First-timer quota

According to law, universities must reserve some of the study places allocated through the joint application process to individuals applying for their first higher education degree. The aim of this first-timer quota is to improve the position of those applying for their first study place.

You are applying for your first study place in higher education, in other words you are considered a first-timer, if

  • you have not completed a higher education degree in compliance with the Finnish education system, and
  • you have not accepted a study place leading to a higher education degree in compliance with the Finnish education system in education that has started in autumn 2014 or after it.

You are not considered a first-timer, if

  • you have already completed a higher education degree in compliance with the Finnish education system, or
  • you have accepted a study place in education leading to a higher education degree in autumn 2014 or after at a Finnish higher education institution (this condition applies also to transfer applications).

Non-first-timers can also apply through the joint application process, and according to the legislation, reserving starting places for first-timers may not unreasonably reduce the chances of applicants other than first-timers to obtain a study place. The first-timer quota applies only to applications to degree programmes leading to first-cycle or first-cycle and second-cycle university degrees as well as degree programmes in medicine and dentistry in the higher education joint application process. There is no first-timer quota in application for master’s programmes.

The first-timer status is determined based on the situation during the end date of the application period (in spring 2020 joint application process 1 April 2020).

Number of places reserved for first-timers

The size of the quota varies by faculty and degree programme. The amount of student intake and the number of positions reserved for first-timers can be checked under the relevant degree programme description in the degree finder.

You can also check the statistics for student admissions. The first-timer quota was introduced in the spring 2016 joint application process.

How are first-timers admitted?

As a rule, first-timers and other applicants are admitted based on the same admission criteria. For example, the entrance examination and the score for the matriculation examination are the same. Only first-time applicants compete over study places reserved for first-timers. First-timers must also meet the minimum criteria set for the degree programme (e.g., minimum score for the entrance examination) in order to be eligible for the programme.

The admission criteria for each degree programme is listed under the programme in the degree finder.

How are other applicants admitted?

The study places not reserved for first-timers will be filled from among first-timers and other applicants in ranking order based on the admission criteria.

If not enough first-time applicants have attained the minimum score required for admission to places reserved for first-timers, applicants other than first-timers may be admitted through the first-timer quota process to ensure that new study places for the degree programme are filled.

Frequently asked questions

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about being a first-time applicant and the first-timer quota. If you cannot find an answer to your question here, please contact  Admission Services.

Question: I applied for higher education in spring 2015 and was offered a study place but did not accept it. Am I still considered a first-timer?
Answer: Yes. If you do not have a prior degree and you have not accepted another study place, you are still considered a first-timer. Simple applying for or being admitted do not affect the first-timer status.

Question: I have accepted a study place prior to 2014 but I have not completed a degree. Am I a first-timer?
Answer: Yes. According to the legislation, you are a first-timer.

Question: I have graduated from a Finnish university or a university of applied sciences before 2014. Am I considered a first-timer if I apply again to higher education?
Answer: You are not a first-timer. According to the legislation, higher education graduates are not considered first-timers regardless of when they have completed their degree, if their degree is based on the Finnish higher education system. 

Question: I have accepted a study place in 2014 or later. If I give up my right to study will I regain first-timer status?
Answer: No. You cannot regain first-timer status by giving up your right to study.

Question: I have studied at the Open University but I have never had a right to complete a degree at a higher education institution. Am I a first-timer?
Answer: Yes. Studying at the Open University does not affect your first-timer status.

Question: Can a student have a right to complete a degree at two different higher education institutions simultaneously?
Answer: Yes. However, when it comes to education beginning in the same term, you can only accept one study place leading to a higher education degree.

Question: I have accepted a study place leading to a higher education degree abroad or I have completed a higher education degree abroad. Am I a first-timer?
Answer: Yes. According to the legislation, only degrees and rights to complete a degree based on the Finnish higher education system affect first-timer status.

Question: I was not admitted to my first-choice programme. Should I accept admission to my second-choice study place?
Answer: You should accept the study place if you plan on studying the discipline and completing a degree in it. However, if you want to apply to another degree programme later, changing disciplines or studying for another degree will remain a possibility even if you no longer belong to the first-timer quota. You should not accept a study place if you do not intend to study in the programme.

Question: I originally began my studies before 2014, but have accepted a study place through the transfer admissions procedure in 2014 or after. Am I a first-timer?
Answer: You are not a first-timer. The rule on accepting study places also applies to transfer admissions.