Find an international flavour in Finland’s higher education institutions.

There has hardly been a better time to study in Finland in the English language. At present there are almost 550 study programmes in English offered by Finnish higher education institutions and Minister of Education Jukka Gustafsson (SDP) recently stated that Finland should attract yet more foreign students.

Nearly 400 of these study programmes are degree level studies – available in both universities and polytechnics – and the remainder are mostly short courses, which can usually be taken as part of an exchange programme.

The Finnish education system is world-renowned and viewed with a great deal of respect, and indeed a little jealousy, by some of the planet’s major industrial and technologically advanced nations. Also, in Finnish society, it is always encouraged to continue your studies at any point in your career, so it’s never too late.

So how does studying through the English language in Finland compare to studying in the home nations of some our international students around the country?

World-class education

Anju K Philips, aged 24 from India, is pursuing a Masters in Biotechnology from the Tampere University of Technology, but has been working on her thesis at University of Helsinki’s Department of Medical Genetics for the past eight months.

“Studying in Finland has been a great experience for me. My master’s programme was fully in English and therefore I didn’t face any problems. Finland’s education system is very flexible and hence one can choose subjects from different faculties according to one’s interests. The ability to design one’s own curriculum is one of the most important aspects of studying in Finland. Finland offers world-class education and I’m very happy to get an opportunity to study here,” says Anju.

“The main difference here compared to Spain is the classes. I think here every class has an important practical part. In the country I come from it is basically that the teacher says and you write, and that’s useless, boring,” explains Javier Gómez, a 20-year-old from Spain studying translation of English and English courses in the University of Tampere.

“I would encourage future Erasmus students from Spain to come here to study – to try something different, because, usually people choose another destinations. For us Spaniards to choose Finland I think is a bit strange, but I am very happy because of the decision I took, and thanks to that I am seeing a lot of different and new things, different ways of life,” continues Javi.

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Emphasis on application

John Wideman, 24 from the UK, is a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from Kajaani University of Applied Sciences. “As a Brit there are few limitations when studying in my mother tongue. I have noticed a favourable ratio of students to lecturers, compared to my home country. This allows you to tap into the knowledge of those who have a vast array of experience in the subject fields. Additionally there is more emphasis on application of theory into real-time scenarios such as project work and collaborating with local companies, which prepares students to deal with the challenges of working life,” he says.

“I think when it comes to studying the social sciences, it’s very different compared to my home country. In Nepal, we can do self-study and appear for final exams. Write for three hours continuously and pass a subject. Here it’s kind of a circular and holistic learning process. You do a lot of written work, reading, excursions, presentations and critical analyses,” says Manoj Bhusal, a 26-year-old from Nepal, who is doing a master’s in Development Studies at the University of Helsinki and has previously studied in Diaconia University of Applied Sciences.

“To be able to sit in a multicultural class is also a huge asset. You learn about things such as naming ceremonies in Ghana to fishing culture in Iceland,” explains Manoj.