Foreign student number in Finland rises despite introduction of university tuition fees

Source: Xinhua| 2019-12-27 03:14:52|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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HELSINKI, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- The international attractiveness of Finland as a place for higher studies appears to have recovered fast from the 2017 introduction of tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students.

Finnish authorities said recently that the number of foreign students began to rise and is still rising.

Tuition fees have been requested from non-EU/EEA students by Finnish universities from the autumn of 2017, due to which the number of foreign students in Finland initially reduced after continuous growth for a decade. However, Birgitta Vuorinen, a director in the higher education policy sector at the Finnish Ministry of Education, was quoted by local news agency STT on Thursday as saying that the impact was "less than expected".

According to both Finnish Immigration Service and the Ministry of Education, the number of applications to Finnish universities began increasing again, and at least in the Helsinki area and in Eastern Finland the number has this year exceeded the levels preceding the launch of tuition fees.

Before the autumn of 2017 Finnish universities were free to all, irrespective of nationality. The introduction of tuition fees to foreign students was related to the change in financing. While universities were fully budgeted by the state earlier, successive governments committed them to obtaining financing on their own, through partnerships and donations. Foreign students were then seen as a source of revenue.

Finnish officials said earlier that following the introduction of the tuition fees, students' arrivals from Russia declined the most.

However, University of Helsinki told STT on Thursday that since the introduction of the fees, the "country base" has become wider, with students from over 20 new countries coming.

According to Vuorinen, this situation shows that the quality of Finnish education and Finland as a society are valued abroad.

"Finnish education is of high quality, tuition fees are reasonable and scholarships are available," she added.

Vuorinen attributed the rise in numbers to enhanced marketing efforts of universities in foreign countries. "Also English language programs were developed to meet the needs of international demand," she said.

The tuition fees in Finland vary between 8,000 and 18,000 euros per year, depending on the subjects taken. Tuition remains free, if the non-EU/EEA student is able to attend teaching given in Finnish or Swedish language though.