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The annual sledging down the Tähtitorninmäki Hill in Helsinki on Shrove Tuesday is one of the many student activities offered by student unions and organisations, which international students in Finland can enjoy.Studying comes first, but there should also be time for recreational activities.

EDUCATION, and university studies in particular, is one of the most common reasons for a young person to move to Finland. No tuition fee, or a relatively low one compared to the rest of Europe, North America and Asia, where students might have to pay up to thousands of euros per semester, is only one factor.

“It is not only about the free education” says Xilong Wang, an international masters student at the University of Helsinki. “Compared to China, the schedule here is not as fixed. In Finland, students have the chance to choose freely among a wide variety of courses, sometimes even from different faculties, programmes or universities”.

Chris Denholm, another University of Helsinki student, adds: “In England students are mothered through their studies every step of the way. In Finland one is more independent and can plan the studies in the way that suits the most. One can even decide when to graduate.”

Yonca Ermutlu, coordinator of the Media and Global Communication programme at the University of Helsinki, sees things slightly differently: “Our education system expects student to have full responsibility in his or her studies and thus we do not push them enough to complete the studies in time. We base our education on the principle of academic freedom, but when we receive international students from different educational backgrounds and with different studying skills, we experience cultural clashes… Even so, high quality research and education, small groups of students, equality and low hierarchy make the Finnish system one of the best ones”.

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YANNICK ILUNGA
HELSINKI TIMES
LEHTIKUVA / MARJA AIRIO

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