Student mobility between Finland and the US


Student mobility between Finland and the US

Student mobilization is the phenomenon of students crossing geographical borders to obtain a portion or all of their education in a country other than their own. If one is considering to study in Finland, there are plenty of reasons why it might be just the perfect destination to go to. For international students seeking higher education, Finland is a top destination due to its high-quality education system and world-class universities. The country has previously been ranked very high in international education assessments, including the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Finland’s education approach is centered on providing opportunities for students who study in Finland. Finland is a safe country that has a strong social welfare system and a lot to experience in terms of natural sightseeing places, history and city life.

Statistical background of the student mobility

Finland has been involved in student mobility for decades. The past few years the top destination countries for international student mobility amongst higher education students have been Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy and Austria. The top sending countries have been the same countries in a slightly different order.

In terms of numbers, there has been 4000-5000 students mobilizing from Finnish universities for 3 months or more and 2000-5000 students from Universities of Applied sciences. After the backlash by Covid-19 pandemic, in 2022 the universities had recovered from the pandemic and had approximately 4000 students mobilizing (pre-Covid situation ~5100) where as the Universities of Applied Sciences only reached around 2000 students (pre-Covid situation ~5000).

Programme-wise the majority of students; over 80% of students coming to Finland for mobility programmes and 68 % of students from Finland took part in Erasmus+ -programme. A minority of students also go through an institution's agreement or my organizing the exchange themselves.


Tuition fees and living expenses in Finland

If a student arrives from outside the EU/EEA area, they are required to pay tuition fees for bachelor’s and master’s level programmes which are taught in English. The annual tuition fee depends on the university and the degree programme and varies between 5,000 € and 18,000€ approximately (2023). The tuition can be checked in under the programme description, or with the university offering the programme. If one is required to pay tuition fees, they are also eligible to apply for a scholarship from the university. Finland provides international non-EEA students with the opportunity to extend their residence permits after graduation to look for work opportunities. Graduates do not have to be in possession of a job offer in order to be granted this extension although there are certain conditions that must be met.

When applying for a student residence permit, one needs to show they have sufficient financial resources as well as insurance. Monthly living fees are around 700 - 900 € including food and accommodation). Living costs vary and depend on the proximity to city center etc.


USA-Finland mobility

For students in the United States, the United States itself captures the highest interest (28.8 %) in terms of the number of pageviews. This is followed by Germany and the United Kingdom, with a total of 11.8 % and 10.9 % of pageviews. Furthermore, Norway comes in 8th place (first among Nordic countries), with a total of 2.7 % of pageviews, while Finland is in 16th place (3rd among Nordic countries), attracting only 1.0 % of the total number of pageviews. The share of traffic coming from the United States to Finland was relatively stable between July 2019 and June 2021 compared to Nordic countries. It’s worth noting that the Nordic countries have witnessed a decrease in interest towards the end of the previously mentioned period.

When students in the U.S look for English-taught programmes anywhere, Social sciences is the most looked discipline. The Netherlands captures the highest share of interest for social sciences. However when it comes to Finland, the top discipline in 2022 was technology followed by business & management. For the rest of Nordic countries, programmes in Social Sciences get the highest share of pageviews. there were 47,202 pageviews from students in the United States to 535 on-campus Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Finland within the selected disciplines between July 2019 and June 2021. There is also data that shows New York, Los Angeles, and Washington are among the great matches for recruitment; these cities display the highest interest in the selected disciplines in Finland.

All in all, the available data suggests that Finland has room for improvement, was it in the pursuit of making itself better known to the American public to attract more visibility in student mobility in the future. It is likely that Finland could constantly make itself better known to the Americans as a nation, not to mention the high schoolers and students approaching higher education. Although there are aspects Finland stands out from certain of its competitors in some areas, there are also several aspects where it does not shine through, e.g when comparing Finland and its study opportunities with other Nordic countries. (Market Analysis Report by Finnish National Agency for Education, 2022.)



When looking at the student mobility between USA-Finland-USA, both countries definitely have competence in several research areas. In the disciplines of technology and business, Finland could cooperate more closely with American schools, e.g. closer networking with Caltech and similar institutes. Furthermore, Finland has room to improve its level of attraction in other disciplines. The US, on the other hand, could consider increasing its visibility amongst the Finnish higher education students –it is probable that there are plenty of students who are not familiar with such names as UCLA or USC.

The scope of the current internationalization development will justifiably become even stronger in the future. The workforce deficit caused by the aging of the populations in Finland and the U.S as well as the global scramble for the intellectual capital between the states will result in expansion of the higher education markets even more in the future (see Ziguras & McBurnie, 2015). In this competition Finland has been able to utilize more and more of its strengths which include the high level of the education, the high quality of the teachers training and the internationally recognized potential to make use of its talent reserves in the world of a fourth industrial revolution

According to Eurostudent VI – survey (Valtioneuvoston julkaisuja 2017) the students who leave for student mobility period seem to formulate a selected group to whom the mobility periods are partly accumulated to. In other words, the possibility to go on a student mobility period is not as likely for everyone. Therefore, it is probable student mobility is not a natural part of everyone's degree but the students background, financial factors and one's situation in life forms a complex reality based on which the students either make the decision to apply and go study in a foreign country or do not make it.

Stay in touch with Vilma Sarvela, TFK-trainee in Los Angeles.


Ziguras, C., & McBurnie, G. 2015. Governing Cross-border Higher Education. New York: Routledge.

Market Analysis Report, Finnish National Agency. Published 31.1.2022 by studyportals analytics and consulting for the Finnish National Agency For Education.

OKM. 2017. Yhteistyössä maailman parasta. Korkeakoulutuksen ja tutkimuksen kansainvälisyyden edistämisen linjaukset 2017–2025. Helsinki: Opetusministeriö.