Countries Where You Can Study for Free in 2016


Are you interested in studying abroad at no cost? Then, you will love this column. In the past, a good number of European countries which are members of the European Union (EU) offered tuition free education that enabled foreign students to enjoy quality education for free. Today, this is changing gradually as most of these countries have started charging tuition fees. Just recently, the Government of Sweden declared to stop granting tuition free education to foreigners. Before this declaration, this country has indeed helped a good number of international students to study at no cost. Those who got the information grabbed the opportunity while others were left behind due to lack of information or perhaps inadequate knowledge of the procedures. As these European countries stopped granting tuition free education

to international students, few countries in Europe didn’t stop! This column will take a look at the countries that offers free university education and what it takes to get there. In this edition, we’ll be looking at finland.


Studying in Finland

Thousands of international students head to Finland each year to take advantage of the no-cost education at over a dozen universities. Finland also boasts an impressive roster of institutes of technology for the scientifically inclined.

Finland is situated in northern Europe and its neighboring countries are Sweden, Norway and Russia.

Studying: Countries Where You Can Study for Free in 2016

Finland represents both the Nordic democracy and its way of life as a member of the European Union. Equality is the essential driving force there.

They have one of the most advanced educational systems in the world, and as a result of their innovative mindset and investment in education, they are blessed with a high standard of living and quality of life.

Newsweek magazine rated Finland as the best country in the world to live in and the capital Helsinki came out top among the major cities rated in Monocle magazine’s Quality of Life Survey. Finland’s high educational standards were cited among the crucial factors in both of these comparative surveys.

Whilst being a globally leading country in the field of information technology, Finland also boasts gender equality and low levels of corruption. As a society it is transparent and open, and education is always considered to be a top-priority.

For an international student Finland is both an exotic and a safe target country.

High tech and the midnight sun – a country of contrast

Studying in Finland

The country is full of contrasts, making it an interesting destination. They have four distinct seasons, and they get to enjoy phenomena such as the midnight sun in the summer and the polar night in the winter. Large rural areas and the highest technology within reach can be found all around Finland, in the north and south alike; development has spread everywhere without eating away Finland’s beautiful nature.

Their emphasis on nature makes Finland stand out from other European countries. They breathe clean air, and drink clean tap water. Nature is an integral part of the Finnish way of life for a very simple reason: it is everywhere.

There are currently no tuition fees charged in Finland, regardless of the level of studies and the nationality of the student however tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students will be introduced from autumn 2017 onwards for English-taught Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes. Doctoral level studies will remain free of tuition fees.

Remember that even when there are no tuition fees, you still need to plan your finances – you are expected to independently cover all your everyday living expenses during your studies in Finland.

Cost of Studying in Finland: Estimated living expenses of a single student in Finland average around 500-800 Euros per month.

Your steps to Finland

Studying in Finland

Interested in studying in Finland? Not sure how to proceed? Below you can find the essential things to consider in a nutshell!

  1. Find the right degree programme
    Start by mapping out your study interests and deciding which particular institution and degree course you wish to apply to.

This first step is an important one, since having a specific goal in mind assists you in your search for additional information.

In Finland, there are two kinds of higher education institutions – universities and universities of applied science, UAS (polytechnics).

The Finnish universities and UAS’s offer a large number of English-taught degree courses on Bachelor’s, Master’ and Doctoral level.

2. Check the entry requirements
Once you have decided where you wish to apply to, you can start searching for detailed information.

Entry requirements are always degree course specific. You must therefore check the detailed requirements on the university/UAS websites.

3. Check how and when to apply
The starting point for submitting Bachelor’s and Master’s applications is the website. The application period however depends on the degree course.

4. Plan your finances
If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen, you usually need a student residence permit before you can go to Finland. Make sure you understand the difference between a short-term visa and a student residence permit.


  1. Visa / Student residence permit
    Short-term visa is if you will be staying in Finland for less than 3 months. Student residence permit is if you will be staying in Finland for long time for academic reason.

You can only apply for a student residence permit after you have been officially admitted to a Finnish university or UAS.

When applying for a student residence permit, you must have a valid health insurance, and you must also show that you have enough financing to cover your living costs.

6. Accommodation and other practicalities
When you have been admitted, you can start arranging the practical aspects of your arrival and student life in Finland. Your hosting Finnish institution can advice you best on local student accommodation options and other such matters.

7. Where to turn if you need advice?

You can find most of your general questions answered on the website the advice above. You might wish to see our FAQ section too.

Also remember to read through all the advice given on the universities’ own web sites!

