Education in Finland

The educational system in Finland consists of daycare programmes (for babies and toddlers), a one-year "pre-school" (age six), and an 11-year compulsory basic comprehensive school (age seven to age eighteen). Nowadays secondary general academic and vocational education, higher education and adult education are compulsory.

Education in Finland
Ministry of Education and Culture
Minister of Education
Minister of Science and Culture
Li Andersson
Petri Honkonen
National education budget (2018)
Budget€ 11.9 billion[1]
General details
Primary languagesFinnish, Swedish, English
System typeNational
Current systemsince 1970s
Literacy (2000 [citation needed])
Primary99.7% (graduating)
Secondary66.2% (graduating)
Post secondaryn/a
Secondary diploma54% ac., 45% voc.
Post-secondary diploma44% (of 25–64 year-olds)[2]
Secondary and tertiary education divided in academic and vocational systems

During their nine years of common basic education, students are not selected, tracked, or streamed.[3] There is also inclusive special education within the classroom and instructional efforts to minimize low achievement.[3] After basic education, students must choose to continue with secondary education in either an academic track (lukio) or a vocational track (ammattioppilaitos), both of which usually take three years and give a qualification to continue to tertiary education. Tertiary education is divided into university and polytechnic (ammattikorkeakoulu, also known as "university of applied sciences") systems. Universities award licentiate- and doctoral-level degrees. Formerly, only university graduates could obtain higher (postgraduate) degrees, however, since the implementation of the Bologna process, all bachelor's degree holders can now qualify for further academic studies. There are 17 universities and 27 universities of applied sciences in the country.

The United Nations Development Programme derived an Education Index, a reflection of mean years of schooling of adults and expected years of schooling of children, that placed Finland fourth in the world as of 2019.[4]

Finland has consistently ranked high in the PISA study, which compares national educational systems internationally, although in the recent years Finland has been displaced from the very top. In the 2012 study, Finland ranked sixth in reading, twelfth in mathematics and fifth in science, while back in the 2003 study Finland was first in both science and reading and second in mathematics.[5] Finland's tertiary Education has moreover been ranked first by the World Economic Forum.[6]

While celebrated for its overall success, Finland had a gender gap on the 2012 PISA reading standards identified in a 2015 Brookings Institution report, but this can be put down to many factors such as the choice of the field of work into which each gender goes.[7] The performance of 15-year-old boys then was not significantly different from OECD averages and was 0.66 of a standard deviation behind that of girls the same age.

The governments of Jyrki Katainen, Alexander Stubb and Juha Sipilä cut education funds in Finland over 2011–2018 by a total of €1.5 billion. The number of university and college employees was cut by more than 7500.[8]

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