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International applications rise in Finland

Finland has seen a significant increase in the number of international student applications from those wanting to study at the country’s universities in 2021 compared with 2020, the Finnish Immigration Service has said. 

Finland has seen a bounce back in international student numbers from last year. Photo: Pexels

Most foreign students applying to study in Finland come from Russia (899) and China (504)

In a statement the service said that between January and August 2021, 4,233 applicants from countries outside the EU applied for a residence permit for studies. By comparison, this number was only 1,756 last year. 

“Most student applicants have received a positive decision”

It was noted however that the low number of applicants seen last year was “exceptional”, and the result of the Covid-19. 

Most oversea students applying to study in Finland come from Russia (899) and China (504). These two top applicant countries have been the same for the past years.

“All over the world, the coronavirus situation still affects the possibilities of our customers to travel or visit Finnish missions. As Finnish missions are reopening their operations, their queues are longer than normally,” said head of section for the service, Anu Tarén.

The Finnish Immigration Service said that during January to August of 2021, students were issued 3,870 first residence permits. The majority, some 93%, of these permit decisions were positive.

“Most student applicants have received a positive decision. The reason for negative decisions is usually the student having difficulties related to financial resources,” said Tarén.

The service is now aiming to streamline the process of applying for a residence permit and is shortening the processing time of applications. The aim is that a residence permit for studies is issued within a month by 2023.

In January to August 2021, the median processing time for a first residence permit for studies was 12 days, with half of all applicants receiving their decision in 12 days or less.

In terms of post-study work rights, a first residence permit for studies is issued for one or two years, after which the student applies for an extended permit. 

Students who have completed their studies can stay in Finland to work and apply for an extended permit on the basis of work, for example.

“If the student does not have a job, it is also possible to apply for an extended permit to look for work or to start a business. This makes it possible to look for a job after studies,” added Tarén.

Now the ministry of economic affairs and employment is working on a legislation project to make it easier for foreign students and researchers to stay in Finland. The goal is that students are granted longer permits than at present.

“We are working in close collaboration with educational institutions to streamline the processing of residence permits for studies,” said Tarén.

“We have, for example, developed facilitative measures together with higher education institutions, ministries, and other authorities in a project aimed at improving the conditions of entry for international students. The project provided us with many good ideas”.

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