Stunning natural beauty and laid-back cities, a strong focus on research and innovation, a good selection of world-class universities and a commitment to offering higher education free of charge… It’s easy to see why many international students choose to study in Finland.
Universities in Finland
While Finland’s system of higher education is relatively young compared to some others in Europe, this is definitely not at the expense of quality. Finland has eight universities in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings, most of which improved their overall positions compared to the previous year.
While Denmark and Sweden have both now introduced fees for students outside of the EU/EEA area, Finland has so far managed to avoid this, as has Norway.
All undergraduate and PhD courses are free in Finland; some master’s courses do charge fees for non-EU/EEA students, but scholarships are available.
In fact, according to a report from the Europaeum, Finland is among the few European countries that actually managed to increase state funding for higher education in recent years – by 12% between 2010 and 2011
Applying to universities in Finland
Applications are usually made online, either direct to the university, or via the centralized admissions service University Admissions Finland (UAF).
Deadlines vary, but the main applications period is November-January, for courses starting the following fall. At some polytechnics it is also possible to apply in August-September for courses starting the following spring, but only for selected programs.
As well as proving your academic credentials, you may also need to pass an entrance examination.
If you are successful, you will be glad to hear that, no matter where you’re from, you will not have to pay a penny in tuition fees. This applies at all levels of degree, except for some master’s degrees, for which non-EU/EEA students may have to pay a fee.
Facts about Finland
- Parliamentary democracy with unicameral legislature
- Head of state is president (largely ceremonial), head of government is prime minister.
- Finnish and Swedish are official languages, though English is more widely spoken than Swedish
- Capital city is Helsinki, which is the second most northern capital city in the world
- Part of Sweden until 1809, then duchy of Russia until gaining independence in 1917
- Known as Suomi in Finnish
- Slightly larger than Malaysia, but with population (estimated to be 5,400,000) smaller than Kuala Lumpur alone
- Currency is Euro, symbol: €, €1 = US$1.35
- Uses Eastern European Time (UTC+2), switching to Eastern European Summer Time (UTC+3) in summer
- International dialling code is +358
- Homeland of Nokia and Santa Claus (Lapland is in Finland)
- Finland has 180,000 islands and 230,000 reindeer
Step by step guide to a perfect student visa application for Finland
We want to ensure that all our students get a positive decision to their residence permit application always. Please read carefully our detailed guide for a successful application. You can also contact Iqra Consultants office for additional understanding as well.
The required documents
- Valid passport
- Certificate of acceptance from the university
- Payment receipt from the bank confirming you have paid the full tuition fee
- 2 passport photos size 36 x 47 mm
- 300 EUR for the fee
- Certificate of health insurance
- Proof of funds and other documents that demonstrate that you have the required funds to cover living expenses in Finland, and bank statements and other supporting documents that explain the source of those funds
What kind of insurance is required?
The health insurance needs to be valid for one (1) year. Travel insurance cannot be used for the residence permit application. The insurance must cover medical expenses up to at least 40,000 EUR. Make sure that there are no restrictions to the number of days within the period of validity. The insurance must be valid on the day that you plan to travel to Finland, e.g. 15 days before the start of the study program. Obtain a certificate of insurance indicating the following information:
- Your personal details
- Period of validity of insurance
- Geographical area in which your insurance is valid
- Insurance coverage
- Insured amounts
- Amount of deductible, or a mention that there is no deductible
How do I show that I have enough money?
If you apply for a 2-year residence permit, you must have at least 13,440 EUR on your account (=560 EUR/month) as a bank deposit. If you apply for a one-year residence permit, you must have 6,720 EUR on your account. Make sure the bank statement indicates the student as the only account owner. A shared account is not accepted. Attach your own bank statements to demonstrate that you have the required funds to cover living expenses in Finland. Do not remove the funds from the account at any time during the processing of your application.
In addition, you must attach supporting documents that explain the source of the funds on your account. The more stable and transparent your income (source) is, the more likely it is that you will get a positive decision.
If you are covering all the expenses by yourself, the required supporting documents are:
- Bank statements of your own account covering the past 3 months
- A letter from the bank stating the required amount of funds on your account. If your country’s currency is not Euro, ask the bank to calculate an estimation of the funds in Euros. All documents must be in English.
