Known as the land of a thousand lakes, the midnight sun and the Northern Lights, Finland is famous for its natural beauty. As a world leader in technology, Finland has one of the highest standards of living in the world and a strongly developed democracy and economy. Experience rich cultural activities, such as the traditional sauna, as well as the efficient yet stunning architecture of Finland's clean, modern cities. Join in the abundance of unusual winter sports and festivals and experience the essence of Finland.



Languages Spoken:

Finnish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION

All Finns learn at least two foreign languages in school, and all university students are required to pass an English proficiency exam. Although many Finns love to practice their English, you must be adamant to learn Finnish. Then you will be more respected and better liked by Finns.

- Carina Wilmot,
ISEP participant from
the University of Wyoming
to the University of Jyväskylä

The Finnish higher education system has two parallel sectors: universities and polytechnics. Universities are characterized by scientific research. Polytechnics are oriented towards working life and base their operations on high vocational skill requirements. Universities select their own students independently. Competition for student places in higher education is fierce and an annual intake quota applies to all fields of study at universities. Various types of entrance examinations form a central part of the selection process. There is no tuition payment, and students are eligible for government-subsidized study loans and some grants. Students have a relatively free hand in determining their course of study and may retake examinations twice if they do not succeed the first time.

University degrees in Finland correspond closely to the U.S. bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees. Universities provide lower (bachelor's) and higher (master's) academic degrees and scientific postgraduate degrees, which are the licentiate (Lisensiaatti/Licentiat) and the doctorate (Tohtori/Doktor). A bachelor's degree (Kandidaatti/Kandidat) can usually be completed in three years and a master's degree (Maisteri/Magister) in five years (including the Bachelor syllabus). Due to the high level of academic freedom in Finnish universities, the average duration for completing a master's degree is about six and a half years. Most Finnish students study through to the Maisteri/Magister level.

University studies in Finland can be grouped into basic (perusopinnot/grundstudier), intermediate (aineopinnot/ ämnesstudier) and advanced (syventävät opinnot/ fördjupade studier) studies. The Kandidaatti/Kandidat degree usually includes basic and intermediate studies and a bachelor's thesis, with advanced studies and a master's thesis necessary to complete the Maisteri/Magister degree.

Studies are measured in credits, or "study weeks" (opintoviikko/ studievecka), with one credit equivalent to 40 hours of work, including class contact, and individual study and preparation time. The Kandidaatti/Kandidat usually requires 120 credits, and the Maisteri/Magister requires an additional 40, or 160 in total. Beyond the Maisteri/Magister, the Lisensiaatti/Licentiat and Tohtori/Doktor degrees are essentially research degrees. Coursework in the subject field is required for both, but research and the preparation of a substantial thesis are key elements of these advanced degrees.

Individual courses may involve a variety of different types of work: lectures, exercises, essays or other independent work, book examinations, seminars, etc. Students can receive required course readings in English in addition to Finnish and Swedish. All universities offer Finnish and/or Swedish language courses for international students.

All completed lectures and passed exams are entered in a student's study register (opintorekisteri/ studieregister) in an electronic form. Grading is done on a scale of satisfactory, good or excellent, or respectively from one to three. Alternatively, particularly in technical universities, a scale of one to five is sometimes used.

The academic year runs from August to July. The university calendar starts in late August or early September with the first term completed in mid-December. The second term begins in January and ends in May. Generally there are two 14-16 week terms, with the only in-term vacation period being one week at Easter.

Visa and Residency

RESIDENCE PERMIT

The Finnish Immigration Service has new internet pages. Please visit their pages for more information about the residence permit for students.

On their pages you can find the following:

  • A link to the electronic Application form for Residence Permit
  • FAQ
  • Information about the income requirement
  • Information on average processing times at the Finnish Immigration Service

On the Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage you can find contact details to the Finnish Diplomatic Missions:

  • Finnish Diplomatic Missions

 

Foreign nationals need to have a residence permit to stay in Finland for 90 days or longer. This does not apply to nationals of the other Nordic countries and EU/EEA nationals.

You can submit your application electronically. Since the application forms and appendices do not need to be sent by post, e-services makes the application process faster.

Applications are submitted to a Finnish Embassy

You must submit your residence permit application to a Finnish embassy in the country of your legal residence. As a rule, it is your home country. You may not submit your application to the diplomatic mission of a country other than Finland. Please also note you cannot submit your application to an honorary consulate. You may not send your application by post; instead, you must visit the embassy in person.

A processing fee will be charged for your residence permit application. The fee will be collected when you submit your application. The fee will not be refunded even in the event of a negative decision.

