Finnish education system

The Finnish education system consists of

  • Basic or comprehensive education that provides general education and lasts nine years; children have a right for preschool education that lasts one year before that.
  • Education after basic education that includes vocational basic education and upper secondary education, both of which usually last 3 years.
  • Higher education that is provided in polytechnics and universities.

Those who have completed a vocational qualification have a basic vocational competence and skills required for working in the field. Earlier studies and work experience may reduce the study time.

Polytechnics provide practical education that meets the needs of working life. Completing a polytechnic degree takes 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years. Universities focus on scientific research and the related education.

Adult education is also commonplace in Finland. Adult education takes into account the student's previous knowledge, skills and life situation and integrates it into the contents and organisation of studies. Adult education is available on all educational levels.

Studying in Finnish educational institutes is generally free. When you are studying, you may receive a study grant from Kela. Source: www.oph.fi

Joint application process and applying for education

Basic vocational qualifications, institutes of higher education and universities have separate application processes. Most schools are part of the joint application process. The joint application process takes place twice a year; education applied for in the joint application process in the spring begins in the autumn and the education applied for in the autumn in the following January, respectively. If the applicant does not have a certificate of Finnish basic education, he or she can apply in the flexible application process.

More information on application times and matters related to applying as well as application forms are available at the Employment and Economic Development Office, educational institutes or their web pages. Applying for education in a foreign language usually takes place directly with the relevant education provider. Courses of vocational education institutes in foreign languages may involve a language proficiency test to find out whether the applicant possesses the language skills required for the studies. Application forms for direct application to education outside the joint application process can be obtained from the education provider. The websites of educational institutes may also have electronic application forms included.

Information about applying for basic qualifications in English is available at:

See also: www.infopankki.fi Finland in your language

Viimeksi muokattu: 28.9.2015