In an interview with HT Education in Helsinki, Krista Kiuru, minister of education and communication of Finland, speaks about new initiatives and areas of cooperation with India in the field of education. She points out that in the year 2003, the number of Indian students was 132 and in 2012, the number grew to 639 - an increase of 484% in nine years. Finland offers free higher education to students and of late there has been a political debate about introducing application fees and tuition fees for degree programme students coming to study in Finland from outside the EU/EEC area. But, there is no decision yet whether this will be implemented in future or not, the minister tells HT Education.
What is the number of Indian students in Finland? Has the number increased over the years and by what per cent?
In 2012, there were 639 Indian students in Finland, which was the eighth biggest nationality from our international students listing. Russia was number one with 2500 students, China at second position with 2177 students. The number of Indian students has increased evenly during the past years. Statistically, they have ranked between the 8th and the 12th largest international student nationalities after 2003. In 2003, the number of Indian students was 132 and in 2012, it was 639. The increase has been 484% in nine years.
What are the courses popular among Indian students?
According to Statistics Finland, Indian students study mostly engineering and natural sciences. Master’s degree is clearly the most common degree among Indian students. Also there is a lot of interest towards research in Finland.
Please give details on the ongoing reforms in the education sector in Finland, especially higher education?
Major ongoing reforms in higher education sector include polytechnic reforms, reforms to expedite entry into the labour market and reform of the research institutes. There has been a political debate about application fees and tuition fees for degree programme students coming to study in Finland from outside the EU/EEC area but there are no decisions whether this will be implemented in the future or not.
What about financial aid/scholarships to foreign students?
At the moment higher education institutions in Finland do not collect tuition fees, which is why we do not offer a wide range of scholarships for international students. Free education can be seen as a financial aid/scholarship which is offered to every student in Finland without looking at their nationality. If higher education institutions start collecting tuition fees, the amount of scholarships will increase. Indian students will naturally be entitled to these too.