More than 61,000 applications were made in the country’s joint application round, which occurs nationally every year, soaring over the 2022 figure of over 32,000.
International students made up around 53,000 of the joint applications, where students can apply for up to six study programs with one application.
Janni Jokela, the agency’s senior adviser, said it was down to “active student recruitment and country branding work” carried out together by institutes across Finland.
“There was also a reform of the student’s residence permit in the spring of 2022. These actions explain the immense increase in the number of applicants,” Jokela said.
While student residence permit legislation was changed last year to simplify the application process, hundreds of students still reported visa delays and issues. Applied sciences universities especially suffered, due to consulate backlogs in identification.
This may be especially important to resolve with the biggest nationalities applying to Finland, according to the recent data, being Nigerian and Bangladeshi students.
A staggering 86% of those applying in the joint application process were from outside Finland – and the numbers specifically doubled on the previous year.
The number of Finland’s domestic students using the joint application process seems to have plateaued with numbers staying largely the same as 2022.
Jokela also said that the use of the International UAS exam, means that the participants are streamlined and all only need to take one test – introduced last year, it’s already having the desired effect.
“The digital entrance examination makes it even easier for international students to apply to a program in the joint application in the spring. This also explains [the increase],” Jokela said.
Despite the issues with visa processing that caused something of a bottleneck in Finland last year, the agency is confident that there will be places for every eight applicants – services saw the toughest competition for a place, with around 31 applicants to a place.
“In Finland the degree of attraction has traditionally been measured by the amount of applications per study place,” Sandra Slotte, Arcada University of Applied Sciences senior policy advisor on internationalisation, told The PIE News.
“That only tells us about quantity, not quality. It would therefore be interesting to know more about the quality of these applications and whether or not they eventually are offered a study place, accept it and make it through immigration to arrive on campus in the autumn,” she noted.
“It would therefore be interesting to know more about the quality of these applications”
Health and welfare was also seen as a more competitive area, with 19 applicants to a place. Humanities and education had the lowest, with the aforementioned figure of eight applicants to an admission.
The data also showed that there were 1,000 more places available compared to 2022, with 7,400 study places available in 369 programs, showing that as applications continue to stream in, Finland’s competitiveness is beginning to surge.
What the data does not show is the number of applications outside the joint application scheme. Not all English-taught programs are on the scheme, and many are still open for entry for the September 2023 intake, ushering in what could be thousands more applications with a high competition rate, and more paperwork for admissions teams across the country.
“Admissions procedures are very resource intensive and it is relevant to look at the admissions funnel to see what the actual enrolment rate is, in order to determine the cost of handling each application,” Slotte added.