If you have questions…

  • About your application or your eligibility (including possible entrance exam questions) – please contact the Admissions Services of the university/UAS you’re applying to
  • About visas & student residence permits – please contact the nearest Finnish embassy or the Finnish Immigration Service Migri 
  • About general matters concerning studying in Finland – you can contact – or on Facebook

Universities in Finland

Studying in Finland

Once you have decided where you might wish to study, you should go through the Admissions information pages of that particular university. The institutions’ websites are your best source of detailed admissions advice, information on entry requirements, etc.

Before filling in any application forms

Studying in Finland

Preparing your groundwork properly makes the application process easier for you!

It is important that you take some time to consider where exactly you wish to apply to. Browse through the available options, and decide which particular degree courses interest you the most.

This not only helps you focus your application to those particular degree courses that would be relevant for you, it also makes it easier and more straightforward for you to find out about details like

  • entry requirements
  • application period start and related deadlines
  • the required documentation, etc.

Remember that these details are degree course specific, so once you know exactly where you want to apply, you only need to find out the relevant information concerning those particular courses.

How to apply for Bachelor’s level studies in Finland

Studying in Finland

  • Bachelor’s level degree courses in English are mainly offered at polytechnics/UAS’s
  • applications are made at the joint application site
  • check all the admission-related details directly with the institution you’re applying to

Application route

Applications are started on-line via the joint application pages. You can also find information and advice on the institutions’ own Admissions pages.

UAS Bachelor’s admission procedures include an entrance exam. It is not advisable to use the services of any educational consultancies or agencies when submitting your application. You are best advised to submit your application independently.

Application period

The exact application period depends on the Bachelor’s – note that the following is therefore only a rough guideline. For detailed application period information, please refer to the application site, or the Admissions pages of the university/UAS in question.

1) UAS Bachelor’s degree courses

Most of the UAS Bachelor’s degree courses are applied to in the joint application system, which means that the main application period is in January annually, for studies commencing in autumn.

A small number of UAS Bachelor’s may also offer a spring term intake option, for which applications are usually made in September.

There may be exceptions to this, so you should always check the exact application period and application deadline with the UAS you are interested in. Please refer to the Admissions pages of the UAS.

2) University Bachelor’s degree courses

There are only a few arts and science university Bachelor’s degree courses available in English. You apply to these via the same page as with the UAS Bachelors, but the application period may vary. So always check the details with the university!

How to look for degree courses currently open for applications

  • go to the application site
  • click on Search on the front page
  • choose filter ‘Application period ongoing’

If you have questions relating to your application or the required enclosures:

  • you should first check if the answer can be found on the Admissions Pages of the institutions or on the application site.

Should you not find an answer there, then please contact the Admissions Office of the university/UAS you are interested in applying to. You can find the Admissions Offices’ contact details on the institutions’ own websites.

If you have a technical issue with your application, or need to ask about the application fee:

Please first carefully read the advice on the application site. If that does not answer your question, you are advised to contact the admins. Use the email address on their Application fee page.

Good luck with your application!

Studying in Finland

Tuition and scholarships

  • there are currently no tuition fees charged in Finland
  • tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students will however be introduced from autumn 2017 onwards
  • you will need to cover all your living expenses independently
  • at the moment, scholarships are mainly only available for Doctoral / PhD level

Plan your student financing carefully – even with no tuition fees, you will need financing!

One important aspect of study or research in Finland is considering how to finance your studies. At the moment, tuition itself is free of charge in Finland. Non-EU/EEA studens will however be charged tuition fees from autumn 2017 onwards – for more information on tuition fee matters, please refer to the section Tuition fees.

Even though there are currently no tuition fees charged, you will need to be able to cover your everyday living expences like food, accommodation, travel, insurance, etc.

How much money will you need?

We recommend that you reserve at least 700-900 euros per month for your living expenses in Finland. The minimum amount to have at your disposal, as required by the immigration authorities, is currently 560 euros per month / 6720 euros per year. In addition to this, you should be prepared to cover your travel costs, insurance etc. independently.

Please carefully read the sections:

Can I earn extra money by working during studies?

Part-time work is allowed for students – but part-time work may not be easy to find especially if you do not know Finnish/Swedish. That’s why you should not base your financial plans solely on the option of finding part-time employment during your studies. Please refer to the section Working during studies for some information and advice concerning this!

Scholarship options available for Doctoral (PhD) level

Scholarships in Finland are currently available mainly only for Doctoral level studies and research – for example the CIMO scholarship options. Please refer to the left-hand margin menu for information on different scholarship options.

Remember that first of all, you need to apply for a study/research placement – see section Doctoral admissions for advice & links to the universities’ Doctoral Admissions pages!

Scholarships for Bachelor’s and Master’s level degree studies?

Currently, it may be very difficult to find any scholarships from Finland for Bachelor’s or Master’s level studies. So you should be prepared to cover all your living expenses independently.

In the Erasmus Mundus Master’s programmes, scholarships are available. They are always applied via the university consortium offering the Erasmus Mundus programme in question (this is not necessarily a Finnish university!). Please also see the section concerning EU scholarships.

