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Tuition fees for foreign students vary widely around Finland

Many universities of applied sciences offer scholarship programmes that will allow refunds of significant chunks of student fees, ranging from 20 to 80 percent.

The Kasarminmäki campus is part of the new Xamk University of Applied Sciences. Image: Petri Lassheikki / Yle

Tuition fees charged for non-European students vary greatly at universities of applied sciences around Finland. Fees range from around 4,000 to 13,000 euros per term.

As of the beginning of this year, such institutions can charge tuition fees for foreign-language students from outside EU and EEA countries.

The lowest rates are at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences in Lappeenranta, with the highest at Helsinki's Metropolia.

The universities of applied sciences in Jyväskylä, Lahti, Häme, Satakunta and Lapland and Helsinki's Laurea have all set fees at close to the national average, about 8,000 euros.

Generally  fees will affect new students beginning their studies next autumn. They do not as a rule affect studies in the domestic languages of Finnish, Swedish and Sámi.

In the past, such students have typically come from Russia, China, the US, various African countries as well as Vietnam.

Your money back – at least some of it

Foreign students will have opportunities for refunds of some of their tuition fees.

Most universities of applied sciences offer scholarship programmes, which offer eligible students rebates, averaging about half of their fees.

At Lapland UAS, which has campuses in Kemi, Tornio and Rovaniemi, foreign students may obtain stipends covering as much as 80 percent of tuition fees. In contrast those at Helsinki's Haaga-Helia will have to make do with grants covering up to one fifth of their fees.

Stipends may be linked to academic progress. For instance, at Seinäjoki, those with better grades get more of their fees refunded.

Centria in Kokkola and Novia UAS, which operates in three western towns, are still developing their scholarship systems.

"In any case, students have to first pay the original tuition fee before any rebate," notes Petteri Ikonen, Financial Director at Xamk, which was formed at the start of the year by the merger of institutions based in Kymenlaakso and Mikkeli.

Applicant numbers shrink

The adoption of tuition fees can already be seen in a decline in applications. Complete figures for next autumn won't be available for some time, but administrators at many polytechnics say the drop has been expected. Estimated declines range from a few percent to 30-40 percent compared to the same time last year.

There are exceptions. For instance, Savonia, which has campuses in Kuopio, Iisalmi and Varkaus, eastern Finland, says its applicant numbers have remained steady, while Kajaani UAS reports a slight uptick in applications.

In future, such colleges will have to reconsider their marketing and specialities, says Ikonen.

"You have to sharpen your profile. You have to think about the most attractive reason why someone would come to Finland to study at your institution," he tells Yle.

Administrators at Xamk expect the dip in applications to be a temporary blip. According to Ikonen, internationalism is considered so important that universities won't let it go, even if they have to reconsider their finances.

"The goal is not to reduce English-language education. You can guarantee internationalism by offering international studies," he says.

At many universities of applied sciences around Finland, Wednesday marked the first application deadline of the year for studies in foreign languages. By then some 6,000 applications had arrived.

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