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Finland: record int’l students gain residency

Finland is seeing record numbers of international students move to the country, new figures from the immigration service have shown.

Tampere University is one of many institutions across Finland seeing growing student numbers. Photo: Pexels

The amount of courses on offer is much more than in previous years

A new law that was implemented in May that would make it easier for students to apply for permanent residency may have already created results, with 7,060 students applying for first-time residence permits since January – an increase of 54% vs last year’s 4,595 applicants.

“We are happy to see that Finland is now seen as an attractive destination for international students and to us this is an indication that the national efforts to showcase Finland’s study opportunities and way of life are starting to yield results,” Harri Hälvä, from the Finnish National Agency for Education, told The PIE News.

“Most importantly, international students see that there is a great amount of fully English-taught degree programs available in all Finnish higher education institutions,” he continued.

Joanna Kumpula, who is a senior specialist in international student recruitment at Tampere University, corroborated that the amount of courses on offer is much more than in previous years – but also, that recruitment is on the rise.

“Universities are doing a lot more work on student recruitment”

“Universities are doing a lot more work on student recruitment: more people on the job, more recruitment budget,” she told The PIE.

She also said that there is still room for growth and that “classrooms are not full yet”.

The deputy director general of the Finnish Immigration Service, Elina Immonen, said that the numbers of new international students in general has increased “significantly”, even compared to pre-Covid.

“International students are an answer to Finland’s shortage of workers,” Immonen said.

It was also reported that the visa processing times have not seen a “considerable impact” despite the amount of new applications, with an average of only 20 days for students to receive their first decision recorded compared to last year’s 18 days.

Vice rector of the University of Helsinki, Kai Nordlund, said the systematic development of its MsC programs are “attractive to international students”, and the institution has grown its foreign student body significantly.

“Currently, we are also working on expanding our BSc level courses offered in English,” he told The PIE.

Kumpula said that this was also the case at Tampere, where numbers have “steadily grown” despite the pandemic.

“Our aim is to grow future professionals with international skills and we are more than happy to have our international graduates stay in Tampere.

“We are developing a society that welcomes international students to stay”

“There is a great demand for professionals in many fields in Tampere region, such as system-on-chip, health and photonics technologies, but we also support our students in expanding their own networks further,” Kumpula said.

“International students will help boost the economy by being a highly educated workforce that can work in demanding positions, and in some cases create new ones,” Nordlund corroborated.

Hälvä knows that more work is to be done, especially if Finland wants to reach its goal of tripling its international student body by 2030, that “more promotion is needed to boost numbers”.

He also pointed out that the roadmap for immigration 2035 suggests that 75% of all international graduates should be able to find employment and “stay in Finland”.

“We do not only want to encourage more international students to reside in Finland after graduation, but we are also developing a society that welcomes international students to stay, work and start their families here,” Hälvä added.

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