Interest in Finland's education system is witnessing a significant surge, with a remarkable increase in the number of first-time applications for residence permits for studies compared to the previous year.
As of the end of July 2023, a total of 8,762 non-EU applicants submitted their initial applications for residence permits based on educational pursuits.
This surge in applications highlights a growing attraction towards studying in Finland.
The first residence permit is sought when a student has secured a place of study and intends to relocate to Finland. Generally, this initial permit is applied for from the applicant's home country.
In the same period of 2022, the number of first-time applications for residence permits for studies stood at 5,911. This surge of approximately 48% underscores the increasing interest in Finnish education.
Within the pool of applicants for residence permits from January to July 2023, a majority pursued degree programs, accounting for 86% of the total. Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, India, and Russia were the top countries from which the highest number of applications were received.
Positive Decisions for Most Applicants
During the first seven months of the year, a total of 7,039 first residence permits for studies were granted. Impressively, around 95% of the applications received a positive outcome. Typically, negative decisions are linked to challenges in demonstrating sufficient financial resources.
Apart from securing a study spot in Finland, obtaining a residence permit for studies necessitates demonstrating adequate financial means to sustain oneself in the country and possessing insurance to cover potential medical expenses. International students outside the EU are ineligible for student financial aid and are required to pay tuition fees to their Finnish higher education institution.
International students are granted residence permits for the duration of their studies upon arriving in the country.
Application Processing and Backlog
The processing time for first residence permits this year has averaged 41 days. Nearly 60% of first-time applicants receive their decisions within 30 days or less.
At present, there is a backlog of applications. The Finnish Immigration Service has managed to process more applications during the same time frame this year than ever before.
"In anticipation of the summer season, we bolstered our resources, as we do every year. Due to the significant upswing in applications, we've also augmented our processing staff for student applications for the remainder of the year. We anticipate clearing the backlog for the most part by year-end," states Anu Tarén, Head of Section at the Permit and Nationality Unit.
Continuously Enhancing Processing Methods
The Finnish Immigration Service is consistently enhancing the processing of residence permits for studies, incorporating more partial automation. This approach utilizes information available in public authority registries more efficiently and automatically, streamlining the application process.