3 Pre-School EducationPre-school education is intended for six-year-olds, who will start their compulsory education in the following year.Participation in pre-school education is voluntary, and it is provided in day care centres and in pre-school classes operating in connection with comprehensive schools.In Finland, pre-school education means the systematic education and instruction provided in a day care centre (kindergarten) or a comprehensive school in the year preceding the beginning of school.Subject fields are: language and interaction, mathematics, ethics and philosophy, environmental and natural studies, health, physical and motor development and art and culture.
4 Basic EducationBasic education is intended for children from seven to sixteen years of age, and its completion in comprehensive school takes nine years.All children permanently resident in Finland are subject to compulsory education for a period of ten years starting in the year of their seventh birthday.Basic education is general education provided free of charge for entire age groups.Basic education is governed by the Basic Education Act of 1998The broad national objectives and the allocation of time to the instruction in different subjects and subject groups and to childrens counselling are decided by the Government. The National Board of Education decides on the objectives and core contents of instruction by confirming the core curriculum. Based on these, each provider of education prepares the local curriculum.The network of comprehensive schools covers the entire country.For school journeys exceeding five kilometres, transportation is provided free of charge.
5 Teaching groups in basic education are formed according to year classes. During the first six years, instruction is usually given by the class teacher, who teaches all or most subjects.Instruction in the three highest forms is usually in the form of subject teaching, where different subjects are taught by subject teachers.Basic education also includes pupil counselling and, if necessary, special education.The basic education syllabus includes at least the following subjects: mother tongue and literature (Finnish or Swedish), the other national language (Swedish or Finnish), foreign languages, environmental studies, civics, religion or ethics, history, social studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, physical education, music, visual arts, craft and home economics.
6 Features of basic education no admission requirementsno chargesa nine-year comprehensive schoolmay include voluntary one-year pre-school education and voluntary one-year additional education (10th form)instruction arranged in schools near the homeno official qualification; final certificate granted for acceptable completion of the syllabusprovides eligibility for all upper secondary educationalmost all Finnish children complete comprehensive schoolinterruption and repeating a form is rarecompulsory education is fulfilled by completing the basic education syllabus
7 General Upper Secondary education Upper secondary school offers general education for students of about years of age.It continues the educational task of comprehensive school and gives students eligibility for all studies at the tertiary level.Upper secondary school ends with the matriculation examination.Since 1982, instruction in upper secondary schools has been divided into courses, each consisting of about 38 lessons.The broad national objectives and the allocation of time to the instruction in different subjects and subject groups and to student counselling are decided by the Government. The National Board of Education decides on the objectives and core contents of instruction by confirming the core curriculum. Based on these, each provider of education prepares the local curriculum. The curriculum must provide students with individual choices concerning studies, also utilising the instruction offered by other education providers, if necessary..
8 The school year is usually divided into five or six periods The school year is usually divided into five or six periods. A separate timetable is drawn up for each period, concentrating on certain subjects.Students' progress and the composition of teaching groups thus depends on the students' choice of courses.Consequently, year classes have been abolished in all upper secondary schools, which now function without fixed forms Upper secondary school studies consist of compulsory, specialisation and applied courses.All students must complete the compulsory courses. Schools must provide specialisation courses for students to choose from.Each student is responsible for completing a sufficient number of courses. Applied courses may be either further studies in subjects already studied or other subjects.The provision of these courses can be decided independently by each school. They can also be offered in co-operation with other educational institutions, such as vocational or music institutions.
9 The matriculation examination concluding upper secondary school studies is drawn up nationally, and there is a centralised body to check its individual tests according to uniform criteria. There are four compulsory tests in the matriculation examination: mother tongue, the other national language, foreign language and either mathematics or general studies test. In addition, candidates may voluntarily take optional tests.Tests are arranged each spring and autumn, and candidates may complete the examination either entirely in one examination period or in parts within a maximum of three different examination periods.
