Concepts and definitions


Education refers here to education leading to a qualification or degree.

Education leading to a qualification or degree (qualification or degree-oriented education) refers to education leading to the completion of the full syllabus of comprehensive school (school-leaving certificate), completion of the full syllabus of upper secondary general school (matriculation examination certificate), International Baccalaureate certificate, Reifeprüfung certificate, European Baccalaureate certificate, Gymnasieexamen certificate, initial vocational qualification, basic vocational qualification, specialist vocational qualification, university of applied sciences degree, higher university of applied sciences degree or university degree.

Education leading to a qualification or degree is classified by the classification of education.

Educational system

The Finnish educational system is comprised of the following:

Pre-primary education is provided in Finland to 6-year-old children, usually at children's day care homes. Some 6-year-old children receive pre-primary education in comprehensive schools. Attendance of pre-primary education has been compulsory since 2015.

Comprehensive school education is general knowledge education provided for entire age cohorts. All children permanently resident in Finland must attend compulsory education. Compulsory education starts in the year of the child's seventh birthday.

Compulsory education finishes when the syllabus of comprehensives school education has been completed (9-year comprehensive school), or 10 years from the start of compulsory education. In exceptional cases compulsory education may start already at the age of six and last 11 years due to a disability or illness. A student who has received a leaving certificate from comprehensive school in the same year or in the year before it may continue to attend optional additional education (10th grade).

Post-comprehensive school education, or upper secondary general education and vocational education represent secondary level of education. Upper secondary general school education is education leading to a matriculation examination. Its scope is three years and it gives general eligibility to further education. Vocational education can be either educational institution-based or apprenticeship training. In apprenticeship training, most of the studying is comprised of learning through practical work tasks at a workplace. The qualifications are initial vocational qualifications attained in three years, which also give general eligibility to further polytechnic or university studies.

Further and specialist vocational qualifications represent further vocational education. They, as well as initial vocational qualifications can be attained in a skills examination that can be taken irrespective of the way of acquisition of professional skills, and in which skills can be proven on the basis of preparatory education for a skills examination or work experience.

Attainment of university of applied sciences degrees takes 3.5 to 4.5 years and higher university of applied sciences degrees requiring work practice 1-1.5 years. Attainment of lower university degrees takes three years while higher university degrees take two years longer. Attainers of higher level university degrees may continue their studies to licentiate and doctorate level degrees.

Language of teaching of an educational institution

In the statistics on providers of education and educational institution the language of teaching is based on a public authority's decision about it. An educational institution may also provide teaching in a language other than that stated in the decision.

Languages of teaching of educational institutions are grouped as follows:

1 Finnish

2 Swedish

3 Finnish/Swedish

4 English

5 Sami

9 Other.

The language of teaching of an educational institution is Finnish/Swedish when the educational institution provides teaching in both languages.

Provider of education

In the statistics on providers of education and educational institutions and in the statistics on vocational education, providers of education refer to bodies entrusted with the task of providing education. The task of provision of education is defined in law (comprehensive school education) or in a licence to provide education or maintain an educational institution granted by the Ministry of Education or similar public authority. Providers or education are usually municipalities, joint municipal boards, or private corporations or foundations. Statistics Finland has assigned an individual system ID for each provider of education.


In the statistics on providers of education and educational institutions, students refer to students studying at educational institutions within the school system at the time of the inquiry. The time of the inquiry is the week containing the 20th of September for study circle centres, the entire autumn term for folk high schools (estimate of number of students) and 20 September for other educational institutions.

Type of owner of educational institution

In the statistics on providers of education and educational institutions owners of educational institutions are divided into the following groups:

1 Private

2 State

3 Municipality

4 Joint municipal board

5 Region of Åland

9 Other.

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Providers of education and educational institutions [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5825. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 22.1.2021].
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