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Concepts and definitions

Education

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.

Education

An organised activity, the aim of which is to produce competence based on teaching.

Comment:

Education can be divided into education and training leading to a qualification or degree and non-qualification studies.

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.

Level of education

Category into which programmes leading to a qualification or degree are divided on the basis of the requirement level.

Comment:

Selection to education on a particular level of education often requires completion of a lower level of education.

The level of education is measured on the basis of both the overall duration or target time of the education and the requirement level.

Levels of education: early childhood education and care and pre-primary education (duration varies), primary education (6 years), lower secondary education (3 years, in total 9 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), upper secondary education (3 years, in total 12 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), post-secondary non-tertiary education (1-2 years, in total 13-14 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), lowest tertiary education (2-3 years, in total 14-15 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), bachelor's or equivalent level (3-4 years, in total 15-16 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), master's or equivalent level (5-6 years, in total 17-18 years from the beginning of comprehensive education) and second stage of tertiary education (2-4 years, in total 19-22 years from the beginning of comprehensive education).

The level of education indicator cannot be calculated directly on the basis of the duration presented in this concept.

Main type of activity

The concept of main type of activity describes the nature of a person's economic activity. The population is divided into people in the labour force and those outside the labour force. These categories can further be divided into subgroups. The classification is based on data on a person's main type of activity during the last week of the year.

The following classification is used:

Labour force

  • employed labour force
  • unemployed

Persons outside the labour force

  • 0-14-year-olds
  • students, pupils
  • pensioners
  • conscripts, conscientious objectors
  • others outside the labour force.

Information on the main type of activity is based on data obtained from various registers. Where the data conflict as to whether a person is in the labour force or outside it, priority is given to the former. If, within the labour force, the data conflict as to whether a person is unemployed or employed, priority is given to the former.

The group "others outside the labour force" consists of persons who are not in the labour force and do not belong to the following groups: 0-14-year-olds, students, conscripts, conscientous objectors or pensioners.

New student

In the statistics on entrants to education and progress of studies new students in upper secondary general education and university of applied sciences education refer to the students studying on 20 September who had registered into certain studies in the educational institution concerned between 1 January and 20 September. New students in vocational education refer to students who became registered in the educational institution during the calendar year studying in curriculum-based vocational education and attending education preparing for a skills examination, as well as students who have made an apprenticeship training agreement during the calendar year. Before 2013, new students in curriculum-based vocational education were those registered between 1 January and 20 September. From 2010 onwards, new students in university education refer to students having started studies leading to the current university degree at the university concerned and studying on 20 September. Previously, new students referred to students that had enrolled at the university concerned for the first time to study for a lower or upper university degree in any field of education and studying on 20 September.

The number of new students is lower than in other statistics by sector of education because it only includes students with a correct Finnish personal ID number and because a new student is only included once in the number of students by sector of education, level of education or some other variable, such as educational institute.

Programme leading to a qualification or degree; formal education

Programme leading to a qualification or degree refers to education comprising the comprehensive education syllabus, the general upper secondary education syllabus, the matriculation examination, the international diplomas, the Gymnasieexamen diploma, or education and training leading to an initial vocational qualification, a further vocational qualification, a specialist vocational qualification, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a licentiate, a doctoral degree, or a specialist degree in veterinary medicine.

Qualification or degree

In statistics on the educational structure of the population, transition form school to further education and work and progress of studies attainers of qualifications or degrees refer to completers of matriculation examination, international matriculation examinations (IB, Reifeprüfung or Gymnasieexamen examination), and attainers of vocational qualifications, university of applied sciences degrees, higher university of applied sciences degrees or university degrees by the end of the statistical reference year. Attainers of qualifications or degrees also include attainers of qualifications or degrees in the armed services, frontier guard service or abroad. One qualification or degree per person is included in statistics: vocational qualification attained at the highest level of education/most recently attained.

The data are obtained from Statistics Finland's Register of Completed Education and Degrees. Data can only be entered into the Register for persons who have a Finnish personal ID number. For this reason data on the qualifications or degrees of persons without a personal ID number, e.g. many foreign persons, are missing from the Register.

Sector of education

Comprehensive education, general upper secondary education, vocational education, university of applied sciences education, university education.

Student

A learner studying in other than pre-primary or comprehensive education.

Comment

Students include persons studying in general upper secondary school, vocational upper secondary education and training, tertiary education and liberal adult education.

Adults studying in comprehensive education are also referred to as students.

In Statistics Finland's statistics the concept refers to upper secondary and tertiary level students.

In Statistics Finland's statistics students are required to be registered at an educational institution.

Student

In the statistics on students and qualifications of educational institutions, on progress of studies, on employment of students and on transition from school to further education and work, students refer to the students attending upper secondary general, vocational, university of applied sciences education and university education leading to a qualification or degree and registered at educational institutions on 20 September and, since 2004, in respect of preparatory education for a skills examination and apprenticeship training, between 1 January and 31 December of the statistical reference year. In the statistics on students and qualifications of educational institutions, students also include comprehensive school students according to the situation on 20 September. Up to 2001, data on students in university education describe the situation on 31 December and include attainers of a degree in autumn.

University education

Tertiary education provided by universities.

Comment:

The objective of the education is a bachelor’s or master’s degree or a scientific postgraduate degree, which are licentiate's and doctoral degrees.

Education not leading to a qualification or degree can also be completed.

Vocational education and training

Education and training completed after the comprehensive education syllabus, aimed at producing vocational competence.

Comment:

Initial, further and specialist vocational qualifications can be obtained in vocational education and training.

In addition to completing a qualification, parts of a qualification can also be completed in vocational education and training.

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Progress of studies [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-1021. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 17.5.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/opku/kas_en.html