Studying in Finland
Thinking about studying in Finland? Nearly 90% of the international students at the University of Helsinki recommend their studies in Finland for a reason. Find out what the university and country have to offer when it comes to education and a way of life as well as some tips to make your move easier.
Why study in Finland?

Finland has been chosen several times as one of the happiest countries in the world thanks to the high quality of life and overall stability. It is also one of the safest countries in the world where the values of equality, integrity, and openness are important.

The Finnish education system is considered to be one of the most advanced in the world and schoolchildren have excelled in PISA surveys for several years.

As a nation, Finland is simultaneously at the forefront of technology and still has its roots deep in nature. It is the most heavily forested country in Europe with wide-ranging rights for everyone to explore nature and enjoy outdoor activities.

Nature is also an essential part of the capital, Helsinki. It is a safe and compact city by the sea with both urban culture and nature at your doorstep. With more than 70 000 university students, it offers many leisure activities and services for students.

The University of Helsinki operates on four campuses in Helsinki. In addition, the university operates at 15 other locations in Finland and abroad.

Find out more about Helsinki as a student city.

What makes Finland's education system one of the best?

From the first lessons in elementary school to specialising in your field of interest at university, the Finnish education system is widely recognised for its greatness.

What are the key elements that helped Finland progress from austere conditions to the global forefront? An equal school system, high regard for teachers and top-quality teaching have played a significant role in the process.

Find out more about Finland’s world-famous education system:

  • "Education lif­ted Fin­land out of poverty, but we need to keep de­vel­op­ing to re­main at the cut­ting edge". In this interview, professor of educational psychology Kirsti Lonka talks about what makes Finland's education system so special. Watch the video or read the article.
     
  • "The long-term ap­proach is a win­ning as­set for the Finnish education sys­tem". In this interview, professor of education Jari Lavonen talks about the strengths of the Finnish education system. Read the article.

As the University of Helsinki is one of the world's top 1% universities and renowned for high-quality teaching and research, it is an excellent place to experience the Finnish education system.

Studying at the University of Helsinki

At the University of Helsinki, Finnish equality shows in a flat hierarchy. Students and researchers work together on the campuses, and international students often mention the easily approachable professors and teachers.

Another often mentioned feature of studying at the University of Helsinki is the freedom to tailor your studies. However, this also requires being independent and taking responsibility for your own studies.

According to our international students:

-"There’s a lot of freedom at the University of Helsinki, which can be good or bad — you’re able to tailor your studies much more personally, but there’s also more room for self-doubt and procrastination."

-“You don’t have to address your teachers with their titles. You are treated more as a peer than as a student: instead of being told to sit down and listen, you can have real scientific discussions with your teachers.”

-"I have a lot of freedom. Although I have some mandatory courses, I am able to choose and schedule the courses I take myself. This means I have a lot of responsibility, but also that I can make my studies suit my needs."

-“At the University of Helsinki, they trust the students. You are treated as a professional. It’s amazing."

-"In Finland, students are valued as assets. They are given countless opportunities to study whatever interests them, both in Finland and abroad. It is up to the student to pursue these opportunities and tailor the degree toward their needs and ambitions."

I was used to a rigorous cycle of study and examination, and that isn’t how it works here. There’s little to no emphasis on memorizing facts or sitting exams, but rather being able to speak about a topic in an informed manner based on independent reading.
You can easily connect with the teachers. You don’t just have to sit down and listen. Instead, you can have real conversations.
Moving to Finland

Starting your studies and a new life in another country can be very exciting. At the same, it can be slightly intimidating and tiring as it requires being very independent and involves a lot of administrative tasks.

This list includes a few things that hopefully help with making everything go as smoothly as possible before and upon your arrival in Helsinki.

What are all the actions that you need to take before and upon arrival in Finland? The Uni Arrival Advisor is a simple electronic service that will guide you through the process. Answer the questions on the Uni Arrival Advisor and you will get a checklist of the necessary steps to take before and upon your arrival to Helsinki, Finland.

Go to Uni Arrival Advisor.

In the Studies Service, you can find lots of information for new students about residence permits, housing and all types of other tasks that are required when moving to Finland and starting studying at the University of Helsinki. 

Find answers to all your questions about moving to and living in Finland! InfoFinland provides information about housing, work, health care, leisure, Finnish culture and much more. You can use this website in 12 languages.

Find out more at InfoFinland.

