
- Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia
- HUMAK University of Applied Sciences
- Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences
- Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
- University of Vaasa
- Helsinki University of Technology
- Lappeenranta University of Technology
- Tampere University of Technology
- Hanken Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration
Is Finland free for international students?
They are all tuition-free for students coming from EU/EEA countries and Switzerland. Non-EU/EEA students enrolling in English-taught degrees are required to pay tuition fees. Still, study programs taught in Finnish or Swedish are free for all international students.