If you are eyeing a move to Finland for your studies, that’s a good decision. Besides, Finland is one of the world’s best study destinations right now, and it’s a welcoming country for international students. Just like the title suggests, I’ll be talking about studying in Finland. I will walk you through all you need to know on how to study in Finland from Nigeria, so you can join me.
I’ve studied here myself and am familiar with the process since I graduated from a Finnish university. If you have been following this blog, you will also see some of my posts talking about tuition-free education and studying abroad. However, in this post, I want to focus on everything about studying in Finland. We will walk through topics such as the admission process, transportation, visa applications, and finding accommodation.
Is Finland a Good Country to Study for Nigerians?
The education quality in Finland is high, no matter which university you end up choosing. I assure you that you are going to receive a top-notch education. There are several Finnish universities worth checking out, such as the University of Helsinki, the University of Turku (where I studied), and the University of Tampere, among others. Finnish universities actually rank in the top 100 in the world, according to Times Higher Education, and we have the University of Helsinki in 121st position. In the top 200, we have Aalto University, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, and the University of Oulu. Tampere University comes in the top 300.
I’ll share a link to an official website that’s packed with information on everything you need to know about studying in Finland. The website is called Studying in Finland.
How to Study in Finland from Nigeria
So, we will get into the necessary steps you’ll follow to study abroad in Finland at any Finnish university of your choice.
1. Gather the Documents You’ll Need
When applying for different levels of education, you’ll need specific documents. For example, if you are going for a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need your high school diploma and possibly SAT scores. Going for a master’s? Then, your bachelor’s degree is a must-have. And if you are setting your sights on a PhD, you’ll need both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. For a PhD, you’ll also need to have connected with a supervisor willing to oversee your thesis. Also, you’ll need to send your academic transcript. Typically, you won’t send this yourself; it’s usually sent directly by your home institution to the Finnish university. The reason is to make sure that it is authentic, especially in places such as Finland where they verify documents.
2. Draft Your Statement of Intent or Motivation Letter
Sometimes, this letter is referred to as a statement of purpose. While not always required, a recommendation letter from your current school could also be useful to study in Finland from Nigeria. Even if it’s not explicitly requested, you should still have one handy. However, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you from admission if you don’t.
Just make sure to have all the necessary documents ready. While preparing to study in Finland, you should also check out the Studying in Finland website which I mentioned earlier. This website will give you a comprehensive list of all the documents you need for your specific program.
3. Take IELTS or TOEFL Tests
Also, often they’ll ask you to show that you are good at English, which means taking tests like IELTS or TOEFL. They usually have a score they want you to get, like maybe 6.5, 7.5, or 6.0. And they often require you shouldn’t get less than, let’s say, 5.5 or 6.0 in any part of the test. Once you secure admission at the university, the next step is applying for a visa.
4. Apply for an Admission at a Finnish University
Of course, you have to be accepted by the Finnish university before you can apply for a study visa. Education was free for BSc, masters, and PhD students until 2016. But starting in 2017, which is when I began my studies, they started charging tuition for students from outside the EU or EEA. So, if you are not from the European Union or European Economic Area, you’ll need to pay tuition fees. However, you can apply for scholarships, like I did.
5. Consider Scholarships
I applied for a few scholarships and got them. You can try getting scholarships too. Sometimes they might cover all your tuition, other times just half. So, if your tuition is, say, 8,000 euros, you might only need to pay 4,000 euros if you get a half scholarship, as they’ll cover the rest. But if you get a full scholarship, you don’t have to pay tuition at all.
6. Prepare Your Proof of Funds
Then, your main concern would be living expenses. The cost of living depends on where you are staying. For example, I lived in Turku, Finland. But no matter the city, there’s a minimum amount you need to show you have for your visa. Right now, it’s still about 560 euros a month. So, you need to prove you have this amount for a whole year, which adds up to about 6,720 euros. Yes, that’s a must. Finland is actually one of the cheapest countries for Nigerians to study right now.
Unlike some countries such as Germany and Norway, Finland doesn’t require you to have a blocked account. This means you won’t be sending your money to a Finnish account; it stays in your own account, and you can even be sponsored. You just need to make sure you have €6,720 in your account when applying for a visa.
7. Apply for a Resident Permit
Once you get your admission letter, this proof of income becomes one of the important documents you’ll need to present at the embassy or VFS. You’ll also need to show you have enough money to live in Finland, which is really important.
