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Structure of Educational System
Pre-higher Education System
Higher Education System
Administrative structure of higher education
Admissions to Higher Education and Recognition

Types of higher education institutions:
Yliopisto/Universitet (University)
Teknillinen korkeakoulu/Tekniska Hogskolan (University of Technology)
Kauppakorkeakoulu/Handelshogskola (School of Economics and Business Administration)
Taidekorkeakoulu/Konsthogskola (Art Academy)
Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu/Forsvarshogskola (National Defence College)
Ammattikorkeakoulu (AMK)/Yrkeshogskola (YH) (Polytechnic)

School leaving and higher education credentials:
Ammattikorkeakoulututkinto (AMK)/Yrkeshogskoleexamen (YH)
Elainlaaketieteen lisensiaatti/Veterinarmedicine licentiat
Hammaslaaketieteen lisensiatti/Odontologie licentiat
Laaketieteen lisensiaatti/Medicine licentiat

Pre-higher education:
Duration of compulsory education:
Age of entry: 7
Age of exit: 16
Structure of school system:
Type of school providing this education: Peruskoulu/grundskola (basic school)
Length of program in years: 9
Age level from: 7 to: 16
Certificate/diploma awarded: Peruskoulun paastotodistus/Avgangsbetyg fran grundskola (School Leaving Certificate)
General Secondary
Type of school providing this education: Lukio/gymnasiet
Length of program in years: 3
Age level from: 16 to: 19
Certificate/diploma awarded: ylioppilastutkinto/studentexamen (Matriculation Examination)
Vocational Secondary
Type of school providing this education: ammatillinen oppilaitos/yrkeslaroanstalt, ammatillinen aikuiskoulutuskeskus/ vuxenutbildningscenter (adults), oppisopimuskoulutus/laroavtalsutbildning
Length of program in years: 3
Age level from: 16 to: 19
Certificate/diploma awarded: ammatillinen perustutkinto/yrkesinriktad grundexamen (Initial Vocational); ammattitutkinto/yrkesexamen (Further Vocational Qualification); erikoisammattitutkinto/specialyrkesexamen (Specialist Vocational Qualification)
School education:
After completing 9 years of basic education, students can choose between general upper secondary school and vocational upper secondary education. 1) General upper secondary school (lukio/gymnasiet) provides general education leading to the national Matriculation Examination (ylioppilastutkinto/studentexamen), which gives eligibility to all forms of higher education. 2) Vocational upper secondary education (ammatillinen koulutus/yrkesutbildning). Vocational education is provided in multi-field and specialized vocational institutes, as well as in apprenticeship training. An Initial Vocational Qualification (ammatillinen perustutkinto/yrkesinriktad grundexamen) takes three years to complete and gives eligibility to all forms of higher education. In vocational further education and training it is also possible to obtain Further Vocational Qualifications (ammattitutkinto/yrkesexamen) and Specialist Vocational Qualifications (erikoisammattitutkinto/specialyrkesexamen) which can only be taken in competence-based examinations and are mainly intended for employed adults.
Higher education:
Higher education is provided in two types of institutions: polytechnics (AMK/YH) and universities. Polytechncis are more practically-oriented, training professionals for expert posts, while universities carry out research and provide education based on it. There are 20 universities in Finland: 10 multidisciplinary universities, three universities of technology, three schools of economics and business administration and four art academies. All universities are State-owned. Lower academic degrees (usually called kandidaatti) require 120 credits and can usually be completed in three years; higher academic degrees (usually called maisteri) require 160-180 credits, meaning five years of full-time study. Universities also confer postgraduate degrees (lisensiatti/licenciat) and doctorates (tohtori/doktor). In the 1990s, the university degree system was revised to develop a two-stage system in nearly all fields. In the old system, lower university degrees were awarded in only a few fields of study, but in the present system they are awarded in most fields of study. Universities select their students independently. Competition for places is fierce and a numerus clausus applies in all fields. The polytechnic system was introduced in the 1990s to create a non-university sector in higher education. It is founded on a nationwide network of 29 regional polytechnics. Polytechnic degrees require 140-180 credits and usually take 3.5 to 4.5 years to complete. The Ministry of Education confirms the polytechnic degree programmes but the polytechnics make decisions concerning the curriculum.
Main laws/decrees governing higher education:
Decree: Act on Polytechnic Studies (255/1995) (Laki ammattikorkeakoulouluopinnoista) Year: 1995
Decree: Decree 464/1998 (Asetus korkeakoulututkintojen jarjestemasta) Year: 1998
Decree: Decree on Polytechnic Studies (256/1995) (Asetus ammattikorkeakouluopinnoista) Year: 1995
Concerns: Polytechnics
Decree: Decrees pertaining to degrees, separate decrees for different fields of study.
Concerns: university sector
Decree: Universities Act (645/1997) (Yliopistolaki) Year: 1998
Decree: Universities Decree (115/1998) (Yliopistoasetus) Year: 1998
Academic year:
Classes from: Sep to: May
Long vacation from: 1 Jun to: 31 Aug
Languages of instruction: Finnish, Swedish
Stages of studies:
Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):
Non-university level:
Since the introduction of the non-university higher education sector in the 1990s, all higher vocational education has been gradually transferred to polytechnics (AMK). The degree conferred requires 140-180 credits (one credit corresponds to approximately 40 hours of study), depending on the field of study, and takes three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years to obtain. Studies consist of basic and professional studies, optional studies, and practical studies to develop professional skills, as well as a research project. Degrees can be taken in the following fields: Natural Resources, Technology and Communications, Business and Administration, Tourism, Catering and Institutional Management, Health Care and Social Services, Culture and the Humanities and Education.

