Finland needs the contribution of international professionals

Changes to the demographics of our country pose a genuine challenge to future welfare. Tangible measures are crucial in ensuring that we have a sufficiently extensive pool of skilled professionals, one such measure being better employment opportunities for international students in Finland.

The Finnish government intends not only to make the entry of international students into the country a smoother process, but also to extend the validity of the residence permits granted to them. In its government programme, Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government has set as one of its objectives the granting of residence permits for the full period of studies so that the validity of the permit can be extended by two years after graduation.

It is important to have this objective met. A residence permit valid for two years or more after graduation for the purposes of looking for work or starting a business will give graduates time to embark on a career in Finland.

Surveys show that most international students who complete a degree in Finland would also like to stay on to work here. However, at the moment their employment opportunities are not what they could be due to a lack of networks, traineeship opportunities and proficiency in the Finnish language.

Of all degree students at the University of Helsinki, almost 2,000 have an international background, and that number is expected to grow. We are doing our best to help these experts find work, for example, in the form of a traineeship programme dedicated specifically to international students. The four-month-long traineeships at University units provide students with valuable work experience and a chance to familiarise themselves with Finnish professional life.

International students enrich the University community. They can also offer fresh perspectives and attractive skills to other potential employers throughout Finland. This is why I am inviting all Finnish employers, from municipalities and businesses to NGOs, to offer traineeships or jobs to international students!

In addition to improving Finland’s economic dependency ratio and competitiveness, international experts promote the diversity and regeneration of our society. In the 2020s, our success will, above all, be affected by whether we have the courage to welcome new influences and people or whether we retreat into our shell.


Jari Niemelä


University of Helsinki


On 11 February 2020, the Forum for International Policies in Higher Education and Research set up by the Ministry of Education and Culture published the objectives for policies to promote internationalisation in Finnish higher education and research (description sheet available in English), which should be achieved by 2025. One of the objectives is for international higher education graduates to reach the same rate of employment as Finnish graduates.