Helsinki is the capital of Finland, a country in Northern Europe’s Scandinavia region. With an urban population of over 1.25 million residents, Helsinki is Finland’s largest city and its centre for politics, finance, culture and education. Major Finnish businesses in industries such as automobiles, electronics, and chemicals are all based in Helsinki.
Situated on the southern coast of Finland, Helsinki also offers great connectivity to mainland Europe as well as international destinations. Helsinki is considered one of the world’s best cities for safe urban living and excellent public infrastructure.
Alongside the local Finnish and Swedish languages, English is spoken by over 70% of the country’s residents. This ensures that international students can comfortably travel and explore the stunning Scandinavian country, although it is recommended that you learn basic terms in Finnish or Swedish.
Originally established in the nearby city of Turku in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Åbo, the University of Helsinki is Finland’s largest university with a total enrollment of over 30,000 students of which about 1,500 are international students.
The university primarily operates on 4 campuses based in various Helsinki neighbourhoods – City Centre, Kumpula, Meilahti and Viikki. Additionally, the university operates nine satellite campuses and institutes all over Finland, such as the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station and the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station.
The University of Helsinki is well-known for its high-quality research facilities, and the university currently focuses on four research themes – the digital world, ageing and health, globalisation, and sustainable development. World-leading research centres at the university include the Aleksanteri Institute and the Centre for Consumer Society Research.
For undergraduate international students, the university offers the Bachelor in Science degree programme in English. At postgraduate level, the university offers as many as 36 master’s programmes in English.
Located just half an hour west of downtown Helsinki in the Espoo suburb, Aalto University is home to about 20,000 students. With a large international student community of nearly 5,000 admits, Aalto University offers a welcoming and secure university experience where you will have plenty of support from fellow international students.
Aalto University was established in 2010 following the merger of Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design Helsinki. As a result, the university offers top-ranked degree programmes and research centres across multiple disciplines.
Aalto University’s primary campus is in the Otaniemi neighbourhood of Espoo, and it is located near the offices of some of Finland’s largest businesses and employers. This proximity allows the university’s international students to secure desirable internships and post-graduation employment with world-leading firms while continuing with their academic degrees.
Aalto University offers bachelor’s programmes in English in various disciplines including Business & Economics, Science & Technology and Art & Design. At master’s level, the university offers more than 100 degree programmes in English for international students.
Located two hours west of Helsinki in the nearby town of Turku, the University of Turku is Finland’s second-largest university with a total enrollment of nearly 20,000 students from more than 100 countries.
The university has multiple campuses spread all over Turku in neighbourhoods such as Pori, Rauma and the city centre area. Turku is a charming university town with over 40,000 student residents, making it a vibrant and youthful city where you can enjoy multiple fun-filled activities outside the classroom.
The University of Turku currently focuses its research on six themes: biofutures, digital futures, cultural memory & social change, young people & learning, drug development & diagnostics, and sea & maritime studies. The university maintains technical and research partnerships with over 400 top-ranked universities worldwide, allowing international students to access foreign research centres and other world-leading facilities worldwide. The University of Turku offers a wide variety of degree programmes in English across undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Founded in 1918 in Turku, Abo Akademi University is the only primarily Swedish-language institution of higher education outside Sweden. Alongside its primary campus in Turku, Abo Akademi University also operates a campus in the town of Vaasa where its faculty of education and welfare studies is based.
Abo Akademi University is home to nearly 5,500 enrolled students of which about 800 are international students. Despite its small class sizes, the university is well-regarded for its high research output and its current research strengths include minority research and molecular processes. Although the primary language of instruction at Abo Akademi University is Swedish, the university offers as many as 250 courses annually in English.
Below are the top-ranked Helsinki universities for international students, with their ranks in two of the world’s most well-respected international university rankings, the QS 2024 University World rankings and the Times Higher Education 2024 Rankings.
For more information about rankings systems and methodologies see our University rankings explained guide.
|University||QS World Ranking 2024||Times Higher Education Ranking 2024||QS Rank in Finland||THE Rank in Finland|
|University of Helsinki||115||121||2||1|
|University of Turku||=315||301-350||4||=4|
|Abo Akademi University||601-610||501-600||9||=6|
In addition to the four top-ranked universities in and around Helsinki, the region also offers many world-class institutes specialising in disciplines such as Economics, Applied Sciences and Business Management. A few of the top-ranked institutes in Helsinki for international students are:
Since these institutes teach most courses in Finnish or Swedish, it is recommended that you conduct further research to identify your preferred English-taught degree programmes in each Helsinki institute.
International students at top-ranked Helsinki universities can expect to pay at least 1,500-2,000 US Dollars per year for degree programmes taught in English. Average tuition prices for English-taught degree programmes usually range between 5,000-18,000 US Dollars per annum. Finnish universities generally offer a variety of scholarships, and international students should research the scholarships that they are eligible for. Meanwhile, international students pursuing PhD degree programmes can study free of charge in Helsinki.
Many international students choose to work part-time in order to offset their tuition expenses. Current student visa rules allow you to work as many hours as you’d like even during the academic semester, but only if your work position is related to your degree programme. If not, you will still be able to work 25 hours a week during the semester, and full-time during academic breaks.
As for living costs, the University of Helsinki estimates that international students should budget between 700-1,000 US Dollars every month. This figure includes 400-600 US Dollars for shared accommodation, 200-250 US Dollars for food expenses, 80-120 US Dollars for transport expenses and another 70-100 US Dollars for utilities and miscellaneous expenses. This estimated budget, combined with the relatively low tuition costs in most Helsinki universities, shows the value-for-money aspect of a degree at top Helsinki universities for international students.
As a major European city with a centuries-long history, Helsinki offers plenty of interesting historical and cultural venues for international students to explore during their time away from the classroom. Having also become an increasingly multicultural city with a large immigrant community, Helsinki offers a wide range of restaurants with international cuisines.
The natural beauty of Scandinavia makes Finland a tourist-favourite destination, and international students can take advantage of the country’s excellent road and train network to explore the countryside. Below are a few of the must-visit venues in and around Helsinki for international students:
In addition to exploring Finland, international students can make quick weekend trips by road to neighbouring Scandinavian countries including Denmark and Norway. Moreover, the Helsinki Airport receives regular flights from all over Europe, and international students can comfortably travel from their home countries to Helsinki via major European hubs such as Amsterdam and London. Top-ranked Helsinki universities offer an excellent activity-filled lifestyle alongside world-class research and educational standards at affordable prices.Study in Finland
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