University level studies:
University level first stage: Bachelor's Degrees:
The lower academic degree (kandidaatti/kandidat) requires a minimum of 120 credits and takes at least three years to complete. The degree consists of basic and intermediate studies in the main subject, a Bachelor's thesis, studies in one or more minor subjects and language studies.
University level second stage: Master's Degrees:
The higher academic degree requires a minimum total of 160 credits, or a lower academic degree followed by 40-60 credits and a successful presentation of a Master's thesis. The higher academic degree usually takes at least five years of full-time study to complete or two years' further study beyond a lower degree. Since the reform of the degree system in the 1990s, higher academic degrees are usually called maisteri/magister. Other Master-level degrees are diplomi-insinoori/diplomingenjor in Engineering; arkkitehti/arkitekt and maisema-arkkitehti/landskapsarkitekt in Architecture; upseeri/officer and yleisesikuntaupseeri/generalstabsofficer in Defence; and proviisori/provisor in Pharmacy. In Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine, the degree is called lisensiaatti/licentiat, which in other fields is a pre-doctoral research degree. The higher degree in Law is called kandidaati/kandidat.
University level third stage: Doctoral studies:
Students can apply for doctoral programmes after completing a higher academic degree. In most fields, an optional pre-doctoral degree (lisensiaati/licenciat) may be taken. A lisensiaatti/licenciat degree usually takes approximately two years of full-time study beyond a higher academic degree. Studies for the Doctor's degree (tohtori/doktor) take four years of full-time study beyond a higher academic degree or two years of full-time study beyond a lisensiaatti/licenciat degree and consist of theoretical studies, as well as a doctoral dissertation. In Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine there are three professional postgraduate degrees: erkoislaakari/speciallakare, erikoishammaslaakari/specialtandlakare and erikoiselainlaakari/specialveterinaar. Including practical training, it takes 3 to 8 years' further study beyond a higher academic degree to complete these degrees.

