by Robert S. Balan
For many years, people have been admiring Finland’s education system and its students, who are constantly among the best in the international tests. If you’re reading this, you’re probably also interested in studying a Master’s degree in the beautiful country of Finland. But how do you know if this destination will work out for you?
There are many reasons why you should study abroad in Finland, but we will only focus on some of the most relevant ones, to help you decide. Before diving into it, you may be interested in some of the most popular subjects taught at universities in Finland:
- Engineering & Technology
- Business & Management
- Computer Science & IT
- Natural Sciences & Mathematics
- Education & Training
1. It’s free for most students
The Finns do not require any tuition fees for studying at their public universities. This applies to all levels of education, from primary to secondary and higher education as well. Education is seen as a basic right in Finland, and they believe everybody should have equal opportunities. If you’re interested in a free Master’s degree, there are many options you can choose from.
However, since 2017, this only applies to students from the EU/EEA and Switzerland. If you are an international student from a different country, you will most likely be required to pay a tuition fee. There is no reason to panic, though, because there are many scholarships in Finland you can apply for.
Additionally, you can join a student union. Normally, there is an annual membership fee, between 80-100 EUR, but you’ll get a student card that offers you various discounts for restaurants and public transport.
2. The best education you can get
The education system in Finland receives praise all over the world. An obvious characteristic setting the Finnish education apart is the distinct set of values it uses. This high-quality system doesn’t rely only on laws, fees and well-prepared teachers, but especially on the mentality and principles on which it was built. Some of the most important core values upheld by Finnish universities include equality, responsibility, cooperation and adaptability.
Teachers at universities in Finland believe students should learn important, practical things which they can actually make use of in their lives. Ironically, by focusing on cooperation, rather than competition, students actually score high on international tests. This proves that it’s not a numbers’ game or a results-driven system. The focus is on the whole process of education and implementing things that work efficiently.
3. An innovative teaching style
Another way the Finnish education system differentiates itself from others is by recognising the need for interdisciplinary skills in the modern world, rather than encouraging students to specialise on a single discipline.
They have implemented a new approach called phenomenon-based teaching. It moves away from traditional subjects (e.g. mathematics, languages, biology) and uses students’ curiosity to talk about relevant current issues (such as global warming, inequality, the European Union, etc.).
This encourages students to think critically and offers them the chance to be involved in planning the phenomenon-based study periods (every school needs to have at least one throughout the year). They will also be part of the evaluation, analysing what they’ve learned from it. All in all, it tightens the relationship between teachers and students and encourages students to become even more active in shaping their educational experience.
4. Finland is a great country to live in
Finland is the perfect example of how a country with a (relatively) small population can become an inspiring example. It is one of the safest countries in the world, with very low crime rates.
The quality of life is excellent, and you’ll also be happy to know that Finnish people are honest, and they respect each other’s property. 11 out of 12 intentionally “lost” wallets were returned during a test organised by the Reader Digest in Helsinki. You should also know that living costs vary a lot depending on the city in which you live, so be sure to check and adjust your budget.
If you find yourself in Pursuit of Happyness (which is a great movie, btw), studying in Finland is a great choice. Every year, it ranks in the top 5 happiest countries worldwide, with great living conditions, a stable society and economy, and a very eco-friendly mindset.
For nature lovers, there are many beautiful landscapes to explore in the Land of a Thousand Lakes. The forests await to be discovered and you will also have the chance to observe one of the most beautiful natural phenomena, the Northern Lights.
5. It’s also one of the best English-speaking countries
Even though English is not even an official language in Finland (the official ones are Finnish and Swedish), they still excel at speaking it, being in the top 5 English speaking countries worldwide. This makes us wonder, is there anything Finns are not good at?
You will have no problems when you ask for directions or go shopping. There are also hundreds of English taught courses you can pick from. Here are some of the Finnish universities offering them:
6. Work opportunities
In Finland, combining studies with a part-time job is very common. Around 50% of university students choose this option to earn extra pocket money and experience. Students often work in retail, grocery stores, or restaurants, and the minimum wage is usually between 7-10 EUR per hour. Keep in mind that you need to respect the number of hours you are allowed to work:
- 25 hours/week during university
- unlimited during holidays
In most cities, there are always part-time jobs available, but many require at least basic knowledge of Finnish or Swedish. If learning these languages isn’t your cup of tea, there are still organisations offering opportunities to international students who speak English. Other options to gain experience is through internships or volunteering activities.
The work experience you gather will be very important after graduation because it can help you find a job much easier if you decide to stay in Finland.
Excellence awaits you
All in all, it’s fair to say that Finland seems to excel on all levels. It’s got a great education system, an honest and warm society, a great environment and well-chosen values. Living and studying in Finland is one of the best choices you can make. It will be a great experience and you will discover what a great human society looks like. Best of luck and make the most out of it!