Saturday, May 30, 2009

Higher education in Finland

There are two sectors in the tertiary education: universities and polytechnics. When recruiting new students, the national matriculation examination and entrance examinations are used as criteria for student selection.

The focus for universities is research, and they give a more theoretical education. The polytechnics focus on practical skills and seldom pursue research, but they do engage in industry development projects. For example, physicians are university graduates, whereas basic nurses are polytechnic graduates. (However, universities do award advanced degrees in Nursing Science.) The vocational schools and polytechnics are governed by municipalities, or, in special cases, by private entities. (As an exception to the rule, Police College is governed by the Ministry of the Interior.)

A bachelor's degree takes about three–four years. Depending on the programme, this may be the point of graduation, but it is usually only an intermediate step towards the master's degree. A polytechnic degree, on the other hand, takes about 3.5–4.5 years. A degree from a polytechnic is not, however, considered legally equivalent to a lower university degree in the Finnish system. Outside of Finland, polytechnic degrees are generally accepted as lower university degrees.

Polytechnic-graduated Bachelors are able to continue their studies by applying to Master's degree programmes in universities. These take two years in general, but the polytechnic graduates are often required to undertake perhaps a year's worth of additional studies to bring them up to the level of university graduates.

The Bologna process has progressively lowered the amount of required additional studies and in some cases no additional studies are required. After polytechnic graduates have completed three year's work experience in their field, they are also qualified to apply for polytechnic master's degree-programmes (lower university degree graduates are qualified also, but with additional studies) which are work-oriented — not academic.

The polytechnic Master's degree programme takes two years and can be undertaken in conjunction with regular work. Unlike the bachelor's, a master's degree graduate from a polytechnic is considered equivalent to an academic master's graduate in a related field. After the master's, the remaining degrees (Licentiate and Doctor) are available only in universities. The polytechnic master's degree does not qualify its recipient for graduate studies at doctoral level.

In universities, membership in the students' union is compulsory. Students' unions of polytechnics are similarly recognized in the legislation, but membership is voluntary and does not include special university student health care. Finnish students are entitled to a student benefit, which may be revoked if there is a persistent lack of progress in the studies. The benefit is often insufficient and thus students usually work to help fund their studies. State-guaranteed student loans are also available.

Some universities provide professional degrees in such fields as engineering and medicine. They have additional requirements in addition to merely completing the studies, such as demonstrations of competence in practice.

Source: Wikipedia, published under Gnu Free Documentation License

University of Helsinki


The University of Helsinki with about 38,000 students is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available. Admission to the university is selective - circa 15% of the yearly applicants are admitted and the admission is based on the result of admission examinations organized by the faculties and departments. The university is bilingual meaning teaching is provided both in Finnish and Swedish. In addition, many MA programmes are taught in English.

The University of Helsinki is located on four main campuses both in the centre of the city and in the outer ranges of Helsinki. Historically, the city center campus has been the center of activities since the 19th century. Nowadays, the the faculties of Theology, Law, Arts, Behavioural Sciences and Social Sciences plus administrative functions are located in the centre of Helsinki. Faculty of Science is located in Kumpula Campus area, four kilometers from the centre of Helsinki. The Faculty of Medicine is a part of the Meilahti Hospital District in north-west of the city centre. The Viikki campus is located in a semi-rural area of Viikki some 8 kilometres north-east of the city centre. It houses the Faculties of Agriculture and Forestry, Biosciences, Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy.

Faculties of University of Helsinki

The university is organized in eleven faculties:
  • Faculty of Theology
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Pharmacy
  • Faculty of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Behavioral Sciences
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Application period

The international application period for the English-speaking Bachelor's and all Master’s level studies at University of Helsinki is closed for 2009. The next application period (for  studies starting in the autumn of 2010) will begin in mid-November 2009 and closes on February 1, 2010.

The University of Helsinki has only one application period per year for undergraduate (students applying for a Bachelor's programme) and graduate students (students applying for a Master's programme).The online applicant e-registration can be accessed during the application period only.

The application deadlines for postgraduate applicants (holders of a Master’s degree or equivalent, applying for a PhD programme) vary according to the individual Faculty. More information is available at the postgraduate applicants webpages.

Undergraduate applicants

International undergraduate applicants are required to have completed secondary education (high school or upper/senior secondary school) and possess university eligibility in their home country.

It is important to note that admission to undergraduate programmes (leading to a Bachelor's degree) is only via an entrance examination in Finnish or Swedish. No entrance examinations are arranged in English, with the sole exception of the English Philology major.

For an extensive description on how to apply to various Faculties when you wish to attend a programme in Finnish or Swedish.

Graduate applicants

Students who already hold a Bachelor degree or are regarded as graduate applicants. Some regular Master's level programmes and, especially, all International Master's Degree Programmes offer graduate studies fully in English. There is no entrance examination for admission – graduate applicants are accepted on the basis of their current degree, motivation and language skills.

In addition, the Faculty of Law (LL.M. Diploma Programme) offers a further education programme in English. The LL.M. Diploma Programme is liable to charges.