Teacher education:
Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers
Training of teachers in pre-school education and basic education (perusopetus) and General Upper Secondary School (lukio/gymnasiet) is offered in university faculties of education or other equivalent units called teacher education units. Since 1998, pre-school teacher education has been organized by faculties of education at universities. Students in pre-basic school teacher education complete the lower academic degree of kasvatustieteen kandidaatti/pedadogie kandidat. The majority of graduates with this degree work in day care centres as teachers and educators of children below school age or teach separate pre-school classes ("grade 0") of basic education. Students in class teacher education (grades 1-6 in basic education) take a higher academic degree, with the main subject in education. Class teacher education consists of basic, subject and advanced studies in education, subsidiary subject studies and teaching practice. Completing an extensive course (at least 35 credits) in a subsidiary subject will qualify the candidate to teach this subject as a subject teacher in basic education (grades 1-9).
Training of secondary school teachers
The qualification of a subject teacher is a higher academic degree requiring a minimum of 160 credits. The main subject is the subject the students intend to teach. Students study within the general framework for subject teacher education in the faculty of their main subject which is responsible for organizing the subject teaching. The department of teacher education is responsible for organizing the pedagogical studies. Subject teacher education includes 35 credits of pedagogical studies. Those holding a higher academic degree with a relevant main subject can complete 35 credits of separate pedagogical studies for teachers in a teacher education unit. Subject teacher education provides wide-ranging qualifications for basic education and general upper secondary education, as well as qualifications to teach general subjects in vocational institutes and liberal adult education institutions.Depending on the institution and subject, vocational subject teachers must have 1) an appropriate higher university degree; 2) an appropriate polytechnic (AMK/YH) degree or 3) the highest qualification in their own field, at least three years' work experience in the field and at least 35 credits in pedagogical studies completed in a teacher training unit of a university or polytechnic.
Training of higher education teachers
Only teacher educators have to take compulsory pedagogical studies. Universities offer voluntary pedagogical courses for their teachers.

Non-traditional studies:
Distance higher education
Open university instruction is organized by the centres for continuing education of universities, according to university syllabuses. There are no formal educational pre-requirements. Open universities do not award degrees but, after completing about 60 credits, students may apply for a place at the respective universities.
Lifelong higher education
The centres for continuing education of universities provide professional courses for university and polytechnic degree holders. The length of the courses varies; after longer programmes certain Diplomas or Certificates, e.g. Proficiency Diplomas, BBAs, MBAs etc., can be awarded.
Other forms of non-formal higher education
Higher education institutions enrol non-graduating extra students to study a course or part of a syllabus. The institutions have their own regulations for these extra students. Information on applications is provided by the institutions.

Administration & co-ordination:
Responsible authorities:
Ministry of Education (Opetusministerio)
Head: Maija Rask, Minister
Administrative officer: Markku Linna, Secretary-General
PO Box 29
FIN-00023 GOVERNMENT Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 160-041
Fax: +358(9) 135-9335

Department for Education and Science Policy, Ministry of Education (Koulutus-ja tiedepolitiikan osasto, Opetusministerio)
Head: Arvo Jappinen, Director-General
PO Box 29
FIN-00023 GOVERNMENT Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 160-041
Fax: +358(9) 135-9335

Role of governing body: Supervision, overall development and planning of education and research in university sector.

Finnish Council of University Rectors (Suomen yliopistojen rehtorien neuvosto)
Head: Prof. Paavo Uronen, Chairman
Administrative officer: Dr. Tapio Markkanen, Secretary-General
PO Box 3
University of Helsinki
00014 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 1912-2335
Fax: +358(9) 1912-2194

Role of governing body: Cooperation between institutions; makes recommendations and declarations

Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC) (Korkeakoulujen arviointineuvosto)
PO Box 20
FIN-00501 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 7748-8411
Fax: +358(9) 7748-8414

Role of governing body: Independent expert body assisting universities, polytechnics and the Ministry of Education in matters relating to evaluation

The Rectors' Conference of Finnish Polytechnics (Ammattikorkeakoulujen Rehtorineuvosto (ARENE))
Head: Tapio Varmola, President
Administrative officer: Kaj Malm, Secretary-General
Rikhardinkatu 4 B 22
FIN-00130 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 612-9920
Fax: +358(9) 612-9230

Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) (Kansinvalisen henkilovaihdon keskus
Head: Ulla Ekberg, Director
PO Box 343 (Hakaniemenkatu 2)
FIN-00531 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 7747-7064
Fax: +358(9) 7747-7910

National Board of Education (Opetushallitus)
PO Box 380 (Hakaniemenkatu 2)
00531 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 774-775
Fax: +358(9) 7747-7201

