After completing the compulsory nine-year primary and lower secondary education, students are eligible for general upper secondary education and vocational upper secondary education and training. One of the objectives of education policy is to make upper secondary education accessible to all members of every age group.
After the extension of compulsory education the first of August 2021 all pupils, who have finished the primary and lower secondary level education have to apply for further studies to upper secondary education. The reform ensures that all those who complete compulsory school education have the knowledge, skills and competence required for upper secondary education. After the reform the compulsory education lasts till a student will be 18 years or has finished upper secondary level education.
The upper secondary education, similarly, as the single-structure primary and lower secondary education, is free of charge. After the extension of compulsory education, almost all teaching and learning materials are also provided at no cost.
After completing the single-structure primary and lower secondary education 15-16 -year-olds have to continue to general or vocational upper secondary education. Both pathways give eligibility for higher education and typically take 3 years.
General upper secondary studies or the syllabus of general upper secondary education can also be studied at the general upper secondary schools for adults, where the teaching takes place mostly in the evenings. The general upper secondary schools for adults follow the national core curriculum designed specifically for adult education. The number of demanded study units in this curriculum is less than in the curriculum for young, which is studied at day schools for general upper secondary education and happen in daytime.
This chapter is divided into three parts:
- General upper secondary education
- Vocational upper secondary education and training (VET)
- Post-secondary non-tertiary education.
In 2023, 52,3% of students who completed primary and lower secondary education started studies at a general upper secondary school, 39,8% started in vocational upper secondary education and training, 6,9% continued to educational programs that do not lead to a qualification (such as preparatory education for programs leading to an upper secondary qualification), and 1% either did not participate in an education program within the scope of compulsory education or were temporarily non-attending students.
|General upper secondary education
|Vocational upper secondary education and training
|Educational programmes that do not lead to a qualification
|Not in an education programme within the scope of compulsory education or a non-attending student
Table 6. Direct transition to upper secondary level after the completion of the single-structure primary and lower secondary education 2023 (%), Tilastopalvelu Vipunen (last accessed 2.1.2024).