10 Features of upper secondary school the admission requirement for the upper secondary school is the completion of comprehensive schoolupper secondary schools select their students mainly on the basis of previous study recordin practice application takes place through the national joint application procedureupper secondary school studies primarily aim at further studies at the tertiary levelprogress in studies is individualsyllabus planned for three yearspossible to finish in two years, maximum four yearsstudents usually years of ageupper secondary school instruction also provided for adults, adjusted to their circumstancesmore than half of each age group complete upper secondary school
11 Vocational EducationInitial vocational education builds on the basic education syllabus and provides 2-3-year instruction in almost all fields of working life. However, there is a decision to extend the duration of all initial vocational education to three years by the year 2001.Initial vocational education is also open to upper secondary school leavers. The duration of studies is year shorter for them, due to the credits transferred from upper secondary school studies.There are 75 initial vocational study programmes.These yield extensive basic vocational skills for various assignments in their field and, in addition, more specialised expertise in one sector of the study programme.A three-year vocational qualification provides general eligibility for higher education.
12 The Government decides on the general objectives of vocational education and training, the general structure of the study programmes and on the common studies.The Ministry of Education decides on the details and scope of the study programmes.The National Board of Education issues the national core curricula determining the objectives and core contents of the studies.Based on these, each provider of education prepares its curriculum.The Ministry of Education grants licences to organise vocational education, determining the education providers' fields of study and total number of students, etc.Within the framework of the licence and the confirmed structure of the study programmes, the education providers may focus their education as they see fit, allowing for the local and regional economic and working life needs.
13 Features of initial vocational education the admission requirement is the completion of the basic education syllabuseducation providers mainly select their students on the basis of previous study record, but they may also arrange entrance or aptitude tests and take the applicant's previous work experience into accountapplication for studies takes place through the national joint application procedurethe studies primarily aim at the acquisition of the vocational skills necessary in working life; in addition, the three-year programmes give general eligibility for further studies at universities and other institutions of higher educationopportunities for individual progress in the studies have been increasedinitial vocational qualifications can be taken in institutional education, as apprenticeship training or through competence-based examinationsdevelopment objectives: the proportion of training at workplaces will be increased in institutional education (on-the-job training periods to be attached to the programmes); apprenticeship training will be expanded; initial vocational programmes will include a practical demonstration to ensure that the objectives of vocational studies have been achievedinstruction is also offered to adults, adjusted to their circumstances (competence-based examinations: initial vocational qualifications, further and specialist vocational qualifications)
14 Polytechnic Education The Finnish polytechnic system was built during the 1990's to create a non-university sector in higher education. It is founded on the institutions which previously provided post-secondary vocational education and which have been developed to form a nationwide network of regional institutions of higher education, i.e. polytechnics. In the autumn of 2001, there were a total of 29 polytechnics.Polytechnics provide instruction for expert functions in the sectors of natural resources, technology and communications, business and administration, tourism, catering and institutional management, health care and social services, culture, and the humanities and education.Studies leading to a polytechnic degree take years.The Ministry of Education confirms the degree programmes, but the curricula are independently decided by the polytechnics.
15 Features of polytechnics the admission requirement is the completion of a vocational qualification or the matriculation examinationpolytechnics select their students independently; application takes place through the national joint application procedurepolytechnic studies lead to higher education degreesthe scope of education is years; students have the right to exceed this by one yearall degree programmes include an on-the-job training period of at least 20 credits (half the academic year)instruction is free of chargeeducation providers are municipal or private; the State does not maintain polytechnicsclose research and development co-operation with the regional working life
16 University EducationThere are twenty universities in Finland: ten multidisciplinary universities, three universities of technology, three schools of economics and business administration and four art academies. The network of universities covers the different parts of the country and provides a student place for almost one third of the age group. All universities are owned by the State. Academic degrees in the military field can be taken at the National Defence College falling under the administrative field of the Ministry of Defence.The decision-making system of the universities is highly independent. Their operation is prescribed by the Universities Act and Decree. Moreover, their activities are regulated by field-specific decrees on degree systems, governing the field-specific educational duties as well as the definitions, structures, scope, objective and contents of degrees. Universities and their faculties decide on the degree regulations and curricula.
17 Universities select their own students independently. Various types of entrance examinations form a central part of the selection process.The total intake of the universities guarantees a student place for about a third of the relevant age group.The number of university students has increased by some 40 % during the last ten years. In total, there are about 152,000 students.The number of postgraduate students is about 20,000.The annual number of degrees taken amounts to about 17,000, of which Master's degrees account for almost 12,000 and doctorates for more than 1,000.The average duration for completing a Master's degree is about 6.5 years.