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Finland was a province and then a grand duchy under Sweden from the 12th to the 19th centuries and an autonomous grand duchy of Russia after 1809. It won its complete independence in 1917. During World War II, it was able to successfully defend its freedom and resist invasions by the Soviet Union - albeit with some loss of territory. In the subsequent half century, the Finns made a remarkable transformation from a farm/forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy; per capita income is now on par with Western Europe. As a member of the European Union, Finland was the only Nordic state to join the euro system at its initiation in January 1999.
Higher education system consists of universities and polytechnics. The Finnish higher education system is made up of two parallel sectors: universities and polytechnics. The universities rely on the connection between research and teaching. Their basic purpose is to perform scientific research and to provide higher education connected with it. Students at universities may take a lower (Bachelor's) or higher (Master's) academic degree and also academic further education, consisting of licentiate and doctoral degree. Universities also arrange further education and open university teaching.
The polytechnics are usually regional higher education institutions which provide instruction in subjects from several sectors, and which emphasize a connection with working life. The degrees they provide are higher education degrees with a professional emphasis. There are universities and polytechnics all over Finland, and the ultimate aim is to ensure that all prospective students have equal opportunities for study, regardless of where they live.
In 2000, there were about 150,000 degree students at Finnish universities, including about 3,700 foreign students. The network of Finnish universities covers the entire country, even Lapland. Finland has 10 multidisciplinary universities, 3 technical universities, 3 schools of economics and business administration and 4 arts universities. In addition to these, there is the National Defence College, which lies outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and provides higher education in the military and defence sector.
Canada boasts a wide range of quality educational institutions for both degrees and diplomas in technical and professional disciplines. Over 106,000 international students attend Canadian colleges and universities. This means that you can meet people from around the world as well as people from your own country.
In 2005, some 9 000 foreign students representing more than 40 nationalities were studying for a degree in Finland, and of them approximately 4 500 were enrolled in universities. In addition, approximately 7 700 other students come to Finland every year either on exchange programmes or independently.
Moreover, Finnish universities and polytechnics have also laid emphasis on imparting education in English. This has been one of the major reasons why international students have increasingly preferred the country for higher studies. Besides, the natural splendor of the country has attracted many students from overseas.
Finland offers leading education in various fields of study such as information technology, biotechnology, environmental sciences, architecture, music, art, and design. Nevertheless, educational opportunities are not limited in the country. The quality of education in the country is quite impressive and the cost of education is low. Universities and polytechnics present in the country normally do not charge any fee as the Ministry of Education funds higher education at the university level. The Ministry of Education is also responsible for ensuring the quality of educational system in Finland. Of late, the number of students coming to the country under the exchange programme has also increased manifold.
In 2005, the degree structure of Finnish universities was amended to become more compatible internationally. All programmes are based on a joint European credit transfer system (ECTS), which facilitates international transparency and recognition of Finnish degrees at a global level.
As the network of Finnish universities and polytechnics covers the whole country, students can choose among very different study environments: there are large urban campuses and quieter, close-to-nature campuses. Thanks to the quality assurance system, the quality of universities’ infrastructures, student services, and teaching and research is high irrespective of location.
All, institutions of higher education in the country have state-of-the-art facilities and have proven expertise in many fields. The polytechnics and universities of applied sciences present here lay special emphasis on close cooperation with business, industry and services.