News about internationalisation


The number of Finnish students abroad is growing, the number of international students in Finland is estimated to go down

There are now more Finnish degree students in universities abroad than before, CIMO’s newly published statistics reveal. In the academic year 2015/2016, almost 8,000 Finns – a third of which are first-year students – were studying abroad. The number of international degree students in Finnish higher education has grown somewhat, too: in 2015, their number was 20,350. However, it seems that fewer students have applied to study in Finland this autumn than the year before.

CIMO publishes annual statistics on international mobility of students, collecting its data through its own surveys, Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (student grant data), Statistics Finland and the Vipunen database, maintained by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the National Board of Education.

Completing a degree abroad is increasingly common and student mobility plays an important role in global mobility of people. Finland is following these trends, too: at the beginning of the 2000s, only 3% of new students started their studies in a university abroad, when in 2015/2016 the figure was already 7%.

At the same time, the number of international degree students in Finnish higher education has trebled. They account for 7.4% of all higher education students in Finland, while the OECD average is 6.4%.

Finnish universities attract especially non-Europeans

75% of international degree students in Finnish universities come outside of the EU/EEA, from the countries that Finland will start charging student fees from, starting next autumn. Most students are from Russia (3,045), Vietnam (1,913), China (1,806) and Nepal (1,204). The number of Chinese students, for long the biggest group of international students in Finland, has gone down in the past few years, whereas the numbers from other Asian countries have been growing fast.

This autumn, over 20,700 foreign students applied for a study place in one of the English-language higher education programmes in Finland. 42% applied through the Finnish joint application system that is the most common route to the Bachelor programmes of Universities of Applied Sciences. The rest of the applicants came through separate application systems, mainly used in Master’s programmes of traditional universities. A little under 40% of applicants got the study place they wanted and 27% – over 5,600 students – actually began their studies.

The number of applicants went down by almost a third compared to the previous year as there were almost 30,200 applicants for study programmes beginning in the autumn of 2015, 38% of whom applied through the joint application system.

Finnish students favour Europe

CIMO is conducting a large study about Finnish degree students in universities abroad, together with Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland and the Institute of Migration. In the first phase of the study, we analyse Kela’s data about student grants.

– The people going abroad are predominantly women: 64% of outgoing students are women, whereas they account only for just over 50% of student intake in Finland, summarises Research Manager Irma Garam from CIMO. – Students who go abroad to study are also somewhat older than those starting to study in the home country, and non-Finnish speakers account for more than in Finland.

For a long time, the favourite destination country of Finnish students has been the UK, with almost 2,000 Finns studying in universities there. It is followed by Sweden with 1,700 Finnish students and Estonia with 1,200 students. In 2015/2016, Sweden beat UK for the first time as the most popular destination: 622 students went to Sweden and 601 to the UK.

See also

Statistics on internationalisation: Higher education


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