Review of Education Statistics in Finland

Education system of Finland

In Finland pre-primary education is given to children aged 3 to 6 generally in day care centres. Some 6-year-olds receive pre-primary education in comprehensive schools. Participation in pre-primary education is voluntary.

Basic education, i.e. primary and lower secondary education, is general education provided for each age group in its entirety. All children permanently resident in Finland are covered by compulsory education. Compulsory education starts in the year the child becomes seven years old and ends when the comprehensive school syllabus (nine years of comprehensive school) has been completed or when ten years have passed since the starting of compulsory education. In exceptional cases, due to disability or illness, compulsory education can begin already at the age of six and last 11 years. Those who have acquired a leaving certificate from basic education in the same or previous year can, if they so wish, apply for additional education (10th grade).

Upper secondary education includes upper secondary general education and vocational education. Upper secondary general education is general education preparing for the matriculation examination. It lasts for three years and gives general eligibility for further studies. Vocational education can take place in vocational institutions or as apprenticeship training. Apprenticeship training mainly involves studying in actual work situations at place of work supplemented by theoretical studies at educational institutions. The qualifications are three-year initial vocational qualifications that also provide general eligibility for further studies in polytechnics and universities.

Further and specialist vocational qualifications are vocational further education. They and initial vocational qualifications can also be taken by a skills examination where competence acquired by training preparing for the skills examination or by work experience can be demonstrated.

Studies leading to a polytechnic degree take 3.5 to 4.5 years and post-graduate polytechnic degrees requiring work experience 1 to 1.5 years. A lower university degree can be completed in three years and a higher university degree in five years. Those having attained a higher university degree can continue their studies in post-graduate education towards a licentiate or doctorate.

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Qualifications attained by the population

In 2003, the number of population aged 15 or over was 4.3 million. Of them, 62 per cent had completed some post-basic level qualification. This figure is one percentage point up on the previous year and 32 percentage points higher than in 1975. Under 60-year-old and particularly 20 to 39-year-old women are more highly educated than men are.

The levels of education vary greatly in different municipalities. The level of education was highest in Kauniainen, where 80 per cent of people aged 15 or over had taken some post-basic level qualification. Other top municipalities were Espoo, Oulu, Helsinki and Oulunsalo. The level of education was lowest in Rautavaara, where 39 per cent of those aged 15 had completed some post-basic level qualification. Other municipalities with a low level of education were Geta, Luhanka and Pylkönmäki.

Students and qualifications

In 2003, a total of 581,000 persons were studying in post-basic level education leading to a qualification. The number is 15,400 lower than the total number of students calculated in all sectors of education, 596,400, which is primarily used as the number of students in this review. In the latter figure students may study for one or more qualifications within the same or different sector of education (upper secondary general, vocational, polytechnic or university education), which means that students are taken into account in all types of education they were studying.

Nearly all aged 7 to 15 were studying in comprehensive schools. Over 90 per cent of those aged 16 to 18, good one half of 19 to 24-year-olds and over one quarter of those aged 25 to 29 were studying in some post-basic level education leading to a qualification.

A total of 14,700 foreigners (foreign citizens) were attending education leading to a qualification, of whom nearly every fourth were Russian. There were particularly many foreigners in post-graduate education, 6.3 per cent of all students. The number of foreigners was lowest among students in upper secondary general education, 1.6 per cent.

In 2003, 128,400 qualifications were attained in post-basic level education. The average age at the completion of the matriculation examination was 19, and initial vocational qualifications were taken at the age of 21, polytechnic degrees at 26 and basic university degrees at 27.