The embassy will forward your application to the Finnish Immigration Service in Finland for a decision. Submit your application as soon as you have received proof of acceptance from your educational institution. This way you can ensure the timely receipt of your residence permit.

You must have a valid passport or another travel document, and you must legally reside in the country where you initiate your residence permit application process. If there is no Finnish embassy in your country of residence and you must travel to another country to submit your residence permit application, you must find out whether you need a visa to enter this country.

Before you may be granted a residence permit, you must also meet the general requirements for entry into Finland. These requirements include the following: you may not have been refused entry into Finland, and you may not be a danger to public order and safety, national health or Finland’s international relations.

 

Visit a Finnish Embassy abroad even if you use e-service

If you have submitted your application via e-service, you need to visit a Finnish embassy to verify your identity and to present the original copies of any supplements needed for the application.

An application cannot be processed until you have visited the embassy.

 

Passport, photo and fingerprints

Take your passport and passport photo with you to the embassy. Make sure that your passport is valid for your entire stay in Finland or longer.

At the embassy, you will also be fingerprinted for a biometric residence permit card.

 

Filling in the application for residence permit for studies

Complete form OLE_OPI carefully and attach any required clarifications. Further information on these is on the application form. If information is missing from the application, its processing will be delayed.

Attach an acceptance certificate from a Finnish educational institution, a certificate of health insurance and clarification of income to the application form. Take the originals of the above-mentioned attachments with you when you go to the Finnish embassy to have your fingerprints taken.

Fill in the form in Finnish, Swedish or English. The attachments must also be in one of the above languages. Use an official translator if you are having your documents translated into one of these languages from another language.

If you are under 18 years of age you will need to obtain your guardian’s consent for coming to Finland. Your guardian must also sign the application form.

You may also apply for a residence permit electronically:

 

You need to take responsibility for your means of support

In Finland you must take responsibility for supporting yourself. It is difficult for a student to find work in Finland. Before you come to Finland, make sure that your finances will be sufficient for the entire period of your studies. Residence permits for students are normally granted for one year at a time. Income is investigated in connection with every application.

Since your housing and meal expenses will be covered by your ISEP benefits, you will need to demonstrate proof of funds in the amount of 175 euros per month for the duration of your stay.

 

How do I prove my means of support?

  • Attach a bank account statement to the application form showing that you have the minimum amount of euros (or equivalent) mentioned above in your bank account. You must have the necessary funds in your own bank account. Sponsorship agreements provided by relatives, friends or employers are not acceptable.
  • In addition, attach written evidence of the benefits provided by your educational institution to the application form. If you have been granted a stipend or scholarship by the government, an association or an educational institution for the purpose of your studies, attach the scholarship decision to the application form. An account statement will not be necessary if the scholarship is sufficient to support your stay in Finland.
  • Present the originals of all documents when submitting your application form.
  • If the attachments are not in Finnish, Swedish or English, have an official translator translate them, and attach the translations to your application.

Insurance is required

As a student you will be responsible for your illness-related expenses in Finland. You will need private insurance for your residence permit to cover your medical and drug expenses. Please append an insurance certificate to your application (if necessary, please contact insurance@isep.org to request an ISEP insurance certificate for your application).

 

See all updates to the Finnish Residence Permit for Studies.

 

A Note Regarding the Schengen Area

Finland is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

Culture

CULTURE

Throughout Finland's prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of Swedish and Russian rule, cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences from North America are prominent. Into the 21st century, many Finns have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and Africa.

One of the most traditional activities characterized by the Finnish culture is cottage life by a lake, often combined with going to sauna, swimming and barbecuing. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Finnish mentality is often characterized by less small talk and more honest and straight forward types of communication compared to other cultures.

Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen (designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in furniture and glassware.

FOOD

Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 4-6 p.m. at home.

Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades.

Daily Life

CULTURE

Throughout Finland's prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of Swedish and Russian rule, cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences from North America are prominent. Into the 21st century, many Finns have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and Africa.

One of the most traditional activities characterized by the Finnish culture is cottage life by a lake, often combined with going to sauna, swimming and barbecuing. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Finnish mentality is often characterized by less small talk and more honest and straight forward types of communication compared to other cultures.

Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen (designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in furniture and glassware.

FOOD

Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 4-6 p.m. at home.

Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades.

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency


MONEY MATTERS


Currency
The currency of Finland is the Euro, the common currency of the European Union. Most member states of the European Union use the Euro.

The following major banks have numerous branches across the country: Nordea, Sampo and Osuuspankki. ATMs are widely available in most parts of the country. ATM cards with links to major networks (e.g. Visa, MasterCard) will work in Finland. Credit cards (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, American Express) are also widely used in Finland.


Compare your currency to the Euro.

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