Higher education in Finland comprises two parallel systems: universities and polytechnic institutes

Country Overview

Over several centuries,  Finland was dominated by its neighbors, but during the past half century, it has more than come into its own. Its heavy investment in education and research has fostered a highly trained work force that serves as the backbone of a modern economy paced by the telecommunications sector and exports of timber and metals. In fact, today it might be easy to forget that the country – two-thirds of which is forest and a tenth of which is water – only recently stepped out from the shadow of the cold war, having battled the Soviet army to a near draw not long after winning independence in 1917. That struggle for freedom is symbolized in the work of Jean Sibelius, the country’s greatest composer.


The main factor influencing Finland's climate is the country's geographical position between the 60th and 70th northern parallels in the Eurasian continent's coastal zone, which shows characteristics of both a maritime and a continental climate, depending on the direction of air flow. The mean temperature in Finland is several degrees (as much as 10°C in winter) higher than that of other areas in these latitudes, e.g. Siberia and south Greenland. The temperature is raised by the Baltic Sea, inland waters and, above all, by airflows from the Atlantic, which are warmed by the Gulf Stream.

When westerly winds prevail, the weather is warm and clear in most of the country due to the 'föhn' phenomenon caused by the Keel range. Despite the moderating effect of the ocean, the Asian continental climate also extends to Finland at times, manifesting itself as severe cold in winter and extreme heat in summer.

Since Finland is located in the zone of prevailing westerlies where tropical and polar air masses meet, weather types can change quite rapidly, particularly in winter. The systems known to affect Finnish weather are the low-pressure system usually found near Iceland and the high-pressure systems in Siberia and the Azores. The position and strength of these systems vary, and any one of them can dominate the weather for a considerable time.

According to Köppen's climate classification, Finland belongs wholly to the temperate coniferous-mixed forest zone with cold, wet winters, where the mean temperature of the warmest month is no lower than 10°C and that of the coldest month no higher than -3°C, and where the rainfall is, on average, moderate in all seasons.





Overview of Higher Education

Higher education in Finland comprises two parallel systems: universities and polytechnic institutes. The 21 universities emphasize classical study and research, while the 29 polytechnics focus on professional and vocational training. Degrees are nearly identical in both systems.
Degrees are conferred in accordance with the Bologna Process. Study for a bachelor’s degree lasts three to four years, while an additional two years of study is required for a master’s. (Polytechnics also require three years of professional experience for a master’s degree.) Doctorates typically require another four years of study.
All universities are public, and tuition is free. Polytechnics can be either public or private, and tuition at public institutions is free.
In 2007 more than 175,000 students were enrolled in Finnish universities, and some 400,000 were enrolled in professional and vocational institutions.
(Sources: BBC, The Europa World of Learning)

Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes

Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (total): 54

Number of Higher Education Students

Number of students enrolled: 309,000

Number of international students enrolled: 5,400

Contact Information

Ministry of Education

P.O. Box 29, FI - 00023 GOVERNMENT

Web site: http://www.minedu.fi/

Contact: Virkkunen Henna, Minister of Education and Science

E-mail: Virkkunen.Henna@minedu.fi

Phone: +358-(0)9-160 04