Ending En Saga

As of today, Finnish university education will no longer be free for non-EU students. The long-dreaded regulation (actually passed by Finland’s parliament over 18 months ago) comes to at least €1,500 ($1,634) in yearly tuition for those pursuing undergraduate or Master’s degrees. Don’t get too excited by the low figure: according to Masters Portal, the average will be closer to between €10K and 16K per year (with the University of Helsinki maxing out at €25K). This, on top of the country’s comparatively high (for students) monthly cost of living, which comes in around €900 ($1,100). So much for Scandinavian utopias, even if you don’t mind the long winters.

So much for my ASHE presentation on international Master’s programs in Finland this November. (See you in Houston for further details.)

But wait, there’s more to it. These fees do not apply to doctoral students, though that’s cold comfort given that the only institutional support available to help mitigate living expenses is the EDUFI Fellowship, which amounts to €1500 per month for a lifetime maximum of 12 months. Of greater interest is the fact that Finnish higher education at all levels remains tuition free as long as you are enrolled in a degree program taught in Finnish or Swedish. I have long wondered how they planned to find the resources to invest in English-medium Master’s programs, one of the sector’s fastest-growing exports. This could be one, if not the, answer.

It is also extremely interesting to see how “Englishization,” long regarded as a literal and figurative cost to universities in non-English-speaking countries, may end up in this way being expensed back to the English-speaking world. While not exactly economic justice—international students study in the U.S. despite the cost, not because courses are in English, but because a U.S. degree is a global brand—it really says something that free post-secondary education is still regarded as a civic responsibility in the non-Anglophone world, one which you, too, may take advantage of if you are willing to learn a language other than English.

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