Role of governing body: Advisory board for Ministry of Education

Admission to non university higher education studies
Name of secondary school credential required: Ylioppilastutkinto/Studentexamen
Alternatives to credentials:
Recognized equivalent credentials, e.g. International Baccalaureate.; completed upper secondary school or a three-year vocational qualification
Entrance exams required:
Various types of entrance examinations
Other admission requirements:
Admission to university-level studies
Name of secondary school credential required: Ylioppilastutkinto/Studentexamen
Alternatives to credentials: Other equivalent credentials, e.g. International Baccalaureate; completed upper secondary school or a three-year vocational qualification. After having completed a certain part (approx. 60 credits) of open university studies, students can apply for a study place at the respective university, in the respective degree programme.
Entrance exams required: Various types of entrance examinations
Foreign students admission
Definition of foreign student: The term foreign student usually applies to all the students, regardless of nationality or native language, who have completed their secondary education in any country other than Finland. Other definitions are also used by universities: definition may depend on nationality or native language of the student.
Admission requirements: Students must have completed secondary education. Enrolment or eligibility to enrol in an institution of higher education of corresponding level in the country of origin. Universities select their students independently. Entrance examinations may apply.
Entry regulations: Students who are not from Nordic countries or the European Union must have a visa and a valid residence permit before arrival in Finland if their studies take more than three months.
Language requirements: In most cases, students must have good working knowledge of Finnish or Swedish. In some cases, they must show proof of their good knowledge of English.
Application procedures:
Apply to individual institution for entry to: Universities and Polytechnics
Recognition of studies & qualifications:
Studies pursued in home country (System of recognition/accreditation): Universities, polytechnics and their programmes are assessed by the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (
Studies pursued in foreign countries (bodies dealing with recognition of foreign credentials):
ENIC/NARIC, National Academic Recognition Information Centre, National Board of Education (Opetushallitus)
Head: Jukka Sarjala, Director-General
Administrative officer: Carita Blomqvist, Contact person, Counsellor of Education
PO Box 380 (Hakaniemenkatu 2)
FIN-00531 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 774-775
Fax: +358(9) 7747-7201

Deals with credential recognition for entry to: Profession

Other information sources on recognition of foreign studies: Universities: academic recognition of credentials in order to enter the university. National Board of Medico-legal Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: authorization to practise Medical professions.
Special provisions for recognition:
For the exercise of a profession: Recognition is required for certain public posts. As a member of the European Union, Finland implements the directives on recognition of qualifications.
Multilateral agreements concerning recognition of foreign studies
Name of agreement: Convention on the Recognition of Study Attainments in the Nordic Countries
Year of signature: 1976
Name of agreement: European Agreement on Continued Payment of Scholarships to Students Studying Abroad
Year of signature: 1991
Name of agreement: European Convention on the Academic Recognition of University Qualifications
Year of signature: 1991
Name of agreement: European Convention on the Equivalence of Diplomas Leading to Admission to Universities
Year of signature: 1991
Name of agreement: European Convention on the Equivalence of Periods of University Study
Year of signature: 1991
Name of agreement: European Convention on the General Equivalence of Periods of University Study
Year of signature: 1991
Name of agreement: Protocol to the European Convention on the Equivalence of the Diplomas Leading to Admission to Universities
Year of signature: 1991
Name of agreement: Unesco Regional Convention for the Europe Region on the Recognition of Academic Studies, Diplomas and Degrees
Year of signature: 1982
Name of agreement: Unesco: Recommendation on the Recognition of Studies and Qualifications in Higher Education
Year of signature: 1993
References to further information on foreign student admissions and recognition of studies
Title: Higher education in Finland: an introduction
Publisher: CIMO
Year of publication: 1999
Title: Recognition of Qualifications taken outside Finland
Publisher: National Board of Education (
Year of publication: 2002
Title: Study in Finland. International Programmes in Finnish Higher Education
Publisher: CIMO
Year of publication: 2001

Main student services at national level
Employment Offices, Ministry of Labour
PO Box 34
FIN-00023 Valtioneuvosto
Tel: +358(9)18561

Category of services provided: Academic and career counselling services; Employment services

Finnish Student Health Service
Toolonkatu 37 A
FIN-00260 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9)405-051

