28.11.2017

Statistics of the month: Number of international applicants fell in higher education institutions

Fewer foreign nationals applied to higher education degree programmes that started in autumn 2017 than the year before. The numbers of foreign nationals admitted to degree programmes and international students who accepted the place to study fell more than the number of applicants.

More than 8,400 foreign nationals applied to universities of applied sciences (UASs), which is 6 % less than the previous year. More than 2,200 of them were admitted and just over 2,000 foreign nationals accepted the place. The number of foreign nationals admitted to degree programmes declined by 26 % from the previous year and the number of those who accepted the place by 27 %.

The number of international applicants who applied to universities declined even more than the number of those who applied to UASs. The number of applicants totalled more than 8,000, which is 32 % less than the year before. Just under 2,700 foreign nationals were admitted and about 2,100 accepted the place, a drop of 45 % and 46 % from the previous year.

International applicants to UASs, admitted students and students who accepted the place to study

International applicants to UASs, admitted students and students who accepted the place to study

International applicants to universities, admitted students and students who accepted the place to study

The changes in the number of applicants are partly explained by the fact that, as from autumn 2017, tuition fees for degree programmes taught in a foreign language have been charged by higher education institutions to students from outside the EU/EEA. The fact that higher education institutions have cut down the studies and degree programmes they offer in foreign languages may also be a contributing factor.

The largest number of applications came from Asia

The majority of international applicants, admitted students and students who accepted the place in higher education institutions were other than EU/EEA nationals. The largest number of applications to degree programmes beginning in autumn 2017 were received from Asia: 35 % of applicants to UASs and 34 % of applicants to universities were Asian. The next most common continent was Europe (28 % of international applicants to UASs and 29 % of international applicants to universities) and Africa (UASs 20 % and universities 24 %).

The most common nationalities among international degree students were Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Nepalese. In universities, students of unknown nationality were the largest single group. Pakistani, Nigerian and Ghanaian applicants were the next largest groups.

The information on international applicants, admitted students and students who accepted a place in higher education were received from the statistical service Vipunen in October 2017.

The number of international degree students has tripled in the 21st century

The most recent information on international degree students in higher education is from 2016, which was also the last year before the introduction of tuition fees. More than 21,000 international students were studying in higher education institutions at the time. The number of students has tripled during the 21st century, but has remained relatively stable during the last few years.

Of international students, 44 % study a Bachelor’s degree at a UAS, 33 % a Master’s degree at a university and 17 % complete a doctorate. Only few foreign nationals study in degree programmes leading to a Master’s degree at a UAS or to a Bachelor’s degree at a university. The share of foreign nationals of all higher education students is 7.1 %.

In 2016, a total of 6,013 international degree students were first-year students. Of new students in higher education, 9.4 % were foreign nationals. In addition, foreign nationals completed a total of 3,969 higher education degrees, which is 6.9 % of all degrees.


Number of international degree students in Finnish higher education institutions 2001-2016

Number of international degree students in Finnish higher education institutions 2001-2016

The statistics on international degree students has been obtained from Statistics Finland. The figures include all foreign nationals in all degree programmes, also in programmes taught in Finnish or Swedish. A degree student completes a whole degree in a Finnish higher education institution instead of just a shorter mobility period.

More statistics on international applicants and students in Finnish higher education institutions

Fewer foreign nationals applied to higher education degree programmes that started in autumn 2017 than the year before. The numbers of foreign nationals admitted to degree programmes and international students who accepted the place to study fell more than the number of applicants.