Russians still are eagerly applying to study at Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences. During this year's first joint application period (4-18 January), about a quarter more Russian citizens filed applications compared to a year earlier, just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The numbers are still modest, though, with 665 Russian applicants so far this year compared to 534 in the same joint application period last year.
Altogether 2,157 Russian citizens applied to Finnish higher education degree programmes last year. However the number who actually ended up studying last year was down slightly from 2021.
The joint application system makes it possible to apply for up to six study programmes with one form. The next joint application to higher education degree programmes in English begins in late August.
War boosts interest in study abroad
Arseni Baibakov from Moscow plans to complete his mechanical engineering studies at LUT University in Lappeenranta, eastern Finland, this spring. He believes that Russia's war on Ukraine has increased Russians' interest in studying abroad.
"I think that many people have thought about studying abroad precisely because the war," he told Yle.
Since the Russian attack 11 months ago, Baibakov has received more inquiries about studying abroad from friends in Russia.
"Those who had already considered studying abroad have become even more interested. For them, the current situation may speed up the decision. On the other hand, those who weren't interested before aren't interested now, either," said Baibakov.
Russians have been trying to leave the country by various means, especially since authorities announced a “partial mobilisation” of men to join the military last September.
Recently, there have been rumours circulating in Russia of a new, broader mobilisation.
This may have further increased interest in studying abroad, especially as obtaining a visa to visit EU countries otherwise has become more difficult. For example, Finland mostly stopped issuing tourist visas to Russians at the end of September last year.
From the beginning, Baibakov planned to look for a job in Finland after his studies.
The war of aggression and the mobilisation have led other Russians studying in Finland to change their plans, according to Baibakov. He said that few Russians that he knows here want to return to Russia anymore.
"I don't know a single Russian student who plans to return to Russia," said Baibakov.
Even visiting Russia seems too risky now.
"I haven't been to Russia once since last February," he added.