Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies Country Pages


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Country overview



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DOI: 10.5040/9781350995963.0009

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    Bloomsbury Publishing
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Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies Country
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Country overview

Before Finland’s independence in 1917, the moderate expansion of formal education was boosted by industrialization and urbanization. After the Second World War the creation of a Nordic-style welfare state with economic growth rapidly expanded all levels of education. Today Finnish education is universally provided, funded by the state, and free from the preprimary level.

Early childhood education and care (ECEC, ISCED 0) includes preprimary education for 6-year-olds and preceding integrated ECEC services. Compulsory nine-year comprehensive schools cover primary and lower secondary education (ISCED 1–2). Three years of upper secondary education (ISCED 3–4) are organized by general or vocational institutions. Universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS), both have three-year bachelor and two-year master’s programs (ISCED 6–7). Doctoral degrees (ISCED 8) can be pursued only in universities.. Liberal adult education is widely offered.

The Finnish parliament has legislative power over education. The government can draft legislation and implements any resulting reforms. The Ministry of Education and Culture has the main responsibilities for general national planning. The Finnish National Agency of Education plans the core curriculum from ECEC until upper secondary education. Regional authorities have tasks in relation to planning and complaints.

Municipalities are the main providers of ECEC, and primary and secondary education. There is also a small, though growing, proportion of private providers in ECEC. Each education provider drafts a curriculum based on the national core curriculum.

Universities are either corporations under public law or private foundations. They are autonomous; UASs are nonprofit limited companies. Most higher education funding is provided by the state.

Student and institutional evaluation is done by an independent agency, the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. All education providers are also required to evaluate their education. Evaluation is used for development purposes and not for inciting competition or top-down governance.

Read more about education and childhood in Finland

Statistical information

GDP (current US$)

School enrollment, primary (% gross)

Life expectancy at birth, total (years)

Population, total

Full country profile

Table 1. Educational Institutions of the School System and Numbers of Students by Type of Educational Institution, 2017. Source: Statistics Finland (n.d.), “A Total of 2,300 Comprehensive Schools in Operation, the Share of Joint Growing.” tilastokeskus.fi. http://www.tilastokeskus.fi/til/kjarj/2017/kjarj_2017_2018-02-13_tie_001_en.html (accessed November 30, 2018).

Type of Educational InstitutionNumberStudents
Comprehensive Schools2,276539,600
Comprehensive School Level Special Education Schools734,400
Upper Secondary General Schools340109,500
Comprehensive and Upper Secondary General Level Schools4128,100
Vocational Institutes96179,100
Special Needs Vocational Institutes65,100
Specialised Vocational Institutes2630,500
Vocational Adult Education Centers2027,600
Fire, Police, and Security Service Institutes1200
Military Vocational Institutes6
Universities of Applied Sciences25144,900
Military Academies11,000
Music Schools and Colleges8464,100
Sports Institutes149,000
Folk High Schools7318,100
Adult Education Centers181464,400
Study Circle Centers1230,700
Summer Universities2031,600
Other Educational Institutions6400

Table 2. Current Expenditure on Regular Education System by Type of Expenditure, 2016. Source: Statistics Finland (n.d.), “Current Expenditure on the Regular Education System Remained Unchanged in 2016.” tilastokeskus.fi. https://www.tilastokeskus.fi/til/kotal/2016/kotal_2016_2018-05-09_tie_001_en.html (accessed November 30, 2018).

Type of Expenditure€ million%
Preprimary education for 6-year-old children (preschool education) in day care centers and comprehensive schools.[a]
Preprimary Education†3613.00
Comprehensive School Education4,69138.40
Upper Secondary General Education7306.00
Vocational Education1,74914.30
Apprenticeship Training1421.20
University of Applied Sciences Education9167.50
University Education and Research‡2,28418.70
Other Education4743.90
Financial Aid for Students8667.10
Total 12,213 100.00

[a] Includes universities’ external financing for research.

Table 3. Population with Educational Qualification by Level of Education, Field of Education, and Gender, 2017. Source: Statistics Finland (n.d.), “Educational Qualifications Highest Among Persons Aged 40 to 44 in 2017.” tilastokeskus.fi. http://www.tilastokeskus.fi/til/vkour/2017/vkour_2017_2018-11-02_tie_001_en.html (accessed November 30, 2018).

Field of Education GenderLevel of Education
Total Upper Secondary Education Postsecondary Non-tertiary Education Tertiary Level Total Short-cycle Tertiary Education Bachelor’s or Equivalent Level Master’s or Equivalent Level Doctoral or Equivalent Level
Total Total 3,334,648 1,863,943 38,429 1,432,276 436,426 518,969 431,146 45,735
Women 1,726,666 885,689 17,929 823,048 268,435 292,374 241,915 20,324
Generic Programs and QualificationsTotal307,607307,607
Arts and HumanitiesTotal187,14358,133913128,0976,64243,08372,9455,427
Social Sciences, Journalism, and InformationTotal75,99851775,4813,82715,38951,0385,227
Business, Administration, and LawTotal545,948177,01916,212352,717190,00991,01468,8792,815
Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and StatisticsTotal51,9802,6665649,2587,69932,7348,825
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)Total116,98537,69259578,69814,53039,54922,3812,238
Women23,4225,20910718,1065, 6527,5344,519401
Engineering, Manufacturing, and ConstructionTotal903,014622,4856,242274,28775,486121,52569,7177,559
Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, and VeterinaryTotal136,70195,23879640,66714,00713,91011,3511,399
Health and WelfareTotal494,223225,6672,991265,56595,334116,17444,4619,596

Regional Editor

Jaakko Kauko, Professor, Tampere University, Finland

Jaakko Kauko, PhD, MSocSc, is Professor in Education Policy at the Faculty of Education and Culture, Tampere University, Finland. His research focuses on politics and policymaking in education, and questions related to comparative education. His latest publications include a final report, edited with Risto Rinne and Tuomas Takala, from a comparative research project Politics of Quality in Education: A Comparative Study of Brazil, China, and Russia (2018), and a monograph, with Hannu Simola, Janne Varjo, Mira Kalalahti, and Fritjof Sahlström, titled Dynamics in Education Politics: Understanding and Explaining the Finnish Case (2017).


  • Elina Fonsén (University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Tuuli From (University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Johanna Hakala (Academy of Finland, Finland)

  • Noora Heiskanen (University of Jyvaskyla, Finland)

  • Heidi Harju-Luukkainen (University of Gothenburg, Sweden; University of California, Los Angeles, USA; University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

  • Mira Kalalahti (University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Jarmo Kallunki (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Kirsti Karila (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Jaakko Kauko (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Jussi Kivistö (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Vuokko Kohtamäki (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Anna Medvedeva (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Maiju Paananen (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Elias Pekkola (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Maria Pietilä (University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Laura Rantavuori (University of Tampere, Finland)

  • Anna Slotte (University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Janne Varjo (University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Riitta Viitala (University of Jyvaskyla, Finland)