Sometimes, you might have to write a statement of purpose explaining why you want to study in Finland, among other things. Proof of identity, such as an international passport, and passport photographs are also required. When you start the visa application process, they’ll eventually call you for an interview. The interview is simple, especially if you are genuinely going to Finland to study. They’ll ask about your previous studies, what you plan to study in Finland, why you chose Finland, and what you know about the country. I have made a detailed post talking about the Finland study visa interview questions—make sure to check out this article.
You don’t have to know everything, like not too much about the country, but if you plan to study abroad and have gone through the application process, you should know a bit about your destination, your preferred course, the university, and maybe even the surrounding countries. It’s simple. Just go with the flow, and if all goes well, they’ll contact you to issue your residence permit. You’ll be informed about how to get your residence permit, either by picking it up yourself from the embassy or having it sent to your home address. The website for the visa application process is migri.fi/ You apply through the Finnish embassy in your country. However, if there’s no Finnish embassy in your country, you’ll need to go to one in a nearby country. For example, Ghanaians often travel to Nigeria to visit the Finnish embassy.
8. Plan Your Trip to Finland
Once you have your residence permit, you are all set to go. You can start planning your trip to move and study in Finland from Nigeria, like buying your flight ticket and everything. At the same time, you’ll be in touch with your school or university, and they’ll be helping you find accommodation. If you have the means, you might opt for a private flat, but there’s also more affordable housing provided by the government. For example, in Turku, there’s an organization that works with the university called TYS.fi, which offers budget-friendly options for students. The cost of living here in Finland ranges from about 225 euros to 575 euros, depending on what you are looking for. Naturally, the nicer the place, the higher the price. You might end up in an apartment that’s less expensive than a self-contained unit or a family apartment. Sometimes, you might have to share a kitchen or bathroom with others.
It all comes down to your personal preferences and budget. But if you are okay with sharing, you could save some money. Universities are usually very supportive, and they provide tutors—trained volunteers who assist you with day-to-day tasks.
They would have reached out to you even before you left your home country to offer their assistance in sorting out your accommodation and transportation. Often, they even meet you upon your arrival to ensure you safely reach and settle into your accommodation. They assist you in opening a bank account as well. Moreover, there’s a personal identification number, similar to the social security number in the U.S., that every resident in Finland must have. You need this number to open a bank account.
9. Obtain an Insurance
Once you have secured your admission, you’ll have your visa and residence permits sorted, and your tutor will be there to support you. You can also reach out to your educational coordinator for any help. Everything should proceed well. You’ll need insurance. For your first residence permits, you’ll have to renew your insurance in the second year too.
When renewing your permit, you’ll need to prove that you have enough funds for your living costs and ensure your insurance is fully covered. In Finland, you can work up to 20 hours a week, which adds up to 80 hours a month. Depending on the part-time job, you could earn around 11 to 12 euros an hour. So, if you do the math, 20 hours at 11 euros each gives you 220 euros a week, and multiplied by 4, that’s 880 euros a month. You might even earn more if you find a higher-paying job. Some people take on two jobs, but you must not work more than the 20 hours a week limit. Going over this limit could complicate things when it’s time to renew your residence permit.
Transportation in Finland
Transportation in Finland is interesting. Once you get your transportation card, like in Turku, the organization responsible for transportation is called Foli. Their website is foli.fi. In Helsinki, it’s managed by HSL. And it varies in other areas too. They often offer discounted transportation for students, allowing you to pay monthly, which is quite affordable. Age can determine the cost too. If you are over 35, you might pay more, like 50 euros a month, because they consider you a fully independent adult who should contribute to the system. The pass gives you unlimited travel for a month. You can use it on buses and even city bikes, which is awesome.
You can pick up a bike and explore, then get back to your studies and fun. Remember to focus on the reason you are here, which is to study since you have a study visa and not a work visa. If you plan to switch from a student permit later, make sure to complete your studies first—it is usually a requirement.
So, we’ve looked at everything you really need to know as a student moving to Finland. With this guide, you’ll be able to move and study in Finland from Nigeria. It’s worth applying to study here because you never know what could happen. You can improve your chances and open up more possibilities by applying to more than one or two schools or programs. Please, don’t forget to share this post using any of the share buttons that interest you.