The Finnish National Agency for Education has unveiled the names of students accepted to the country's vocational schools and academic high schools, officially known as upper secondary schools (lukio).
The agency said on Thursday that nearly 65,000 applicants have been granted places for the autumn term, which begins in August. Altogether there were more than 72,000 applicants.
Of the lucky ones, 33,000 earned vocational training berths while 31,700 are headed for academic high schools. Some 4,000 vocational school applicants were left stranded, along with about 3,000 upper secondary hopefuls.
More than 3,200 youngsters were accepted to schools using the minority Swedish language.
Minimum grade point averages vary greatly
Nearly 58,000 pupils who just completed their compulsory comprehensive school education — typically aged 16 — applied for further studies or training. Of these only five percent were left without a spot for next autumn. Of all applicants, including older ones, 90 percent scored places.
The acceptance rate was much lower at some selective high schools, mostly in and around the largest cities. Hopefuls keep a close eye on the lowest grade point average (GPA) of admitted students, which varies from year to year and from school to school, depending on factors such as the number of applicants and spaces available. In Finland GPA is measured on a 10-point scale.
In Helsinki, for instance, the lowest average minimum GPA for Finnish-language high schools was 7.42 this year, up from 7.33 last year. At Swedish-language high schools, the figure was 7.75 compared to 7.25 in 2018.
The capital has 11 Finnish-language high schools and three Swedish high schools (known as gymnasiums). The Finnish-language schools include those with special emphasis on languages, science, media, sports, art and music.
Helsinki's special schools attract students from around the country
"Our upper secondary schools remain popular. Each of the city's high schools has either a specific national mandate or emphasis. Those with a special status receive many applications from beyond the Uusimaa region," the city's upper secondary educational director, Mervi Willman, told the newspaper Helsingin Uutiset.
Along with the 14 general upper secondary schools, there are also a few private schools and ones run by foundations. These include schools that teach primarily in English, French, German and Russian, as well as a Steiner school and the European School of Helsinki.
Helsinki's easiest school to get into this year was Vuosaari Upper Secondary School in a southeastern suburb, where the lowest GPA of admitted students was 7.42. The city recently announced plans to expand the school's capacity from 500 to around 900 students.
Toughest was Ressu Upper Secondary School in central Helsinki, which was established in 1891, making it one of the country's oldest Finnish-language schools. There, the lowest GPA for admission was 9.32.
In neighbouring Espoo, the centrally-located Kuninkaantie High School, with an IT and media orientation, was the most selective with a minimum GPA of 9.15.
Meanwhile South Tapiola High School, which was the city's most selective last year and was rated as Finland's best in a comparison by news agency STT this spring, will have a dramatic drop in its minimum GPA. While those students accepted so far have an average GPA of 9.27, the school still has 35 places in its freshman class unfilled. So it will lower its minimum required GPA to 7.0, making it suddenly the easiest to get into in Espoo. It will begin accepting applications for the unfilled places for a week beginning on Friday.
In the northern city of Oulu, meanwhile, two very old schools also topped the list: Oulun Lyseo and Oulu SYK, which both required a minimum GPA of 8.67 for admission this year.