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 Practical information for international students

Practical information for international students

Finnish educational system

The educational system in Finland is made up of a 9-year comprehensive school, general or vocational secondary-level education, and higher education, which is carried out according to a dual model in universities, universities of applied sciences (UAS) and other institutions of higher education. Independent organisations, evening schools, vocational institutions and higher education institutions, such as universities and universities of applied sciences, provide adult education. www.minedu.fi

The purpose of universities of applied sciences is to raise the standard of higher professional education, carry out applied research based on the current needs of the working life and to support other regional development. The formation of the university of applied sciences system began in 1991, and today there are 25 of them in Finland. The Finnish Government gives permission to the UASs.

Students acquire both theoretical knowledge and practical training in their chosen field. Studies at a university of applied sciences are characterised by varied teaching and learning methods, and emphasis is placed on students' own responsibility for completing their studies. As the amount of information increases and diversifies constantly in our modern society, it is important that students adopt the idea of lifelong learning and independent search for information during and after their studies. The university of applied sciences degree provides students with the qualifications they need to work in demanding job positions in the working life. The Ministry of Education and Culture defines the degree programmes and the degree titles. Finnish degrees obtained at universities of applied sciences are equivalent to bachelor's and master's degrees in most of the European institutions of higher education.

In Finland, one third of population (35%) of the age 25-64 years have a degree in higher education, which is one of the highest percentage in EU countries.

Facts about Finland

Population: 5.4 million
Total area: 338.424 km², one of the largest countries in Europe. Forests cover about seventy per cent of the area, and there are about 200,000 lakes in the country, especially in the central and eastern parts of the country. The northernmost part of Finland, Lapland, lies north of the Arctic Circle.
Population density: 15,8 inhabitants/km²
Capital: Helsinki with 1,25 million inhabitants in the Metropolitan area
Other major cities: Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä
Languages: Official languages are Finnish (91 %), and Swedish (5,4 %). 1 700 same language speaking people in Lapland. English is widely spoken.
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran (79,9 %), Orthodox (1,1 %), also representatives of other religions.
Form of government: Parliamentary republic since 1917; President: Mr Sauli Niinistö since 2012. The head of state is the President and the legislative body is the unicameral Parliament, which comprises 200 members elected every four years.
EU membership since 1995 and a member of the United Nations since 1955. Co-operation with the other Nordic countries has always been active in political, economic, social and cultural matters. Finland has also maintained good political and commercial relations with Russia.
Currency: the euro (EUR)

Although Finland is situated in northern Europe, the climate is not as cold as its northern location might imply. However, temperatures below zero degrees centigrade in winter are not uncommon. Summers are light and warm, and in the northern part of the country the sun does not set at all for a few weeks. The average temperature varies between -6 in January and +21 in July (Helsinki). 

Industrialisation began in Finland in the 19th century, and particularly rapid growth took place after World War II. Traditionally, the forestry and wood processing industries have played a central role in the economy. Other important industrial fields include electrical and metal engineering, the chemical and textile industries. Today, many Finnish companies are known for their high-tech products. The rate of unemployment was 7,8% in June 2013.

Coming to Finland


All foreigners excluding citizens of the Nordic countries need a valid passport to enter Finland. Citizens of the Nordic countries may arrive, reside, study and work in Finland without limitations. They do not need visas, residence or work permits. See www.formin.fi.


Students from the EU countries and a number of other countries do not need a visa to enter Finland. Other international students must apply for a visa at the Finnish embassy or consulate in the country of permanent residence. If a prospective student had to apply for a visa to participate in the entrance exam, (s)he will most likely have to apply again for a new visa upon acceptance into the university, as the first visa is granted for a short period only. As of September 1, 2007, foreign students coming to Finland from outside EU/ETA countries have needed insurance of a certain amount before they can be granted a visa to Finland. See www.formin.fi.

Residence permits

A residence permit is needed if a person's stay exceeds three months. Citizens of the Nordic countries do not need a residence permit nor do EU citizens (including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), but they must register at the local police office in Finland for their right to reside in Finland if their stay lasts longer than three months. Students coming from countries other than the Nordic countries may need to provide proof of funding.

