upper secondary education

The Finnish education system has enjoyed a lot of ‘buzz’ … and for good reason too. The Early Childhood, Basic and Upper Secondary Education stages routinely outperforms the UK, USA and Australia in Maths, Reading and Science and continually ranks highly on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).

People may fire out the simple facts such as; shorter schools days and no standardised testing, but the truth is that the system is based on several core principles with the first and most important that equal access to education is a constitutional right to all. Another principle is that the students can cultivate and choose their path that will never lead to a dead end.

In this 3rd and final bog we look at Upper Secondary Education, with a little bit about Higher Education. If you missed the previous 2 blogs, go back and read them here (1st) and here (2nd).

After Basic Education has been completed education then becomes non-compulsory, however, 90% of students in Finland continue with their studies into Upper Secondary Education. With the mantra of “no dead ends”, the 10% of  students that don’t immediately go into Upper Secondary Education can return at any time and importantly at no extra cost.

upper secondary education

This level of education is split into 2 main paths, ‘general’ and ‘vocational’, and both take approximately 3 years to complete.

The ‘general’ route takes the form of course work, but where students have the freedom to decide their study schedules. At the end of this path comes Finland’s only standardised test, the national matriculation exam. This is used for the students college or university application.

The ‘vocational’ route is more focussed towards jobs and incorporates apprenticeships as well as in school learning. Approximately 40% of students focus down this route after basic education. This stage ends with a competence-based qualification upon the completion of an individual study plan.

These route are not fixed and students are not locked into a path with no opportunity to change. The two routes can be intertwined in order that students can discover new interested and create routes and paths that thread between the two.

So, Higher Education. First of all, like all Basic Education and Upper Secondary, it is FREE

There are two types of Higher Education in Finland; Universities and Universities of Applied Science. Universities of applied science put the focus on practical applications whilst universities look at the scientific research. After 4 years of study, students receive a bachelor’s degree whilst a Masters student will usually take 5 to 6 years. Like the rest of its education system, universities are also flexible allowing students to change their pathways.

It is not uncommon for adults to pursue higher education either as part of a company training programme or as an individual. It is not free for an adult, but it is highly subsidised depending on the personal circumstances of the student.

This brings to an end our 3 blogs about the education system in Finland and why it works.

Look out for more blogs coming soon in regards to New Nordic School. New Nordic School and GSE have recently partnered to transform education across the world and we will look into the specifics of the New Nordic School curriculum in later blogs.

Read our announcement here.

Who is Global Services in Education (GSE)

Global Services in Education is a company led by education experts. They are proven education leaders who know how to set up and manage international schools. GSE can lead the project from the initial idea to set up and full management. Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and High School, Universities and Adult education.

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Duncan Douglas, Project Manager at Global Services in Education:
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