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Finland: The country is of greater interest to international students than ever before

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Finland: The country is of greater interest to international students than ever before

27 March 2023
Country news

Data on students’ residence permits from 2022 and international applications for higher education programmes in 2023 show that Finland has become a more popular destination for people who wish to study abroad

The number of international students moving to Finland has grown significantly in 2022 

In 2022, there was a significant increase in the number of international students who moved to Finland. More than 7,000 new students from outside the EU were granted a residence permit by the end of October 2022. The number of residence permits issued to students went up by 45% compared to the previous period (i.e., January-October 2021). This represents a considerable increase even in comparison with pre-COVID years. Most foreign students are coming to Finland to study at higher education institutions. 

One reason behind these figures is the reform that was introduced in April 2022. The new law has made moving to Finland from abroad simpler for students, as one can now receive a residence permit which remains valid for the entire duration of their studies. Before the reform, students could only be granted a residence permit for two years at a time. In addition, this piece of legislation has also made it easier to stay in Finland and look for employment after graduating, because it is subsequently possible to apply for a two-year residence permit for job seekers. 

According to the Finnish Immigration Service, the new rules on residence permits send a strong signal to international students that they are welcome to stay in Finland and work in the country.   

In 2023, international applications for higher education programmes have doubled  

For the 2023 session, almost 62,000 students have applied for English-taught higher education programmes through the so-called joint application system. 

Both the number and share of international applicants have been on the rise over the last few years, but on this occasion the increase was higher than ever. The share of international applications has even doubled. In fact, most of the applicants are not Finnish citizens, and more than 50,000 of them come from outside the EU/EEA. 

The interest in higher education in Finland and the growing number of applicants is due, among other things, to the above-mentioned reform of students’ residence permits. There have also been active efforts to recruit international students and develop a branding strategy for the country. 

Another factor that accounts for the higher number of foreign applicants is the introduction of the joint digital entrance exam – the International UAS exam – in 2022. Applicants only need to participate in one entrance examination, and its results are then taken into account for all the study programmes that utilize the International UAS exam. Therefore, this digital entrance examination makes it easier for international students to apply for programmes through the joint application process. 

Source: Eurydice Unit Finland 

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