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The Finnish education system offers equal opportunities of high-quality basic education for everyone. Read on to learn how education works in Finland.
The Finnish education system has no dead ends. It offers everyone an equal opportunity for a high-quality basic education, with an open possibility for higher education and vocational training.
Education is free in Finland, with the cost covered by taxes (except for non-EU students’ Master’s degree studies). Finnish universities are all public and among the top 2% of international rankings.
Finnish children start learning school skills at the age of six. Pre-primary education has been compulsory since 2015, though most children enrolled in preschool even when it was voluntary.
Finnish primary education (comprehensive school) is compulsory between the ages of 7-16. A voluntary additional year of basic education is optional. There are no national standardised tests in basic education. The Finnish National Board of Education determines the national core curriculum for basic education.
Upper secondary education consists of vocational and general education tracks. The duration is approximately 3 years. More than 90 per cent in any age group starts general or vocational upper secondary studies immediately after basic education. Student selection to upper secondary schools is mainly based on the students’ grades.
Higher education has a significant role in the Finnish society. Higher education is offered by research universities and universities of applied sciences. General research universities emphasise scientific research, while universities of applied sciences are more practical. The amount of available study places is limited and requires a successful completion of the matriculation examination and entrance tests.
At universities, students can study for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. After completing a Bachelor’s degree, students may continue for their Master’s. As a rule, students are admitted to study for the Master’s degree. The average time for completing both Bachelor´s and Master’s degrees in Finland is five years. The most common pre-service requirement is a Bachelor’s degree.
For doctoral level studies or research positions in Finland, you are instructed to contact directly the university of your choice. With a Master’s degree completed, you are eligible to apply for Doctoral studies in Finland. The universities define their entry criteria independently and thus detailed requirements will vary. Student selection for post-Master's level studies and research is usually decided at the faculty level.
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