Students arriving from outside the EU and ETA areas should apply for a residence permit at the Finnish Embassy or Consulate in their own country. Students must be able to prove that they have at least 560 euro per month to cover living expenses in Finland. The residence permit is usually granted for one year at a time. Getting an extension for the residence permit requires that a student has proof of sufficient income, is still registered at the educational institution, is a full-time student and has completed the required courses in the institution's study programme. An application for the extension of the residence permit is submitted to the local police in Finland. See www.formin.fi.

Work permits

EU citizens and citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can work while studying in Finland and do not need to apply for a special work permit to do so.

The residence permit for study purposes allows students from other countries to work within certain limits, i.e. the work is part of their practical training required by the degree programme, or if the amount of part-time work does not exceed 20 hours per week. Students may take full-time employment during holidays when the educational institution does not arrange teaching as such; in practice, this is usually during summer and Christmas vacations. See www.formin.fi.

Travelling in Finland

The airport nearest to the City of Seinäjoki is located in Vaasa (70 km from Seinäjoki). A flight from the Helsinki airport to the Vaasa airport takes around one hour. The quickest train connection from Helsinki to Seinäjoki takes 2 h 30 min.

Driving in Finland is on the right-hand side and all vehicles must use headlights, even during the day. Wearing seatbelts is also compulsory in both the front and back seats. Drivers are only allowed to use mobile phones while driving if they have a hands-free set. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant is strictly forbidden. Young people may receive their driver's licence at the age of 18. 

Health care and social welfare services

Public health nurse, doctor and psychologist

Bachelor and master degree students in Seinäjoki

The student health care services in Seinäjoki has been organized by The Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) from 1 September 2011 on. The services are available for degree students studying in Seinäjoki UAS bachelor and master degree programmes. After paying the FSHS fee (44 euros per academic year), the degree students have access to several services with little or no charge, including for example General Practitioner, Public Health Nurse, Physiotherapist, Psychologist, Dental health care and so on. More detailed information: www.seamk.fi/fshs.

The mobility students may use other health care services provided by the City of Seinäjoki and Municipal of Ilmajoki. The FSHS services do not apply to mobility students.

On-call duty and emergency services

FSHS is open and the public health nurses are available only during the day on business days. Especially for acute treatment during evenings, nights and weekends please contact the health centre of the study location’s town (Seinäjoki: Y-talo / Y-building; Ilmajoki: JIK Health Center). During night time (22.00–8.00) please contact directly the Emergency Policlinic at the Seinäjoki Central Hospital, address Koskenalantie 18. Students can also use the health centre services in other times but a doctor’s appointment has to be made beforehand by phone.

Students from the EU and ETA countries as well as from Switzerland are entitled to the same health care services in Finland as Finnish citizens if they have a European Health Insurance Card. In Seinäjoki, one visit to the health care centre costs about 15 euro and the yearly fee is about 30 euro. A doctor's referral is always needed for special medical care. 

Students from the Nordic countries, who stay more than 6 months in Finland, must fill out the Inter-Nordic Migration Form. Students from other countries should consult embassies or consulates for more information concerning health care. There are several private health care clinics in Seinäjoki and the surrounding area. The cost for visiting a private health care clinic is at least 50 euro per visit. Without insurance, visits to private clinics and staying in hospital can become quite costly. 


Dental care is not free for students, but it is less costly at the municipal dental clinic than at private clinics. A municipal dental clinic is located in Seinäjoki in the K building in the Kampus area. Bachelor and master degree students in Seinäjoki units gave access to FSHS dental care services after paying the annual FHSH-fee.


Finnish pharmacies (apteekki) have an excellent range of medicines and other medical products available without a prescription. If you need a prescription for medicine, you must always make an appointment to see a doctor. Please, find more information about health care and related issues from the FHSH, international coordinator in you faculty and from the Seinäjoki UAS International Office.

Information about the towns where studies are provided

Seinäjoki: www.seinajoki.fi

Ilmajoki: www.ilmajoki.fi

ops.seamk.fi - Kampusranta 11, 2nd floor (Frami F), 60320 SEINÄJOKI - Puhelin: +358 20 124 5000 - Faksi: +358 20 124 5001 - opintotoimisto@seamk.fi