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Universities and adult education

Four university students standing together outside

Many of the nation’s leading universities and adult education options can be found in Helsinki.

Higher education in Helsinki

Once graduates finish lukio or amis in Finland, they can apply to study in a university (yliopisto) or a university of applied sciences with a vocational emphasis (ammattikorkeakoulu). Both institutions are very selective.

Universities of applied sciences are known as polytechnics or technical colleges in other countries. They offer practically-oriented training for work in areas like nursing, engineering, business and hospitality. The universities of applied sciences in the Helsinki area offer hundreds of study options in Finnish, Swedish and English on campuses with state-of-the-art tools and techniques. See the links below for more information on the different vocational-emphasis study options.

Want to learn a profession or trade in Helsinki? Metropolia, Helsinki’s largest university of applied sciences, offers a guidance service that can help you make your choice. The website of Helsinki’s Vocational College Stadin AO also has more information.

When it comes to universities in the Helsinki area, the University of Helsinki regularly places among the top 100 universities in the world in international rankings. What is more, the state-of-the-art Aalto University, which focuses on technology, business and art, has also performed well in many recent comparisons. English-taught degree programmes are offered on the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. See the links below for more information on the different university study options in the Helsinki area.

Want to study at a Helsinki university? The websites Study in Finland and Studyinfo provide detailed information on the higher education choices available to you in the metropolitan area.

Tuition and scholarships

University studies are available at no cost for permanent residents of the country and EU/EEA citizens. The state benefits agency Kela has more information on university student and researcher eligibility for healthcare and other forms of support. In addition, Helsinki’s student housing association provides shared or single-occupant housing at a significantly reduced price. If student housing is not available, our Housing in Helsinki section has information on several short-term options.

Non-EU/EEA citizens studying in Finnish higher education must pay tuition fees and other costs. Some higher education institutions in Finland offer scholarships for university students and researchers. Applicants must apply for these scholarships at the same time that they apply for admission.

The majority of students in Finnish universities study towards a master’s degree. Universities of applied sciences award students the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree after completing their studies.

Recognition of qualifications

If you have completed a degree outside of Finland and are applying for a master’s programme, for example, you may need to apply for recognition of qualifications from the Finnish National Agency of Education. In many instances, it is at the discretion of the educational institution to determine whether your degree is sufficient. Equivalency of degrees varies across professions and countries of origin.

Post-graduate studies

Graduates of university programmes have the option of continuing in post-graduate studies. Finnish universities offer both licentiate and doctoral degrees.

In Finland, students of post-graduate studies are often responsible for arranging their own funding. The Association of Finnish Foundations and the Finnish National Agency for Education offer more information on grants and support.

Adult Education

Helsinki offers many opportunities for life-long learning. For those who may not have completed their schooling, free basic education and upper secondary school classes for adults are available at the Helsinki Upper Secondary School for Adults.

The City of Helsinki runs two Adult Education Centres, one in Finnish (työväenopisto) and the other in Swedish (Arbetarinstitutet, or Arbis for short) that offer courses in languages, art, home economics, IT and exercise, among many other interesting subjects. Both offer classes in English, in addition to the national languages of Finnish and Swedish.

Can I learn Finnish in an Adult Education Centre class? Yes you can! The Adult Education Centre is a great choice for learning Finnish or Swedish in a classroom setting. The classes are very popular among members of Helsinki’s international community.

Classes are held in over 70 convenient locations throughout the city. Most take place in the evening. Arbis also organises Open University courses, which are university-level adult education courses that are available for a fee.

The Ilmonet service lists all of the adult education course options in the Helsinki metropolitan area. In addition, Kansalaisopistot.fi also provides courses in a range of subjects and the Helsinki Summer University provides instruction year round.

The Helsinki Vocational College Stadin AO also provides a wide range of courses and training towards different professions, open to young people and adults alike. For instance, apprenticeship training allows a trainee to work in a job towards a qualification. In addition, several special programmes offer new arrivals on-the-job training that includes Finnish language instruction.