Some individual Finnish universities may offer a small amount of institutional scholarships of their own for their international Master’s students. Please turn to the universities’ own websites to check if such options are offered by the university.

You might wish to check if you would be eligible to apply for some “study abroad” scholarships in your home country, and from international organisations and foundations. For information on these, please turn to the educational advisers and authorities in your home country. See also the Other sources of funding section on this site.

Also, if full degree studies are not an option for you, you could check if there are some student exchange options open for you. See section Exchange programmes

Scholarships for post-Doctoral studies and research?

CIMO (Study in Finland) has no scholarshipsor other funding opportunities for post-Doc level students and researchers. You can refer to the section Other sources of funding for some links that might help you forward in this regard (for example the Academy of Finland website.

Brazilian post-Doc researchers can profit from the Ciëncia sem Fronteiras PhD and post-Doc programme administered by the Academy of Finland.

Also Read: The Most Powerful Career Advice Every College Student Needs To Know

Living in Finland

Studying in Finland

Whether you are just considering studies in Finland, or have already been accepted to a degree programme at a Finnish university or polytechnic/UAS, in this section you can find some important information and issues you should consider before your arrival and also during your stay in Finland.

This section briefly lists the essential things you need to take into account, and then directs you to the right sources for detailed information. Please refer to the subsections to learn more!

You should bear in mind, however, that a single web page like this can not be all-encompassing source of information on these issues. These pages can only provide you with general outlines. For example, the detailed requirements and ways to proceed in these issues may depend on your nationality. Therefore, it is essential that you always check with the appropriate authorities in Finland or your home country which rules and procedures concern you, in your particular situation.

Other sources of information

Studying in Finland

In addition to the general links provided on these pages, you can also find useful information from:

  • The university/UAS you will be studying at (many higher education institutions and student unions provide ‘welcome guides’ and tutoring services for international students)
  • The web site of the city/town you’ll be living in (public transport, sports facilities, medical services, etc.)

Social media, Internet discussion boards

Studying in Finland

You can find student groups on websites like Facebook, or on various different web discussion boards. This kind of ‘peer-to-peer information’ you may find on web forums can be quite helpful, however, when it comes to important matters like application requirements or visas/residence permits, it is always recommended you check with the relevant authorities whether the information you have received on an informal web

Working During studies

Many higher education students in Finland work part-time at some stage of their studies. This can mean part-time work either in the evenings, or during weekends. Additionally, most students try and find a summer job for the months from June to late August, outside the term times.

Keep in mind however that it is not necessarily easy to find a part-time job, especially if you do not have Finnish language skills (or Swedish language skills, in some areas of Finland). Generally speaking, you should not count on part-time work as your only source of financing your studies, since it cannot be guaranteed that you will be able to find a part-time job, or that your part-time job would earn you so much that you would be able to cover all your living expenses with your salary.

But please do not let the above discourage you from seeking part-time jobs – remember that a lot also depends on your own skills and initiative in locating possible employers.

How much am I allowed to work during my studies?


If you are a Nordic or EU/EEA national, you do not need any special permits for working in Finland during your studies. There are no restrictions as to how many hours per week you are allowed to work, but you should take care that work does not get in the way of your study progress.

Non-EU students can work within certain limits on a student residence permit if the work is practical training included in the degree or if the amount of part-time work does not exceed 25 hours a week. There are no limits in terms of hours on full-time work outside term times (summer and Christmas holidays specifically).

For more information about work regulations concerning international students, see the web service of the Finnish Immigration Service Migri.

Where to look for jobs

When looking for a part-time job, it is usually best to “think locally”. That is, you should actively seek out options and contact potential employers in the town/area you are studying in.

Although the Career Services of your hosting Finnish institution do not usually act as part-time job recruitment agencies, you might contact them for advice on possible local part-time employment opportunities, and general tips on job hunting in Finland. Please refer to the web site of your institution for more information, or check out the hints and contacts on the following pages:

You can also visit the local employment office for advice and there are some commercial recruitment agencies available. Job vacancies are announced mainly through on-line services, but you can also find some job adverts in the newspapers.

Many jobs, however, are not announced publicly; instead, vacancies may be filled through unofficial channels. Your chances may improve if you keep it in mind that your own initiative is one of the key factors. Although employment and career services or job recruitment agencies can assist you, they can not arrange a job for you on your behalf while you “sit home and wait”, you also need to be active yourself. In addition to contacting potential employers, you are advised to

  • Exchange information and experiences with your fellow students
  • Use your social networks
  • Get acquainted with the ‘Finnish customs’ of job searching (how to present yourself to a potential employer, how to write your cv, and so on)
  • Remember that few students get lucky first time – do not be too discouraged if you are


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