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Minggu, 07 Desember 2008

How about studying in Finland?

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One of the basic principles of the Finnish education system is that everyone should have equal opportunities for education, regardless of the size of his/her wallet. Free higher education on bachalor, master and doctoral levels offers possibilities also for Indonesians.

Finland has 20 universities and 28 polytechnics (universities of applied sciences), all of them offering free programs for both Finns and foreigners. Last year there were over 20 000 foreign students studying in Finland, either as degree students or as exchange students for 6-12 months. There are over 400 international study programmes available - all taught in English and subjects varying from high technology to fine arts. Among others, ICT, biotechnology, forestry & environmental studies as well as architecture and design belong to study fields where Finland has internationally acclaimed strong expertise.

Why to study in Finland?

There is a number of good reasons why Finland is a good destination to pursue your studies. First of all, Finland has a good and effective basic education system, proven by the fact that Finland constantly ranks high in different international comparisons (e.g. OECD's Pisa-study). Thanks to the good basic education, you can be sure to find bright students as your collegues at the universities and polytechnics.

Another good reason to choose Finland is the fact that education is free of charge, up until the PhD-level. Foreign students do not need to worry about expensive tuition fees, but they just have to cover their own living expenses. An avarage student needs approximately 700 euros per month in order to cover accommodation and food. Even if the living expenses might be a bit higher in Finland than in the most other European countries, the savings in tuition fees make Finland a good deal at the end!

There are a wide variety of programmes taught in English, based on the Finnish know-how. In addition to lectures, also materials and exams are in English. Foreign students also appreciate the modern facilities and well-trimmed student services. School libraries are usually extensive enough, so there is no need to buy your own expensive books in order to pursue your studies. Computers are available with internet connections. Student unions organise a lot of different kinds of freetime activities in the fields of sports and culture. As a student of a university or a polytechnic, you will also have an access to very affordable health care services.

Finland is a peaceful and well-organised country. As a member of the European Union and as a Nordic welfare state, Finland has almost no corruption nor complicated burocracy and this makes it a pleasure for students, too. Foreign students have also characterized Finland as advanced country, pointing out that Finland is socially advanced and a country with high technology.

Universities and polytechnics - what's the difference?

The Finnish higher education system consists of 20 universities and 28 polytechnics (universities of applied sciences). It is possible to pursue bachelor's and master's degrees in both universities and polytechnics, but PhD-degrees are only possible in universities. The universities provide academic education based on research. The focus of the studies is more scientific than that of the polytechnics. An avarage studying time for different level degrees is the following:

* 3 years to complete Bachalor's degree
* additional 2 years to complete Master's degree
* additional 4 years to complete Doctoral degree

Polytechnics on the otherhand offer more practical, hands-on type of education. They often tailor the education offered according to the needs of the local industry. The study times in polytechnics vary a bit from those at the universities, due to the mandatory practical trainings included in the programmes:

* 3,5 - 4 years to complete Bachalor's degree
* 1 - 1,5 years to complete Master's degree

The current trend among the 20 Finnish universities is to combine different fields of expertise in order to accomplish new, innovative and interdisciplinary results both in research, teaching and learning. Aalto University is the first example of this, as it brings together the knowledge of the Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and University of Art and Design Helsinki. It will start operating in August 2009.

How to apply?

The Finnish academic year is divided into two semesters: September - December and January - May. Most of the students start their studies in September. It is possible to join a Finnish university as an exchange student, if you are already enrolled in another univeristy. If you are interested in this, it is a good idea to take direct contact with the school you are interested in. It is also possible to study the whole degree in Finland. Then you have to be eligible for higher education in your own country, have good command of English and usually also to take an entrance exam specific on the field of study you are interested in. Application deadlines are usually around January-March.

Scholarships are only available for PhD-students, who have already completed their studies in bachalor and masters' levels.

For more information:

Text: Riitta Gerlander

Pictures: Aisyah Namirah

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