The trend started to develop following the Finnish government’s decision to introduce tuition fees for non-EU citizens in late 2015. This policy was subsequently implemented in August 2017.
“Previously, demand for English-taught courses in Finland used to be much higher than supply,” explained Laurens Vehmeijer of Studyportals to The PIE News. He continued: “After the decision to introduce tuition fees, the demand dropped. Now it’s actually the first time ever there’s more supply than demand.”
Based on Studyportals' findings, the lack of interest in applying for Finnish universities is now at an all-time low among international students considering either a bachelor’s or master’s degree within continental Europe.
In 2015, Russia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Germany and Iran were responsible for around 53% of international student interest in Finnish universities. Following the government’s announcement of tuition fees for non-EU citizens, this dropped to 36% in 2016 and 20% in 2017. Currently, the figure stands at just 16%.
“Studying abroad is a complex decision for our students, and costs are a major factor for some,” commented Studyportals CEO Edwin van Rest. “We clearly see the recent introduction of tuition fees for Finnish universities influencing non-European students’ interest to study there. Projected applications and enrolments will also be affected over the next 2 years.”
van Rest continued: “It’s alarming, yet there are proven strategies for overcoming similar patterns. Sweden is a great example of a country whose institutions recovered their position by acting strategically and effectively. I personally am confident that Finland has a strong education sector and, with the right strategies and with time, it can look forward to increase its international applicant numbers in the post-fee era.”
Carmen Neghina, thought leadership manager at Studyportals, agreed that Finnish universities have reason to remain optimistic about receiving healthy numbers of international applicants in the future. She told The PIE News: “Finland still has great universities and is known for its teaching quality. Tuition fees don’t change that.”
For now, the introduction of tuition fees has had a clear impact on the recruitment efforts of Finnish universities. Study.eu managing director Gerrit Bruno Blöss explained: “Many small and mid-sized schools have scaled back recruitment outside Europe and follow a “wait-and-see” approach.”
However, he told The PIE News that “the market is recovering after a dip in interest” and the percentage of Study.eu visitors interested in Finland is now on par with Sweden and the Netherlands.
Dan Anderson – HT
Photo: Anni Reenpää – Lehtikuva