Number of students in the regular education system by group and level of education in 2003

(ISCED 1997) 1) Total % Comprehensive
school
education
Upper secondary
general
education
Vocational
education
Polytechnic
education
University
education

0 Pre-primary education 12 434 1,0 12 434 - - - -

Basic education 584 980 49,0 584 980 - - - -
1 Primary education (Grades 1-6) 387 934 32,5 387 934 - - - -
2 Lower secondary education (Grades 7-9, 10) 197 046 16,5 197 046 - - - -

3/4 Upper secondary education 296 475 24,8 - 121 816 174 659 - -

Tertiary education 299 875 25,1 - - 154 129 875 169 846
5 5B programmes 146 0,0 - - 146 - -
5 5A medium programmes 134 201 11,2 - - 8 129 421 4 772
5 5A long/very long programmes 144 321 12,1 - - - 454 143 867
6 Second stage of tertiary education 21 207 1,8 - - - - 21 207
Total 1 193 764 100,0 597 414 121 816 174 813 129 875 169 846

Students by field and level of ISCED in 2003 1)

Broad field Level of education
Field of education Primary 2) Lower
secondary
Upper
secondary
Post
secondary
non-tertiary
First stage
of tertiary
First stage
of tertiary
Second
of tertiary
Total Women
1 2 3 4 5B 5A 6   %
Total 400368 197046 288036 8439 146 278522 21207 1193764 51.0

0 General programmes 400368 197046 121816 - - - - 719230 50.2
01 Basic programmes 400368 197046 121816 - - - - 719230 50.2

1 Education - - 148 - 18 14607 1531 16304 80.2
14 Teacher training and education science - - 148 - 18 14607 1531 16304 80.2

2 Humanities and Arts - - 12023 129 41 40320 3604 56117 69.0
21 Arts - - 11905 129 41 14856 681 27612 63.8
22 Humanities - - 118 - - 25464 2923 28505 74.1

3 Social sciences, Business and Law - - 24262 4293 18 61791 4736 95100 63.7
31 Social and behavioural science - - - - - 14935 2543 17478 66.0
32 Journalism and information - - 73 - - 2795 253 3121 73.6
34 Business and administration - - 24141 4293 18 40113 1248 69813 63.3
38 Law - - - - - 3948 692 4640 54.8
39 Other or unknown social sciences, business and law - - 48 - - - - 48 85.4

4 Science - - 9224 108 - 31756 3060 44148 38.9
42 Life science - - - - - 3613 1013 4626 73.3
44 Physical science - - - - - 6791 1165 7956 47.6
46 Mathematics and statistics - - - - - 3930 305 4235 42.2
48 Computing - - 9224 108 - 17422 575 27329 30.1
49 Other or unknown science - - - - - - 2 2 100.0

5 Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction - - 53683 1768 52 74627 5481 135611 16.9
52 Engineering and engineering trades - - 36839 1583 40 61532 4321 104315 12.6
54 Manufacturing and processing - - 9923 80 11 3954 287 14255 47.1
58 Architecture and building - - 6262 105 1 8396 570 15334 16.7
59 Other or unknown engin., manufact. and constr. - - 659 - - 745 303 1707 26.8

6 Agriculture - - 9780 192 - 6355 464 16791 50.4
62 Agriculture, forestry and fishery - - 9780 192 - 5900 395 16267 49.1
64 Veterinary - - - - - 455 69 524 89.3

7 Health and Welfare - - 23296 482 3 36227 2028 62036 86.6
72 Health - - 21010 482 1 28388 2028 51909 85.7
76 Social services - - 2286 - 2 7819 - 10107 91.4
79 Other or unknown health and welfare - - - - - 20 - 20 80.0

8 Services - - 33804 1467 14 12839 303 48427 67.7
81 Personal services - - 28210 1158 14 10408 114 39904 77.4
84 Transport services - - 3709 2 - 738 - 4449 9.2
85 Environmental protection - - - - - 1235 189 1424 70.4
86 Security services - - 1885 307 - 458 - 2650 19.5

50. Completed qualifications and degrees by field and level of ISCED in 2003 1)

Broad field Level of education
Field of education Lower secondary Upper
secondary
Post
secondary
non-tertiary
First stage
of tertiary
First stage
of tertiary
Second
stage
of tertiary
Total Women
2 3 4 5B 5A 6   %
Total 60831 85974 2955 628 36956 1863 189207 54.9

0 General programmes 60831 35512 - - - - 96343 52.5
01 Basic programmes 60831 35512 - - - - 96343 52.5

1 Education - 148 - 26 2744 128 3046 80.4
14 Teacher training and education science - 148 - 26 2744 128 3046 80.4

2 Humanities and Arts - 2581 31 77 4623 240 7552 71.7
21 Arts - 2581 31 77 2071 43 4803 68.0
22 Humanities - - - - 2552 197 2749 78.1

