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More than 52K in Finland continue to higher education

The competition to study medicine was toughest while it was easiest to get a study place in technical fields.

Kirjaston aula.
File photo. A view of the main library at Helsinki University. Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

More than 52,000 applicants were able to secure places for higher education this spring, the National Education Agency said on Wednesday. The body said that 80 percent of successful students had applied for the first time and that the competition for a study spot was toughest in the field of medicine.

A total of 151,700 applicants participated in the spring selection process; just one-third of them were successful. Just over 29,000 applicants will be going to universities of applied sciences, while nearly 23,000 will be heading to university.

Education reforms that took effect this year meant that upper secondary school certificates weighed more heavily in the selection process. In the past applicants had to submit their upper secondary school certificates and sit department-specific exams, but the reform allows students with good grades to be admitted without a test.

These changes will come into effect in 2020.

This year, 136,500 upper secondary school graduates applied for higher education places. Half were accepted into higher education institutions on the basis of their certificates, while 40 percent were accepted by way of entrance exams. The rest gained study places on the basis of other selection criteria, such as open university studies.

Meanwhile 48 percent of students who applied to go on to universities of applied sciences were accepted on the basis of their grades and 45 percent sat entrance exams to get in.

Apart from first-time applicants, 14 percent or just over 7,000 students or were accepted to master’s or higher degree programmes at universities and universities of applied sciences. Those students accounted for 19,000 of all higher education applicants this year.

The rise in the number of students accepted this year is due to the addition of more than 4,000 additional study places.

Technical fields easiest to get into

This year 57 percent of candidates were able to get into their first-choice option for higher education studios. Thirty-two percent of them will be attending universities of applied sciences while 28 percent will go on to study at universities.

Getting into medical school was the most challenging option, where just 10 percent of applicants made the grade. The social sciences were also highly competitive, with just 13 percent of candidates getting accepted.

Meanwhile the joint selection board for the university law faculties increased the number of study places by 46 following a technical glitch in the assessment of entrance exams. Just over 600 will now begin their studies in the profession next autumn.

Getting a study place was easiest in technical fields, where 41 percent of applicants made it into a higher education institution.

This year 65 percent of university study places were reserved for first-time applicants. Some 82 percent of candidates accepted by universities of applied sciences were first-time, while the corresponding number for universities was 78 percent.

Applicants will be notified of their entrance exam results this week; they will be required to indicate whether or not they will take up places offered by 3pm on 22 July. Students offered reserve places will have until 3 August to accept them.

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