Finland Education System

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Finland Education System

Revered as the best education system in the world, Finland has meticulously curated an apparatus for academia and learning that is at par with almost all countries around the globe. Bordering Sweden, Norway, and Russia by land and Estonia by sea, the country is home to a unique mix of modern and natural with its clean and sophisticated towns blossoming with coniferous forests in the countryside. Emerging as an intellectual in the domain of education, the Finnish education system is meant to have cracked the code of imparting quality education and following the motto of eternal learning. Have you ever thought about why Finland has the best education system in the world? Through this blog, let’s explore what makes Finland’s education system unique as well as how it is designed. 

Country Finland 
Primary languagesFinnish, Swedish, and English 
Minister of EducationJussi Saramago
Minister of Science and CultureAnnika Saarikko
National education budget (2018)€ 11.9 billion
Population (2018)5.53 million
Literacy Rate 99%
Primary Enrollment99.7%
Secondary Enrollment66.2%
Top Ranking University in Finland University of Helsinki 

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Finland Education System Ranking

Finland is, no doubt, one of the best countries to study. So, let’s check out some of the rankings that the country has received:

  • Finland is the 8th most educated country in the world.
  • In Education ranking by Countries, Finland has a total score of 1.631K ranking in 3rd position in 2021.
  • Finland has the highest ranking in High School Completion Rate.
  • World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive study ranks Finland as having the most well-developed education in the world.
Courtesy: After School TV.

Now being admired as the best of them all, the Finnish education system wasn’t always like this. If we go back in time, it happened almost 50 years ago when the Finnish government examined the education system and added better, progressive though untested reforms that would prove to be imperative in the future years. That’s when the whole structure was redeveloped going from the basic early education stage to the higher education level, it got recreated with the motto to equip students with incremental life skills.

Finland Education System

Top 10 Reasons Why Finland Has the Best Education System

Here are the top 10 reasons why Finland has the best education system in the world:

  1. Free Education Access (from Pre-Primary to Higher) to Finnish Citizens as well as to those coming from EU/EEA countries because education is considered an equal right for everyone.
  2. Implementation of a holistic teaching and learning environment that aims to emphasise equity over excellence.
  3. No standardized testing system as students is graded individually with a grading system created by their teacher. Also, overall progress is mapped by the Ministry of Education by sampling groups of varied ranges of schools.
  4. Finnish children begin their academic journey at an older age, i.e. only when they turn seven years old do they commence their schooling and before that learning is made free-flowing.
  5. The “bar is higher for teachers”, i.e. only master’s degree holders (from specialised teaching schools) can opt for teaching positions and even then an individual principal is allotted to every teacher to keep a tab on their progress.
  6. Exemption from the Artificial Parameters of Academic Progress by removing any kind of competition between academic institutions but rather cooperation is made the norm.
  7. Better Alternatives to the Same-Old Degree those planning for a college education can choose from professional options, be it vocational schools, university education or training classes.
  8. Focuses on fostering cooperation over competition in schools by inculcating the skills of teamwork, collaboration and team spirit in students.
  9. Emphasis on foundational basics is an important reason why Finland has the best education system in the world because students are provided with the time and scope to build the best foundation and basics at their own pace.
  10. Only 9 years of compulsory education are there in Finland’s education system and after that students are encouraged to find out what’s best for them academically and career-wise.

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Finland Education System

Finland Education System Facts

Want to know why Finland has the best education system in the world? Well, here are the top characteristics of Finland’s Education System:

