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Finland stops recruiting students from developing world

Several Finnish higher education institutions have decided to no longer stage entrance exams in developing nations. They say many students recruited from such areas face financial difficulties in Finland.

Nepali students will not be able to take entrance exams for the Laurea polytechnic in their home country. Image: Yle

A quarter of Nepal's population lives below the poverty line, and this is why people like Sandip Ranjit leave for greener pastures. Today Ranjit studies property management at Laurea polytechnic in Espoo.

For years Finnish polyechnics have arranged entrance exams in the developing world to attract students. But exams have been suspended this spring in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and Kenya.

Like many others, Ranjit's school, Laurea polytechnic, says it is no longer organising entrance exams in Nepal following a recommendation by Finnish officials. Finland's Immigration Service says students arriving from developing countries cannot afford to live in Finland.

The government requires that non-EU students show assets of 6,000 euros before moving to Finland as they are not eligible for state-sponsored financial aid. Officials say foreigners abuse the clause by circulating money into each other's bank accounts.

"If students don't have the money there's a risk they'll be abused working for their own countrymen," says Pentti Sorsa, a senior advisor at the Finnish Immigration Service.

Working students

Ranjit hands out free newspapers every morning at Helsinki's Vuosaari metro station. The work earns him 525 euros a month.

"Accommodation is quite expensive and so is food. What I earn goes toward my living," he says.

Though living in Helsinki is expensive, Shishir Mani Pant, a Nepalese biotechnology student at Helsinki University, says Finland has one big advantage over other countries' university systems.

"It's quite expensive, but I would say if I don't have to pay tuition fees then it's manageable."