Higher education

Opiskelijoita. KUVA: GorillaUniversities and universities of applied sciences enjoy freedom of research, science, art and tuition. They are responsible for the content and quality of the education they provide.

On the basis of foresight, the Ministry of Education and Culture sets quantitative targets for education and advocates the development of education.

Universities offer Bachelor's and Master's degrees and academic, artistic and third-cycle postgraduate degrees. Universities of applied sciences provide Bachelor’s and Master's degrees. Higher education institutions may also provide professional specialisation studies, education consisting of modules in the form of open studies or other types of separate studies, and continuing education.

Student admissions

Each higher education institution decides on which students it admits as well as on the criteria on the basis of which students are selected for admission. Universities decide the admissions criteria. In the application process, applicants may be divided into separate applicant categories on the basis of their different educational backgrounds. The admissions criteria applied must be consistent for all applicants belonging to the same category. For the purpose of meeting the educational needs of a given language group, exceptions to consistent admissions criteria may be made to a limited extent.

Higher education leading to a degree is free of charge for citizens of European Union member states and those belonging to the European Economic Area. Tuition fees are charged as of 1 August 2017 for all those not belonging to the European Union or the European Economic Area.

As a rule, applications for higher education are usually submitted through the Studyinfo.fi service.

Educational responsibilities

Provisions on the degrees conferred by each university are given by government decree (Government Decree on University Degrees 794/2004). Provisions that more explicitly distribute the educational responsibilities among the universities are given by decree of the Ministry of Education and Culture (1451/2014), which is prepared in collaboration with the universities. The degrees conferred by universities of applied sciences and the degree titles associated with them are laid down in the education licence of each university of applied sciences. If necessary, the licence may also specify the degree-specific educational responsibilities.

University degrees

Students can complete Bachelor's and Master's degrees and academic, artistic and third-cycle postgraduate degrees in university. Universities may also provide professional specialisation programmes, degree modules as open university education or as other non-degree studies, and continuing professional education.

Master's degrees are taken after a Bachelor's degree or equivalent studies. Due to the professional requirements in the disciplines of medicine and dentistry, universities may organise a Licentiate degree programmes without a preceding Bachelor's or Master's degree programme. Postgraduate degrees include Doctoral and Licentiate's degrees, which are completed after a Master's degree or equivalent studies.

Provisions on the degrees conferred by universities, the objectives of the degrees as well as the structure of studies and other criteria for studies are issued by government decree.

Credits are used to determine the workload of studies. A certain number of credits is awarded for studies in accordance with the workload the studies require. The workload corresponding to one full year of studies is equivalent to 60 credits.

University of applied sciences degrees

Students at universities of applied sciences can complete Bachelor’s degrees and Master's degrees. The Bachelor's degrees awarded by universities of applied sciences are equivalent to Bachelor's degrees conferred by a university, and the Master's degrees are equivalent to Master's degrees completed at a university. Universities of applied sciences may also provide professional specialisation programmes, degree modules as open university education or as other non-degree studies, and continuing professional education. Additionally, universities of applied sciences organise professional teacher education.

Master's degree students must have completed a Bachelor's degree programme at a university of applied sciences, or some other suitable higher education qualification. Additionally, students admitted to a Master's degree programme must have had three years of work experience after completing their Bachelor's degree. Provisions on the degrees conferred by universities of applied sciences, the objectives of the degrees as well as the structure of studies and other criteria for studies are issued by government decree (1129/2014). Universities of applied sciences may provide education for immigrants free of charge with a view to providing the student with language proficiency and other knowledge and skills needed for university of applied sciences studies. Provisions on the scope of the education may be issued by government decree.

Completion of study modules

In addition to completing an entire degree, students at universities and universities of applied sciences can also complete modules, which are smaller parts of degrees. Higher education institutions offer the possibility of completing modules in the form of open university or open university of applied sciences studies or other types of separate studies. Modules can include the completion of individual courses or broader entities. Higher education institutions can form integrated education programmes from these modules for the needs of working life, the completion of which will entitles the participants to a higher education diploma. Additionally, higher education institutions can offer modules as continuing education for which a fee is charged.

This type of broad-scoped service for completing modules enables lifelong learning.

Tuition in open universities and open universities of applied sciences

Universities and universities of applied sciences provide a wide range of open higher education studies. Open higher education offers an opportunity to become familiar with higher education, supplement prior degrees and acquire new competencies. Prior open higher education studies are utilised as part of admissions criteria at most higher education institutions. Open higher education serves many purposes. It encourages lifelong learning, facilitates admission to higher education, promotes accessibility of higher education, diversifies student admissions for degree programmes and provides access to general education and knowledge.

The state finances the provision of open higher education. Higher education institutions are entitled to charge tuition fees, which may be at most EUR 15 per credit included in the right to study.

Professional specialisation programmes

Universities and universities of applied sciences offer professional specialisation programmes for those who have completed a degree and have already entered working life. Professional specialisation programmes aim to boost expertise and competence by means of providing education based on the research and development competencies and focus areas of the higher education institutions. Close links with business and industry are important for professional specialisation programmes. The minimum scope of professional specialisation studies is 30 credits.

The objective of professional specialisation programmes is to generate competence for which no market-based provision of education is available. The state finances the provision of professional specialisation programmes. Higher education institutions can provide these studies free of charge or collect a tuition fee of at most EUR 120 per credit included in the right to study. Only studies for which the study requirements have been agreed upon in inter-university cooperation or inter-university of applied sciences cooperation can be provided as professional specialisation programmes. Cooperation with representatives of business and industry must be carried out during the agreement procedure.

Continuing professional education

Universities and universities of applied sciences can provide continuing professional education. It is education which is provided on commercial terms. Higher education institutions cannot use public funding to support activities that are provided on commercial terms. Continuing education includes tailored training and development programmes for enterprises and associations, labour policy education, and openly accessible studies such as MBA programmes. Higher education institutions can also offer modules from higher education degrees as fee-paying continuing professional education.

Developing student admissions

Developing student admissions

A reform of higher education student admissions is taking place between 2018 and 2020. By 2018, universities and universities of applied sciences had introduced a new student admissions procedure. It now takes less time for applicants to prepare for the admissions.

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EUROSTUDENT studies and analyses

EUROSTUDENT studies and analyses

The international EUROSTUDENT studies look at issues such as young people's access to higher education, the study conditions in higher education, students' use of time and their income, and integration of international students in Finland.

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Links to other websites

Joint application for higher education and information on studies at Studyinfo.fi

Contact information

Birgitta Vuorinen, Director General 
Ministry of Education and Culture, Korkeakoulu- ja tiedepolitiikan osasto ( KTPO ), Division for Higher Education Policy 0295330335