  1. The minimum age for starting elementary education in Finland is 7 years thus Finnish kids get to enjoy their childhood and kickstart their learning with their families rather than spending excessive time in schools.
  2. Finnish teachers formulate their grading systems for the students rather than relying on class exams and standardised tests.
  3. The only mandatory test that Finnish students give is at the age of 16.
  4. Finnish teachers only spend around 4 hours every day teaching in the classroom while they devote 2 hours every week to professional development.
  5. The school system in Finland is wholly 100% state-funded.
  6. Graduates from the top 10 percentile can only apply to become a Teacher in Finland.
  7. Every teacher in Finland is a master’s degree holder which is completely subsidized by the country’s government.
  8. On average, the starting salary of a teacher in Finland is somewhere around $29,000.
  9. Teachers are considered equivalent in status to doctors and lawyers in Finland.
  10. In 2018, the literacy rate in Finland was 99.0%.
  11. Finnish students spend only 20 hours a week at school.
  12. Every student in Finland can speak 2-3 languages.
  13. No competition between Finnish schools since every academic institution has the same facilities as any other.
  14. Students get to learn new things in schools from baking and industrial works to music and poetry.
  15. For every 45 minutes of learning in schools, Finnish students get to spend every 15 minutes playing or doing leisure activities.
  16. Finnish students receive free healthy meals from their schools.
  17. Every Finnish student is provided special services that fit their special needs and requirements.
  18. The Finland education system also fosters the teacher-student relationship as every student gets the same teacher for up to 6 years in their school.
  19. The students get very less homework and almost finish up everything they get during school hours only.
  20. The Finnish schools have mixed ability classes to nurture diverse interests and hobbies.

Click here to know all about Studying in Finland!

Why Finland has the best education system in the world

Finland Education Policy

Finland Education Policy
Courtesy: CCE Finland

The uniquely created Finland Education Policy is one of the key reasons why Finland has the best education system in the world. Here are the important features of Finland’s Education Policy:

  • The main aim of Finland’s Education policy is to ensure that every citizen has equal educational opportunities to avail.
  • The most important focus of the education policy is emphasised quality, efficiency, equity and internationalization.
  • It is founded on the principles of ‘Lifelong Learning and ‘Free Education.
  • Finnish teachers are provided with the autonomy they need but they are fully trained and shortlisted only with higher qualifications which are usually a master’s degree.
  • Teachers are also intensively involved in creating the best curricula as well as learning plans for students.
  • Finland’s education system fosters an environment of trust between educators as well as the community.
  • Students are motivated to work on collaborative projects especially through interdisciplinary projects and specialisations.

Schooling in Finland

Finland Education System
Courtesy: New Nordic School

Finland Education System

The Finnish Education System contains nine years of compulsory basic education, early education and care, pre-primary education, upper secondary education, higher education, and finally adult education. The description of all these levels has been given below.

  1. Early Childhood Education and Care (Provided to the students before the beginning of compulsory education)
  2. Pre-Primary Education (1-year duration for 6-year-olds)
  3. Basic Education (Compulsory 9-year education for children aged 7-16))
  4. Upper Secondary Education (Vocational Education and Training / General Upper Secondary Education)
  5. Higher Education (Education offered by Universities / Universities of Applied Sciences)
  6. Adult Education

Now, let’s explore these levels of education in further detail:

Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)

This level of education aims to support the development, learning and well-being of a child while giving them plentiful learning opportunities. Local Authorities and Municipalities are tasked with the responsibility of regulating the mechanism of Early Children’s Education and Care. At this level of the Finland Education System, only municipal daycare cover is charged which mainly relies on family income as well as the number of children. Taking approval of the Finnish National Agency for Education, the National Curriculum Guidelines (NCG) is designed for the ECEC level and also constitute of open early childhood education activities which are conducted by municipalities for kids and their families.

Pre-Primary Education

Playing a vital role in the continuum expanding from ECEC, this stage aims to enhance the children’s opportunities for learning and development. For the children in the country, participation in pre-primary education has been made compulsory, since 2015. Also, another significant feature of the Finland education system under the stage of Pre-primary education is that the guardian of the kid must ensure their participation in different types of activities at this level. With the approval of the Finnish National Agency for Education, the National Core Curriculum for Pre-Primary Education guides the planning and implementation of the contents of Pre-Education.

