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New statistics report from Finland: Number of foreign degree students grows faster than other student mobility
According to statistics published by CIMO, the number of foreign degree students grows faster than other forms of student mobility. Finnish higher education institutions had almost 20 000 foreign degree students in 2012 which is twice as many as ten years ago. Together with nearly 10 000 international exchange students they account for nearly 10 % of all higher education students in Finland.
Finland attracts students from all over the world. About 40% of the degree students are from Asia, almost an equal share come from Europe, while 14% are from Africa. Exchange students and trainees come to Finland mostly from other European countries.
The number of students heading abroad for a mobility period from a Finnish higher education institution or getting their entire higher education degree abroad has also grown. In the 2012–2013 academic year, the Finnish Social Insurance Institution Kela provided student financial aid to almost 6 000 Finnish students pursuing their entire higher education degree abroad. In addition, almost 10 000 higher education students and more than 6 000 students of vocational education and training headed abroad in 2012 for a short mobility period.
Finnish degree students abroad have three favourite countries: almost two thirds of all recipients of student financial aid study in Britain, Sweden or Estonia. Those heading abroad for a shorter mobility period in higher education also tend to stay in Europe. Germany, Spain, Britain, Sweden and France have long been, and still are, the top countries.
Policy update: National action plan to promote education exports
A working group set up by the Finnish Minister of Education and Science Krista Kiuru has proposed a national action plan to promote education exports (Higher Education). The working group proposes a new goal to be set to increase the number of foreign degree students at Finnish universities and polytechnics to a minimum of 60 000 (the figure currently stands at 20 000) by 2025. Also cross-border education provision should be increased. The group did not state sectors or areas to which export efforts should be focused.
According to the action plan quality assurance and learning are brought to the forefront, legal obstacles to education export are to be eliminated and education export turned in to profitable business. The main reform in this respect would be the introduction of study fees to students who are non EU/EEA nationals and who study in degree programmes taught in English/other foreign languages. Tuition in national languages (Finnish/Swedish) would remain free of charge for all students despite of their nationality. The decision on the level of study fees would be taken at institutional level, however the fees should cover the costs of education. The Institutions should establish scholarship programmes for fee-paying degree students.
The working group proposes closer links between education export and development policy: development cooperation funds should be made available for a scholarship programme for students coming from developing countries. The action plan encourages universities and polytechnics to establish a joint ‘task force’ to coordinate and promote education exports. The working group calls also for CIMO’s expertise to be utilised in these efforts.
National action plan (in Finnish)