- Official documentation of your income (employment contract, pay slips) to explain the source of your funds on the account
If you have a sponsor covering your living expenses, the required supporting documents are:
- A sponsor is anyone covering your costs in Finland: your mother, father, sibling, uncle, etc. Attach a cover letter with the sponsor’s personal details (name, occupation, address, telephone, e-mail) clarifying the relationship between the applicant and the sponsor.
- Bank statements of the sponsor’s personal account covering the past 6 months; in case of multiple accounts, attach bank statements of all accounts. Ask the bank to calculate an estimation of the funds in Euros. Make sure all documents are translated into English.
- Attach official documentation explaining the source of the sponsor’s income as follows:
- If the source of income is salary and savings, include the pay slips and employment contract.
- If the source is selling of assets such as land, include the receipts of the sales.
- If the source is selling of agricultural products, include the receipts of the sales.
- If the source is house rent or land lease, attach lease agreements.
- If the source is sponsor’s own company, attach documentation demonstrating the financial status of the company
Note that even with the sponsor, the funds should still be on the student’s own account and the funds must remain on your account throughout the decision process as well as upon entry to Finland. Also, ensure the sponsor is able to demonstrate that s/he is able to cover their own living costs in their home country while supporting you to study and live in Finland.
The application process in 8 steps:
Step 1: Set up your account. Register for an account at https://enterfinland.fi/. Select: First Residence permit -> Studies. Your service point is the VFS Global service centre or the Finnish Embassy in your country. In there’s no Finnish Embassy in your country, you need to go to the Finnish Embassy in a neighbouring country. Ask Iqra Consultants for help.
Step 2: Scan the documents. Scan all the documents listed above and upload them on Enterfinland.fi. Every document must be translated into English.
Step 3: Book an appointment to give your biometrics. Depending on your country of residence, contact either the VFS Global or your nearest Embassy of Finland for an appointment. Do it as soon as you have secured your study place in Finland.
Step 4: Visit the Embassy and/or the VFS Global service centre. Do not miss your appointment! Bring with you all the original documents listed above as well as photocopy versions of the documents.
Step 5: Follow the processing. The processing of your application starts after you have given the biometrics at VFS/Embassy. Be sure to keep checking your e-mail as well in case the Immigration Service asks you for additional documents. Provide them quickly in order to not delay the processing time.
Step 6: Receive the decision. You will receive information that the decision has been made on your enterfinland.fi account.
Step 7: Get your residence permit card. Once you receive a positive decision you should get your residence permit card within 2-3 weeks. VFS Global or the Embassy will notify you about the arrival of your card, usually by e-mail. Make sure you provide the correct e-mail address during the appointment.
Step 8: Get ready to start the experience of your lifetime in Finland! Collect your residence permit card at VFS Global or the Embassy. Book the flight tickets and start your studies in Finland.
Tips for success
- Start preparing the application and booking the VFS/Embassy appointment immediately after receiving the acceptance letter.
- The application process is longer if you submit an incomplete application, because the Immigration Service will ask you to amend your application. Every time they ask for additional documents, the application will return at the end of the queue.
- All documents must be translated into English.
- Ensure the funds remain intact on the student’s account. The account should continue to have the required amount of funds throughout the decision process as well as upon entry to Finland. The Immigration Service may conduct spot-check on the account even after submission of application. If the funds have disappeared from the account, you will get a negative decision.
- If the student has a sponsor, ensure the sponsor is able to sustain themselves in their home country while supporting the student in Finland. The sponsor’s annual income should be significantly above the tuition fee and the living costs in Finland. On average, that is more than 15,000 EUR/year.
- The health insurance needs to be exactly as required by the Immigration Service. Note that your health insurance needs to be valid for one (1) year. Travel insurance is not enough.
- After the visit to Embassy or the VFS, the processing of the residence permit application starts. The processing time is between one and two months from the visit to the Embassy if everything is in order with the application.
- If the Immigration Service needs to ask for additional documents or clarifications, the processing time will be longer, depending on how quickly you are able to reply and send them the additional documents. It is important that you keep checking the e-mail account that you provided in the Enter Finland online system, because usually the Immigration Service contacts you via e-mail for any clarifications or additional documents.
- When preparing for the Embassy/VFS interview, check that your student knows the following: the full name of the university the student has been accepted to, the full name of the degree program and the campus. Make also sure that the student knows the annual tuition fee of the program. During the appointment, the officer of the Embassy will ask questions about the financial situation or about the sponsor’s financial situation. Ensure your student is ready to explain how they aim to fund the studies. Make sure all answers are in line with the documents they had provided – don’t make things up
More about Finland