Category of services provided: Social and welfare services
Services available to foreign Students: Yes

Finnish Student Housing - Suomen opiskelija-asunott Oy
Kalevankatu 4 A 16
00100 Helsinki
Fax: +358(9) 6803-3451

Category of services provided: Social and welfare services
Services available to foreign Students: Yes

National student associations and unions
The National Union of Finnish Students (SYL)
Kalevankatu 3 A 46
00100 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 9680-3110

Union of Finnish Polytechnic Students (SAMOK)
Makelankatu 56, 3rd floor
00510 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 8560-7600
Fax: +358(9) 8560-7699

Health/social provisions
Social security for home students: Yes
Social security for foreign students: Yes
Foreign student social security provisions: National Sickness Insurance Scheme covers foreign students who stay in Finland more than 12 consecutive months, for EU & Nordic countries and, if there is a reciprocal agreement, even shorter periods.
Special student travel fares:
By road: Yes
By rail: Yes
By air: Yes
Available to foreign students: Yes
Student expenses and financial aid
Student costs:
Average living costs: 670 (Euro)
Home students tuition fees: Minimum: 0 (Euro)
Foreign students tuition fees: Minimum: 0 (Euro)
Bodies providing information on student financial aid:
Centre for International Mobility (CIMO)
PO Box 343 (Hakaniemenkatu 2)
FIN-00531 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 7747-7064
Fax: +358(9) 7747-7910

Deals with: Grants
Category of students: Advanced level students and researchers.
The Social Insurance Institution (KELA) Centre for Student Financial Aid
PO Box 228
Vapaudenkatu 48-50
40101 Jyvaskyla
Tel: 358(20) 434-6770

Deals with: Grants and Loans
Category of students: Foreigners who have lived in Finland for at least two years or for some other reasons than studies and whose residence in Finland is considered permanent. In some cases, others may also qualify. Contact your university first.
Publications on student services and financial aid:
Title: Grants and Study Aid for Foreigners living in Finland
Publisher: The National Union of Finnish Students
Title: Higher Education in Finland. An Introduction
Publisher: CIMO
Year of publication: 1999
Title: Scholarships for foreign post-graduates and young researchers
Publisher: CIMO
Year of publication: 1999
Title: Study Abroad 2000-2001
Publisher: UNESCO/IBE
Year of publication: 1999

Principal national bodies responsible for dealing with international cooperation and exchanges in higher education:
Centre for International Mobility (CIMO)
PO Box 343 (Hakaniemenkatu 2)
FIN-00531 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 7747-7064
Fax: +358(9) 7747-7910

Ministry of Education
PO Box 293
Meritullinkatu 10
00171 Helsinki
Tel: +358(9) 160-041
Fax: +358(9) 135-9335

Participation of country in multilateral or bilateral higher education programmes
Name of exchange programme: ISEP
Name of exchange programme: NORDPLUS
Name of exchange programme: Other EU programmes of higher education
Name of exchange programme: SOCRATES, LEONARDO

Usual grading system in secondary school
Full Description: Upper secondary school: 4-10; 0 (fail) - 7 (improbatur - laudatur) for Matriculation Examination. Vocational education: 1-5.
Highest on scale: 10 (upper sec. school) / 5 (vocational educ.)
Pass/fail level: 5 (upper sec. school) / 1 (vocational educ.)
Lowest on scale: 4 (upper sec. school) / 1 (vocational educ.)
Main grading system used by higher education institutions
Full Description: There is no uniform system. Most systems are as follows: 1(lowest)-3 or satisfactory, good, excellent; 1(lowest)-5; pass/fail
Highest on scale: 3/excellent (FI erinomaiset,SV utmarkta); 5
Pass/fail level: 1/satisfactory (tyydyttavat,nojaktiga); 1
Lowest on scale: 1/satisfactory; 0
Other main grading systems
For theses, most usually: approbatur (lowest), lubenter appr., non sine laude appr., cum laude appr., magna c.l.appr., eximia c. l. appr. and laudatur (highest). Scale 1-5 (highest) also in use.


Data for academic year: 2001-2002
Source: National Board of Education, Helsinki, 2002

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