15.3.2019

Tuition fees lowered the number of new foreign students

Over 4 150 foreign students started their degree studies at Finnish higher education institutions in 2017. The number decreased by nearly 25 % compared to the year before. In 2016 the number of new foreign entrants was 5 500.

The biggest drop could be seen in the university master’s programmes. The number of new students in universities of applied sciences (UAS) decresed less drastically.

There are clearly less students from abroad in bachelor’s programmes and UAS masters’ programmes. The numbers in these programmes have been fairly stable throughout the years.
The statistics used here are from the Vipunen – Education Statistics Finland. Doctoral programmes are not included in the figures.

Chart: Number of foreign students by degrees 2008-2017

Number of foreign students by degrees 2008-2017

The decrease in the number of foreign students seem to be related to the tuition fees for non-EU and EEA students introduced in autumn 2017. The decrease was seen particularly in this group of students.

The majority, nearly 3 000 students, of the degree students who started in 2017 came from outside the EU and EEA area. This was 35 % less than the year before. At the same time the proportion of students from the EU/EEA area increased so that in 2017 they accounted for 29 % of the new entrants from abroad compared to 17 % in 2016.

Foreign degree students in Finland most commonly come from Vietnam, China and Russia. The decrease was also biggest among these students. The number of students coming from Vietnam in 2017 was only half of that the year before. Also the number of students from China and Russia decreased clearly.

The number of foreign applicants grew 2018

Although the number of students admitted to higher education degree programmes decreased in 2017, it would seem that Finnish higher education has not lost its attractiveness. The statistics on applicants to higher education in spring 2018 indicate that the number of new foreign degree students is on the rise.

Some 36 % more foreign students applied to higher education programmes that in 2017. The number of applicants was 23 000. Particularly the number of applicants form outside the EU and EEA increased. Also the number of students admitted grew by 20 %. In autumn 2018 more than 6 300 students were admitted compared to 5 200 in 2017. It must, however, be remembered that not all admitted students begin their studies.

The number of foreign degree students in Finnish higher education institutions has tripled in the 2000s. In 2017 they constituted some 7 % of all higher education students, the total number being over 20 000. The proportion of foreign degree students in Finland is above the OECD average and higher than for example in Sweden and Norway.

More statistics on foreign students, new entrants and applicants from abroad in Facts Express 9B/2018: Statistics on foreign degree students in Finnish higher education institutions in 2017

Over 4 150 foreign students started their degree studies at Finnish higher education institutions in 2017. The number decreased by nearly 25 % compared to the year before. In 2016 the number of new foreign entrants was 5 500.