Basic Education 

In the Finland Education System, Comprehensive Schooling or Basic Education is where the compulsory education of 9 years begins for all children aged between 7 and 16. It strives to support the student’s growth towards becoming an ethically responsible member of society as well as imparting them the essential knowledge and skills needed in life. Further, all the schools providing basic education follow a national core curriculum which constitutes the objectives and core fundamentals of varied subjects, and the local authorities, such as municipalities and other education providers, maintain the Comprehensive Schools and often create their curricula as part of the national framework.

Upper Secondary Education

After the basic education stage of the Finland education system, students are given the choice between pursuing general and vocational education. General Education usually takes three years to complete and does not qualify students for pursuing any particular profession or occupation. After completing the General Upper Secondary Education, the students have to take the Finnish matriculation examination to be eligible for various educational universities or universities of applied sciences for bachelor’s degrees. 

The other route which students of Finland can choose is Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training in which students are provided with basic skills required in their chosen field by allotting them to workplaces through an apprenticeship agreement or a training agreement. The institution facilitating the program curates a personal capability development plan for its students, drafting the content, schedule, and schemes of study. After concluding this level, the students are eligible to opt for further studies at universities or universities of applied sciences to enter the higher education stage in Finland’s education system.

Higher Education (Universities/Universities of Applied Sciences)

Under the higher level of the Finland Education system, the academic institutions are bifurcated into regular universities and Universities of Applied Sciences. There are various postgraduate degrees as well in higher scientific and artistic education, i.e. licentiate and doctoral degrees. The time duration to complete a bachelor’s degree in regular universities is 3 years and the master’s program is of 2 years. Whereas, the students who pursue their higher education at Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland, are awarded UAS Bachelor’s and UAS Master’s degrees. 

In Finland’s education system, the degrees offered by the Universities of Applied Sciences usually take between 3.5 and 4.5 years to get completed. Those students who want to pursue UAS Master’s program in these universities must have completed their bachelor’s degree or any other suitable degree along with having 3 years of relevant work experience in their field.

Must Read: Finland Student Visa

Adult Education

Adult education and training in Finland’s Education System are added to provide education leading to a qualification, degree studies, apprenticeship training, further and continuing education updating and extending the professional skills, studies in different crafts and subjects on a recreational basis, and much more. For this stage of education, the training is either paid by the student or the employer facilitating apprenticeship training, staff development, or labour policy education. Adult education is provided by educational institutions mainly for working professionals, private companies, and workplaces.

Also Read: Japan Education System

Finland Education System

Finland Education Statistics

Around 93% of graduates in Finland from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5% points higher than the US, and 66% of them choose to opt for higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends around 30% less per student than the US.

Free Education in Finland

Finland does not just boast quality education but also offers free education for many students. The public universities in Finland are divided into regular universities and universities for applied sciences. These universities have no tuition fees for students coming from EU/EEA countries and Switzerland. Although Non-EU/EEA country students have to pay the tuition fees, programs taught in Finnish or Swedish are free for international students as well. 

Finland Education System

Restructuring of Higher Education in Finland 

The Ministry of Education has called for system-wide reorganisation as a result of globalisation and increased competition for dwindling younger age groups. Since 2006, all higher education institutions have started exchanging collaboration methods. Within 10–15 years, the total number of institutions is likely to shrink dramatically. The University of Eastern Finland was formed in 2010 when the University of Kuopio and the University of Joensuu merged to become the University of Eastern Finland. On August 1, 2009, three local institutions in Helsinki, notably the Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics, and Helsinki University of Art and Design, united to form Aalto University. Several applied science universities have also announced mergers. Within universities, new forms of collaboration such as consortia and federations have been introduced (e.g., the University of Turku and Turku School of Economics Consortium). Traditional institutions and universities of applied sciences are forming partnerships (e.g., the University of Kuopio and Savonia University of Applied Sciences formed the Northern Savonia Higher Education Consortium). In general, system-wide change in Central Europe, the United States, Spain, and Hungary follows a similar pattern.