Are you planning to move to Helsinki? InfoFinland provides information about Helsinki and its services for newcomers.

It is easy to get by in Finland with English as the Finnish people are among the best non-native English speakers in the world*. However, learning the local language will make your stay more rewarding and gives you more career options.

Finland is officially a bilingual country with Finnish (95%) and Swedish (5%). Finnish is part of the Finno-Ugric family of languages, and the structure and vocabulary are very different from the Indo-European languages. But it doesn't mean that it is difficult - it is merely different!

A Taste of Finnish is an online course that has been designed especially for students planning to come and study at the University of Helsinki for a term or longer. It gives a good picture of the Finnish language and a toolbox for simple everyday situations with the Finns – a taste of Finnish.

For enrolled exchange, visiting and international degree students, the University of Helsinki offers free Finnish language courses. They are a fun way to learn the language and network with other students across the fields, and you to get to know the culture as well.

*EF English Proficiency Index

"I have been learning Finnish since I started my studies at the University of Helsinki. The only problem is that sometimes it’s hard to practise my language skills because everyone knows English so well!"

Our students can tell you about their own experiences and give some tips via chat or you can read their blogs.

Chat with our students or read their blogs.

All new Bachelor's and Master's students at the University of Helsinki are assigned a tutor (or a peer counsellor) and a tutoring group based on their study programme and faculty. The tutors assist the new students during their first days and during the orientation week with practical things like registering as a resident, where to get a student travel card and what are the most important services on the campuses. Tutors contact the students before the orientation week starts.

Tutoring is a good introduction to the Finnish university life and makes it easier to settle into the new environment and get in contact with other students.

Read more about tutoring on the Instructions for students -website.

Each autumn and spring, before the semester and the classes begin, there is an orientation period full of activities for all new international degree and exchange students. It will make it easier to start your studies and life in Helsinki as you will get to know the university campuses and facilities, and get support with administrative matters.

The orientation activities include tutoring, introduction meetings with your own study programme or faculty and the Welcome Fair. 

At the Welcome Fair you can get a lot of the official paperwork and admin done, but also get information about language courses and various university services like UniSport, the University Library, the Finnish Student Health Service and the Study Psychologists. And most importantly, you will meet new people while talking to people from the Student Union and other student organisations. 

Read more about the orientation period and the Welcome Fair.

When arriving in Helsinki, it is easy to get around by public transport in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The Helsinki public transport system has been named the 2nd best among European cities, with a highly effective public transport system of metro, tram, bus and train lines.

If you prefer cycling, an extensive bike share system with over 250 bike stations and more than 2 500 bikes is available from April to October.

Go to the route planner of public transport in Helsinki at the HSL website.

Read more about student fares in public transport and other student benefits. Please note that a valid student card is required to get the discount.

During the first week of the academic year, you can easily recognise all staff by a pink logo. They are there to help and support you with any study related issues. The ASK ME! campaign welcomes new students to the university community and makes it easier to ask for help.

For the rest of the year, you can turn to the student service points on each campus. They provide services for all students at the University of Helsinki the whole year around. Find the contact details for the student service points.

You can also visit the Guidance Corner, a low-threshold student space where it is easy to get assistance in matters related to studying, at the Kaisa House Library at the City Centre Campus. You can get advice and guidance services on, for example, wellbeing, digital skills, legal protection and job seeking – and even weekly energising exercise breaks. You can also pop by for subsistence guidance or tips on house hunting. Check the programme for the Guidance Corner.

Fin­land in 100 seconds

Finland is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. It has been an independent state since 6 December 1917 when Helvi was only two and a half weeks old. A lot has happened since then.

Watch the story of Finland in 100 seconds through the eyes of six different generations. Video by Finland Toolbox, published by the Finland Promotion Board.

Facts about Finland:

  • Population: 5.5 million
  • Area: 338,440 km², the 8th largest country in Europe
  • Currency: Euro
  • Form of government: Republic, parliamentary democracy. Member of United Nations since 1955 and European Union since 1995. 

Finland is:

  • one of the safest countries in the world.
  • the world leader at teaching skills for the future.
  • top 1 in Europe when it comes to the best-performing graduates.
  • at the top worldwide when it comes to primary education.
  • the world’s second best country for girls.
  • in top 3 when it comes to press freedom in the world.
  • the country with the most forests in Europe.
  • the land of a thousand lakes, more exactly 187 888 of them.