A sign outside the Faculty of Education and Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä.
A sign outside the Faculty of Education and Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä.


Roughly 50 per cent of foreign degree students in Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences are planning on staying in Finland after graduation, finds the latest International Student Barometer (ISB).

The biennial survey tracks the satisfaction of foreign exchange and degree students with the studies, services and life in their place of study.

A total of 6,650 foreign students from 13 universities and two universities of applied sciences responded to the survey in Finland. The majority, almost 4,400, of the respondents were completing an entire degree in the country, according to a press release from the Finnish National Agency for Education (OPH).

“The survey provides valuable information about the appeal of Finnish higher education,” summarises Joanna Kumpula, the international marketing manager at OPH. “The participating universities can utilise the feedback and reference data to develop their operations.”

The vast majority (90%) of respondents said they are satisfied with the services and support they received when arriving in the country, settling in their new home and place of residence, and starting their studies.

Opening a bank account, on the other hand, was considered the most difficult aspect of starting studies in Finland.

Finnish higher education institutions receive praise for their learning environments and facilities, with virtually all respondents indicating they are either satisfied or very satisfied with them. The English skills and overall expertise of the teaching staff, similarly, was widely appreciated by foreign exchange and degree students in the country. The students also expressed their satisfaction with the possibility to study with people of different cultural backgrounds in suitably-sized groups.

Overall, 83 per cent of respondents said they would recommend studying in Finland.

Fewer than a half of respondents, however, were satisfied with their possibilities to find employment and earn money while studying. Over a third (38%) of the foreign students also did not know how to to access career and recruitment services.

The ISB also tracks foreign students’ reasons for choosing their place of study and their plans after graduation.

A quarter of respondents in their last year of study revealed that their post-graduation plans include working for more than two years in Finland. One-tenth, meanwhile, told that they intend to stay in the country to work for a shorter period of time and one in seven (14%) that they are planning on applying for a post-graduate degree programme in their current university.

Fewer than a quarter of the foreign students surveyed said they are already planning on moving elsewhere.

“The results are encouraging for the intellectual capital of Finland,” says Olli-Pekka Heinonen, the director general at OPH.

“At the same time, it is a concern that the share of satisfied respondents was the lowest in employment-related matters,” he adds. “If we fail to match jobs and highly educated foreigners who are already familiar with Finland, we will lose talent overseas.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Mikko Vähäniitty – Lehtikuva