Finland Education System PPT

Courtesy: OLETark

Several universities in the country have earned international accreditation and are on the wish lists of many students. Examine the following list of universities in Finland, along with their respective QS Rankings for the year 2023:

Universities in FinlandQS World University Rankings 2023
University of Helsinki104
Aalto University112
University of Turku295
University of Jyväskylä348
University of Oulu377
Tampere University414
Lappeenranta University of Technology414
University of Eastern Finland521-530
Åbo Akademi University601-650

Top Public Universities in Finland

Listed below are the top public universities offering academic degrees to international students –

  1. University of Helsinki
  2. Abo Akademi University
  3. Aalto University
  4. Tampere University
  5. University of Jyväskylä

Cost of Studying in Finland

Finland’s public institutions did not charge tuition fees until 2017. However, there have been attempts at the government level since the 1990s to impose tuition fees on students from outside the European Union/EEA. Those ideas have been met with opposition from student organisations. Students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) have had to pay at least 1,500 euros a year to study in Finland since the autumn semester of 2017, while students from the EEA continue to study for free. Non-European students’ tuition fees typically range from roughly EUR 6,000 to EUR 18,000 (INR 5.19 – INR 15.58 Lakhs) per year, depending on the university and programme.

Best Cities in Finland

While planning to pursue higher studies in Finland, students might be confused about the cities. Well, to help you with that, we have listed the best cities in Finland in this section, to help make your university selection process easier –

  1. Helsinki
  2. Tampere
  3. Rovaniemi
  4. Turku
  5. Jyvaskyla
  6. Oulu
  7. Rauma

Student Visas for Finland 

As an Indian student wanting to study in Finland, you need to have a valid passport and a visa to enter a new country. The Single-entry visa enabled entry to the Schengen zone once and for up to 90 days in any 180 days while the Double-entry visa increases your entry to twice. Other than this, there is a Multiple-entry visa granted for various consecutive visits to the Schengen area and the total duration of the stay cannot exceed 90 days in 180 days and this is valid for a maximum of 5 years. In case you wish to extend the validity of your visa while in Finland, you need to contact the local police authorities there.


Is Finland have the best education system in the world?

Finland ranks third in the Education Ranking by Countries in 2021, with a total score of 1.631K. Finland has the highest rate of high school completion in the world. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, Finland has the best-developed education system in the world.

Is Finland Number 1 for education?

Finland has been named one of the world’s happiest and most prosperous countries, and The Economist just named it the best country in the world for higher education.

How many hours a day do Finland students go to school?

In Finland, for example, students spend just around 5 hours per day in school and have little homework outside of school. Students in many Asian countries, however, attend school for longer days, and many attend private “cram schools” for hours each day outside of official school hours.

Is education free in Finland?

Regular universities and universities of applied sciences are the two types of public institutions in Finland. They are all tuition-free for students from the EU/EEA and Switzerland. Non-EU/EEA students enrolled in English-taught degrees must pay tuition.

Do Finland Schools give homework to students?

The fact is that in a country with one of the best education systems in the world, there is hardly any homework. Finnish people think that, aside from homework, several other factors might improve a child’s academic achievement, such as eating supper with their family, exercising, or getting a good night’s sleep.

Thus, the Finland education system strives to emphasize equal educational opportunities imparting every pupil with the essential life skills and core knowledge of basic disciplines while giving them the necessary liberty at the latter stages to experiment, explore and follow their callings.

If you are intending to study in Finland but are confused about how to go about it, let our Leverage Edu experts guide you in finding a suitable program and university as well as kickstarting the application process promptly so that you get to embrace an incredible experience in the intellectual land of opportunities.

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  1. I wish to get my children admitted in Finland schools…matriculation and lower. Can you guide me for next steps please

    1. Hi please get in touch with our study abroad experts at 1800 57 2000 they will surely help you out

  2. i wish to do my PhD and wish to apply for scholarship, I am very interested to study in country

    1. Hi please get in touch with our study abroad experts at 1800 57 2000 they will surely assist you