Education system 

The Finnish education system includes early childhood education, pre-primary education, basic education, upper secondary education and higher education. 

In Finland, pre-primary, primary and secondary education is free of charge. Most higher education is also free of charge. Finland wants to give everyone the same access to quality education. 

Early childhood education and care refers to educational activities for young children. Early childhood education is organised in municipalities, for example in day-care centres or family day-care centres. 

As a rule, pre-school education lasts one year and starts in the year in which the child turns six. Pre-school education is compulsory for all children. 

Basic education, or comprehensive school, covers grades 1 to 9 and usually starts in the same year when the child turns 7. Basic education is compulsory for all children. 

Upper secondary education means upper secondary school or vocational school. Upper secondary school (college) is a place to study general education subjects and prepare for higher education. Vocational school prepares you for a profession. 

How do you apply to study?

You can apply for a place to study at an upper secondary school/college through a joint application procedure. Application is in spring. You can apply if you have completed comprehensive school or basic secondary school

You can apply to a vocational school in spring or throughout the year.

You can apply to a university of applied sciences if you have:

  • certificate of completion of upper secondary education
  • Finnish matriculation examination
  • Finnish vocational qualification
  • matriculation examination or equivalent from abroad which entitles to university studies

You can apply to a university of applied sciences twice a year, in spring and autumn. 

You can apply to a university if you have:

 

  • Finnish matriculation examination
  • Finnish vocational qualification
  • Foreign matriculation examination
  • Foreign qualification giving access to university studies in the country where you obtained your qualification

For more information on how to apply, see Opintopolku