Finnish education and science policy is geared to promote quality, efficiency, equity, and internationalism.

Finland (Finnish name Suomi) is a republic with a population of 5.3 million. Capital: Helsinki. Finland is an advanced industrial economy. The Finnish higher education system consists of two complementary sectors—universities and polytechnics, in which the admission requirement is a secondary education diploma, either general or vocational. The polytechnics are sometimes called universities of applied sciences.

Universities, which are academic or artistic institutions, focus on research as well as undergraduate and postgraduate education based on research. All the 20 universities in Finland are state-owned and mostly financed from the state budget. They confer Bachelor's, Master's, Licentiate and doctoral degrees. Also, there are 29 polytechnics in the country, focusing on vocational disciplines. Polytechnics award polytechnic degrees and polytechnic Master's degrees.

The universities will operate in their new form as independent corporations from January 1, 2010.

The higher education system, which comprises universities and polytechnics, is being developed as an internationally competitive entity capable of responding flexibly to national and regional needs.

Finnish education and science policy is geared to promote quality, efficiency, equity, and internationalism. Universities and polytechnics are required by law to evaluate systematically their quality and performance. The Finnish educational system enjoys global reputation. Out of the 20 universities in the Ministry of Education, ten are multidisciplinary. The remaining ten universities comprise three schools of economics and business administration, three universities of technology, and four art academies— University of Helsinki, University of Joensuu, University of Jyväskylä, University of Kuopio, University of Lapland, University of Oulu, University of Tampere, University of Turku, University of Vaasa, Åbo Akademi University, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Tampere University of Technology, Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics, Hanken School of Economics, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy, University of Art and Design and Theatre Academy.

Universities form networks for research and education.

For instance, there are such networks in the fields of communication, health sciences, and women studies. Also, there is the Finnish Virtual University. It is a consortium established by all the universities in Finland to promote and develop the use of ICT in studies, teaching and administration.

There are more than 300 programmes in diverse disciplines conducted in the English language medium, making the system attractive to international students. You have options with regard to the courses and duration of the programs. The costs are low. Scholarships are available for postgraduate study and doctoral research.

Research

The Finnish universities have a system of graduate schools.

They have been established with the objective of shortening the time for writing doctoral theses and in increasing international cooperation. In the graduate schools, doctoral students are paid. They work on their theses full-time.

There are 119 graduate schools, with nearly 1,500 postgraduate places.

Finland considers international interaction as a precondition for high-standard research. There is intense co-operation with the European Union and various countries. The EU is establishing a European Research Area to promote joint research and step up the use of research findings with a view to improving employment and competitiveness in Europe.

International research organisations build large research equipment which no single country could afford alone, and put them at the disposal of researchers. Apart from high-standard research, these organisations carry out significant technology development. Global science forums include committees and working groups of UNESCO and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Scholarships

The Finnish Ministry of Education however handles matters pertaining to biosciences, medical sciences, environmental sciences, social sciences, basic research, researcher training, research infrastructure, and research-society relations.

CIMO (Centre for International Mobility, Finland) awards and administers scholarships for international students who pursue studies or research after the master's or doctoral degree. Nearly 700 persons reach Finland from overseas every year under the scholarship programmes. The objective of the scholarship programmes is the internationalisation of teaching and research by forging links and encouraging academic mobility between institutions of higher education in Finland and abroad.

Certain scholarships are confined to students from specified countries. Details of 450 international study programmes offered by Finnish universities and polytechnics, and scholarships in Finland are available in the web site http://finland.cimo.fi. Details can also be gathered by contacting the e-mail id: cimoinfo@cimo.fi.

Exchange of experts

There are fellowships, under Sitra (the Finnish Innovation Fund) and the CIMO, which focus on supporting exchange of experts between Finland and India.

The aim of the programme is to encourage academic mobility between Finland and India, and to support the internationalisation of research and education by strengthening the cooperation between Finnish and Indian universities and research institutes. The Sitra Fellowships are offered for postgraduate studies, research and teaching at universities and research institutes in Finland.

The scholarships are mainly intended for Indian applicants who have completed a Master's degree or a doctoral level degree.

Contact: Ministry of Education, Finland, Meritullinkatu 10, Helsinki; Ph: +358-9-1607 6999; e-mail: opmkirjaamo@minedu.fi

Embassy of Finland, New Delhi E-3, Nyaya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021; Ph: 011-4149 7500, E-mail: sanomat.nde@formin.fi