3 Social sciences, Business and Law - 8503 1749 10 8600 321 19183 69.7
31 Social and behavioural science - - - - 1597 177 1774 69.2
32 Journalism and information - 70 - - 317 21 408 80.4
34 Business and administration - 8433 1749 10 6218 80 16490 70.0
38 Law - - - - 468 43 511 53.6

4 Science - 2306 39 6 3153 379 5883 47.2
42 Life science - - - - 517 141 658 73.4
44 Physical science - - - - 670 163 833 47.7
46 Mathematics and statistics - - - - 284 37 321 44.5
48 Computing - 2306 39 6 1682 38 4071 43.1

5 Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction - 16518 395 78 7729 364 25084 17.1
52 Engineering and engineering trades - 11212 280 60 6307 294 18153 11.4
54 Manufacturing and processing - 3227 65 10 422 29 3753 49.1
58 Architecture and building - 2020 50 8 856 32 2966 10.4
59 Other or unknown engin., manufact. and constr. - 59 - - 144 9 212 37.7

6 Agriculture - 2220 20 1 877 48 3166 50.7
62 Agriculture, forestry and fishery - 2220 20 1 806 36 3083 49.8
64 Veterinary - - - - 71 12 83 84.3

7 Health and Welfare - 8074 83 10 7114 333 15614 88.8
72 Health - 6440 83 4 5496 333 12356 87.6
76 Social services - 1621 - 6 1602 - 3229 93.1
79 Other or unknown health and welfare - 13 - - 16 - 29 86.2

8 Services - 10112 638 420 2116 50 13336 70.8
81 Personal services - 8408 564 25 1852 18 10867 82.4
84 Transport services - 920 1 - 59 - 980 9.7
85 Environmental protection - - - - 137 32 169 67.5
86 Security services - 784 73 395 68 - 1320 20.5

51. Median age of those having completed a post-compulsory education qualification in 2003 according to the ISCED broad field of education

Broad field of education Level of education
Total Upper
secondary
Post
secondary
First stage
of tertiary
First stage
of tertiary
Second
stage
of tertiary

Total 23 20 40 34 27 36

General programmes 19 19 . . . .
Education 28 29 - 26 28 45
Humanities and Arts 27 24 31 28 27 38
Social sciences, Business and Law 27 27 41 29 26 38
Science 27 27 34 28 27 32
Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction 24 20 39 29 26 34
Agriculture 26 25 39 40 27 38
Health and Welfare 28 29 45 33 27 38
Services 24 22 37 36 26 37

Number of qualifications 128 376 85 974 2 955 628 36 956 1 863

Educational institutions, personnel and current expenditure

The number of providers of education and educational institutions fell in 2003. Providers of education (municipalities, joint municipal boards, private corporations, foundations) numbered 918, which is seven lower than the year before. The number of educational institutions was 5,103, down by 82 from the previous year.

In 2002, a total of 134,000 persons were employed by comprehensive schools, upper secondary general schools, vocational institutions, polytechnics and universities. Fifty-nine per cent of them were teachers and 41 per cent other personnel. The number of teachers was 43,800 in comprehensive schools, 7,500 in upper secondary general schools, 13,900 in vocational institutions, 5,800 in polytechnics and 7,700 in universities.

The current expenditure of the regular education system amounted to EUR 8.3 billion in 2002, which is 6.0 per cent of gross domestic product. The current expenditure rose by 2.3 per cent in real terms from the previous year. Pre-primary, primary and lower secondary and upper secondary general education accounted for 46 per cent of the current expenditure, vocational education (including apprenticeship training) for 14 per cent, polytechnic education for eight per cent and university education and research for 18 per cent. The remaining 14 per cent concerned expenditure on administration, student financial aid and other education.

