HELSINKI, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Tuition-paying students from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area have not so far become a tangible additional source of revenue to Finnish institutions of higher education.
Net income from the non-EU/EEA enrollment in 13 Finnish universities and 23 applied sciences institutions during 2017 amounted to 2.7 million euros (3.1 million U.S. dollars), news agency USU reported on Monday.
The income is minute in comparison to the 2.5 billion euros of government funding budgeted annually for the institutions, USU noted.
Only under 20 percent of the institutions told USU that foreign interest in studying in Finland had declined. But the revenue did not match the enrollment on account of generous scholarship policies.
USU attributed the generous scholarship programs to the fear that students would otherwise go to other countries. The Ministry of Education has since urged that scholarship criteria should reflect the aims of legislation.
Criteria have varied. In some locations all first-year students have been given free tuition, while in others only the best students have been awarded scholarships.
There were under 23,000 foreign students studying in Finland in 2017, Seven percent of the total and 77 percent of them were not from the EU/EEA. The largest countries of origin were Russia, China, Vietnam and Nepal.
The current legislation that took effect in 2017 excluded the non-EU/EEA students from the Finnish free education benefits. Meanwhile, courses given in Finnish or Swedish are free of charge.
USU said a proven interest in learning Finnish or Swedish is being promoted as a way to get scholarships and reduce the need to pay fees. The change also backs the government policy to boost employment in Finland for the would-be graduates.