Study Abroad in Finland: Qualified Foreigners Pay No Tuition
By Zachary Sorrells
Finland’s higher education system offers free education not only to all Finns, but also to a sizeable number of international students in the name of multiculturalism and increasing global understanding.
Getting Into a School
Finland has a network of 20 excellent universities and 29 polytechnics, all of which offer international education programs. Go to www.edu.fi to learn more about the Finnish educational system.
If you are currently enrolled in another university, you can explore different exchange opportunities by going to the following sites: www.edu.fi and www.finaid.org. If you take the exchange path, you will have to continue to pay tuition at your home university. The second option is to apply directly to the Finnish institution. You can apply for specific study blocks or for a degree program. If you get accepted, you pay no tuition. The only fee is €75 a year for student union fees.
The student union offers some great benefits; check them out at www.tamy.fi.
Getting a Visa
Once you are accepted to a university, the application is simple. See www.finland.org for information. The biggest challenge for me was having the €5,000 ($6,000) minimum in my bank account.
Your biggest expenses will be rent and food. If you take advantage of the student housing options you can expect to pay between €130 and €500 per month. Food will cost €150-€300 per month. University cafeterias are also very affordable: about €2 per meal.
You can find some international insurance carriers at the following sites: www.ihi.com and www.imglobal.com. For international health insurance you can expect to pay between $75-$125 per month. A monthly bus pass costs €30 per month.
Including some room for miscellaneous and fun stuff, the total comes to somewhere between €550–€1,100 per month. Most people have to find a job to help make ends meet. This can be a challenge.
My first tip is to start looking for a job several months before arriving in Finland. A good website for jobs is www.uranus.fi. Finland forum is great for foreigners looking for jobs in Finland.
Also, get creative—freelance writing or proofreading for magazines, for example. If you have experience with e-bay, there are some ways to make money buying and selling online. If you have teaching experience, there are many English language schools that are always looking for native speakers. Start your search at www.tefl.com. Another place to look is the American Scandinavian Foundation. Or look into the Au Pair program at www.aupair-world.net. Don’t expect the jobs to come to you; you’ll have to put in some hard work.
I’ve been in Tampere for just over a month and it’s been amazing. My classes feel like a United Nations summit. Every day I sit next to someone from a different country—Romania, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Germany, China, Italy. I’m learning Finnish. I found a job. Life is pretty good here in Finland. I hope to see you soon!