Tuition fees for higher education students from outside the EU/ETA area
Changes to be made to the University Act and the Polytechnics Acts. As of the beginning of 2016, Institutes of higher education may charge tuition fees from students coming from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area. The government presented parliament with its proposal on the matter last Thursday.
The tuition fees would only be charged to those studying in a language other than Finnish. Foreign nationals studying in either Swedish or Finnish, however, will not face any fees.
The size of the fee charged would have to be at least €1,500 per year. Higher education institutes would be able to set the fees themselves in such a way that the payments support the school's internationalisation strategy. The size of the payments could vary between different schools and between the different programs offered by a particular school. The higher educational establishments would decide themselves on arrangements regarding collection of the fees. They would need to have a scholarship system, through which the studies of students participating in the fee-charging degree programmes would be supported.
Institutes of higher education would continue to have the opportunity to arrange made-to-order degree programmes for student groups. In order to improve opportunities to carry out made-to-order programmes, it is suggested that the regulations of the University Act and the Polytechnics Act be made more specific, such that it would be possible for the buyer of the educational programme to apply charges to the students participating in the made-to-order programme in accordance with either the legislation in the state where the buyer resides or their own practices. The Finnish educational institution would still not apply charges itself to the participating students. Instead, the educational programme would be entirely funded by the buyer.
Legislative changes would come into force 1 January 2016 The regulations on tuition fees would be binding on institutes of higher education for all students that start their studies on or later than 1 August 2017. If they so desire, higher educational establishments may also bring the payments into use before this date.
The goal of the government proposal is to both advance these institutions' opportunities for education export and also expand their funding base. The introduction of tuition fees puts greater emphasis on educational quality as a competitive factor. The goal is to develop later on different incentives to encourage students on tuition-charging courses to remain in Finland.
The tuition charges applied to students would not have any effect on the amount of basic funding allocated to institutes of higher education. The earnings accruing from the fees would remain with the schools as additional funding for the development of educational quality and support services. The total earnings obtained from the fees would depend on both the number of students coming from outside the EU/ETA area as well as the size of the fees charged and the quantity of scholarship funds granted by the higher educational establishment in question.
Director General Tapio Kosunen, tel. +358 2953 30440
Counsellor of Education Maija Innola, tel. +358 2953 30120
Counsellor of Education Birgitta Vuorinen, tel. +358 2953 30335
Counsellor of Government Laura Hansén, tel. +358 2953 30098
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• During the trial period that lasted from 2010 to 2014, higher education institutes were allowed to charge fees to students from outside the EU or the European Economic Area who were admitted to a university or polytechnic master's degree programme given in a foreign language. Higher education institutes could independently determine the size of the fee to be charged. The condition for charging a fee was that the institution in question would have a scholarship programme to support, if necessary, the studies of students participating in fee-charging study programmes.
• In 2014 a total of 19,880 foreign students were studying degree programmes in Finnish institutes of higher education. They accounted for around 6.7% of all students studying at that level. Of those 19,880 foreign students, 77% (15,330) were from outside the EU/ETA area.
• Foreign students studying in polytechnics are primarily engaged in polytechnic degree programmes taught in a language other than Finnish with a target duration of 3.5 to 4 years (210-240 credits). Foreign students studying in universities are mostly studying in master's programmes with a target duration of 2 years (120 credits).
• Tuition fees are in use in most OECD countries. Based on the OECD's 'Education at a Glance 2014' publication, countries can be roughly divided into three groups depending on their fee payment practices: those charging higher fees to non-nationals, those applying the same criteria to all students, and those that do not charge fees to students at all. In addition, different kinds of application fees are in use in many European countries. Out of the Nordic countries, Denmark introduced fees in 2006 for those from outside the EU/ETA area, and Sweden did the same in 2011. Tuition fees are not charged at all in Norway and Iceland.