News about internationalisation


Foreign higher education students in Finland

Photo: Mikko Lehtimäki

Number of foreign degree students grows faster than other student mobility

According to statistics published by CIMO, the number of students heading abroad for a mobility period from a Finnish higher education institution or getting their entire higher education degree abroad has grown by a third in ten years. However, international exchange and degree students make up the most visible group of student mobility in Finland. They represent almost 10% of all students in Finnish higher education.

The sharpest increase has been in the number of foreign degree students in higher education, who are now twice as many as ten years ago. Finnish higher education institutions had almost 20 000 foreign degree students in 2012.

The numbers are up also for international exchange students and trainees in Finnish higher education. At nearly 10 000 in 2012, foreign degree students and international students making their way to Finland on a mobility period already account for nearly 10% of all higher education students.

In vocational education and training, the number of international students – almost 2 500 in 2012 – has remained fairly steady.

Most degree students come from outside Europe

Finland attracts students from all over the world. About 40% of the degree students are from Asia, almost an equal share come from Europe, while 14% are from Africa. The top countries of origin are Russia, China, Vietnam, Nepal and Nigeria. More students come to Finland from Asia and fewer from Europe than make their way to, for example, the Netherlands, Germany or Denmark.

Exchange students and trainees come to Finland mostly from other European countries. International mobility is especially Eurocentric in vocational education and training: 95% of the incoming students and trainees come from Europe.

Finns head mostly to other European countries

In the 2012–2013 academic year, the Finnish Social Insurance Institution Kela provided student financial aid to almost 6 000 Finnish students pursuing their entire higher education degree abroad. In addition, almost 10 000 higher education students and more than 6 000 students of vocational education and training headed abroad in 2012 for a short mobility period. The number of Finnish students abroad has grown in all three categories in the last ten years.

Finnish degree students abroad have three favourite countries: almost two thirds of all recipients of student financial aid study in Britain, Sweden or Estonia. Nearly 90% of the degree students choose to study in Europe.

Those heading abroad for a shorter mobility period in higher education also tend to stay in Europe. Germany, Spain, Britain, Sweden and France have long been, and still are, the top countries. Asia is gaining more ground, however, as more and more exchange students head to China, Thailand, Japan or Korea, for example.

Mobility periods in vocational education and training focus more clearly on Europe. The most popular target countries are Estonia, Sweden, Spain and Germany.

See also

CIMO statistics: International mobility of students

New publication: Faktaa – Facts and Figures 1B/2013: What do statistics tell us about international student mobility in Finland?

European Commission news about culture, education and youth