Examination by sector of education

In all, 3,808 comprehensive schools operated at the start of the autumn term of 2003. A total of 597,400 pupils were studying in them, 61,300 in the first grade. The leaving certificate of the comprehensive school was awarded to 60,800 pupils. The number of students taken or transferred to special education was 36,800. In 2003 this figure was 8 per cent higher than the year before. Every fifth pupil in comprehensive school received part-time special education during the term 2002 to 2003 due to slight learning and adjustment difficulties.

Comprehensive school pupils usually start studying a common foreign language (A1 language) in the third grade, when 90 per cent of the pupils learn A1 English. In 2003 an optional language (A2 language) was studied in 284 municipalities, i.e. 64 per cent of all municipalities. The most popular optional languages were German and English.

Upper secondary general education was provided in 487 educational institutions. A total of 121,800 students were in upper secondary general education, 57 of whom were female. In 2003, 35,200 completed the matriculation examination, 229 the IB (International Baccalaureat), 43 the Reifeprüfung and 58 the Gymnasieexamen examinations.

Almost all students in upper secondary general education studied English, Swedish and Finnish either as a mother tongue, common or optional language. In spring 2003, among those who had completed the entire upper secondary general education syllabus 41 per cent had studied German, 21 per cent French, eight per cent Spanish and five per cent Russian. The proportions of other language students were under four per cent.

In autumn 2003, vocational education was given in 353 educational institutions. A total of 174,800 students were studying in vocational education, of whom 84 per cent were in initial vocational education and 16 per cent in education preparing for further and specialist vocational qualifications. One half of the students in vocational education were male and one half female.

In 2003, a total of 54,100 vocational qualifications were taken, of which 72 per cent were initial vocational qualifications and 28 per cent further and specialist qualifications.

In autumn 2003, the number of polytechnics was 31. Altogether 129,900 students were studying in polytechnic education, nearly 500 for a post-graduate polytechnic degree. Women made up 53 per cent of all students in polytechnics. In all, 20,600 polytechnic qualifications were taken. No one has as yet completed a post-graduate polytechnic degree.

In autumn 2003, 20 universities provided university education. A total of 169,800 students were in university education leading to a qualification and 54 per cent of them were women. In all, 18,200 degrees were completed in universities, of which 3,300 were lower university degrees, 12,400 higher university degrees, 600 specialist degrees in medicine, 600 licentiates and 1,300 doctorates.

Adult education was arranged in 889 educational institutions in 2003. The number of participating cases recorded in adult education was 2.8 million and the hours of instruction 11 million. The number of participating cases was three per cent and the number hours of instruction was 6 per cent higher than in the previous year.

Educational institutions, applicants, new students, students and qualifications by sector of education in 2003

Type of education Educational institutions
providing education
Applicants New
students
Students Qualifications,
degrees

Comprehensive school education 1) 3 808 - 61 300 597 414 60 831
Upper secondary general education 487 44 941 42 605 121 816 35 512
Vocational education 353 93 035 77 409 174 813 54 079
Polytechnic education 31 89 984 36 701 129 875 20 588
University education 20 68 420 21 750 169 846 18 197

Progress of studies

A total of 97 per cent of those having left the comprehensive school in 2003 sought admission in the same year either to upper secondary general education or vocational education or additional education (10th grade) and as many as 94 per cent were able to continue their studies. In all, 75 per cent of those having completed the matriculation examination in 2003 applied for further studies during the year of matriculation and 38 per cent were able to get in.

University graduates are placed best into working life in the short term, because nearly 90 per cent of those who graduated in 2001 were in working life by the end of 2002. Those who had completed comprehensive and upper secondary general education mostly carried on in full-time education. Studying also continued either full-time or alongside work after vocational education. One fifth of those with vocational upper secondary or vocational post-secondary level qualifications went on studying.

Information on discontinuation of education was derived by following in September 2002 the situation of students attending post-comprehensive school education leading to a qualification in September 2001. The number of drop-outs in upper secondary general education and university education was lowest compared with the number of students, four per cent in upper secondary general education and five per cent in universities. The corresponding proportion was highest in vocational education, where the ratio of drop-outs to the number of students was 12 per cent. In polytechnic education this figure was 7.6 per cent. Discontinuation of education was slightly lower than in the previous year in all sectors of education.


Last updated 21.4.2005