In Finnish universities, the inclusion of practical training into curricular studies in most subjects is voluntary. However, when studying medicine, practical training forms part of the education. In polytechnics, all degree studies include periods of practical training. If you are undertaking vocational training, a period of work based learning is compulsory. Of a total qualification of 120 credits, at least 20 credits must come from work based learning. In Finland, the under 25s who are unemployed and who have no vocational degree can familiarize themselves with the world of work through practical training.
If you are studying or have recently graduated, you might want to consider doing an internship in another country. In most cases, you will eligible for doing an internship in Finland if you can communicate fluently in English, you have completed at least the first year of your studies and your placement has something to do with the field that you are studying. Often, companies would like interns to have previous work experience, but the lack of it isn’t always an obstacle.
Usually, training placements in Finland are taken care of by EU programmes such as Erasmus (higher education) and Comenius (future school teachers), IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) and various student organizations. It is also possible to take care of the whole process independently. However, it is advised that a student makes contact with a student organization of his/her own field when looking at different placement options. Since all degree students who study in European universities that participate in the Erasmus programme are eligible for Erasmus traineeships to another country, it is no wonder that this is the most common way to study in Europe. An Erasmus traineeship can be hosted by research centres, universities, companies and other organizations. The good thing about Erasmus is that these traineeships will always be included as part of your studies. It is the student’s own responsibility to find a suitable placement and to apply for an Erasmus grant that will cover at least some of their expenses.
Some useful links:
- http://www.studyinfinland.fi/ [en]
- http://www.formin.fi/public/default.aspx?nodeid=15716&contentlan=2&culture=en-US [en]
Internship and placement advice
There are many practical issues related to international placements that need to be taken care of either by the trainee or the host company. It is important to set aside enough time for all the arrangements and the necessary formalities. Training organisations, educational institutes and home and host organisations will be able to help with the formalities.
Social security and European health insurance card
There are some insurances that you are advised to take out when staying in Finland. It is a good idea to find out before your arrival if you will need insurance. If you are coming from an EU/EEA country, you might not be obligated to get accident and health insurance but being insured is still highly recommended. For a foreign student, health, accident, travel and liability insurance are recommended.
Non – EU/EEA Students
If your studies last longer than three months and you need a residence permit, you will also need to be covered by health insurance. It makes no difference whether you are an exchange student or a degree student. However, if you are from Quebec, Canada, you do not need to worry about this. If you are a non-EU/EEA student staying in Finland for less than two years you are obligated to be covered by private health insurance that covers medical treatment costs of least 100 000 Euros. If you are staying in Finland for study purposes for longer than two years, you will only need insurance that covers medicines for up to 30 000 Euros since you will be entitled to receive local health care.
If you need insurance have a look at https://www.sipinsurance.eu/ [en]
EU/EEA or Switzerland Students
If you come from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you are entitled to medical treatment in Finland. You only have to present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and you will be entitled to receive medical treatment just as someone local would. Remember however, that your European Health Insurance Card will only cover urgent and/or necessary treatment. If you want to make sure you receive treatment on the same terms as locals, use public health care services. If you use private health care services, be prepared to pay the costs of your treatment yourself.
Do not be afraid to contact the police and other authorities in Finland, since Finland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
Do I need a visa?
If you need a visa, you will need to have found an internship and signed a contract with the company before you apply for a it. EU citizens and citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland do not need a visa in Finland.
Non – EU/EEA Citizens
If you intend to stay in Finland for longer than 90 days, you will need to get a residence permit. To qualify for a residence permit the purpose of your visit must be for study, employment, family ties or humanitarian or other exceptional reasons.
In most cases, your residence permit application has to be filed in your country of origin but in some cases, such as having family ties in Finland, filing the application is also possible with the Finnish police. You can submit your application at https://e-asiointi.migri.fi/ but you will still need to visit your local Finnish embassy or consulate to verify your application.
When applying for a student residence permit you will need to be able to show that you have at least 6000e per year at your disposal. Please understand that this is not a fee but it is more of a help to you in showing that you are in a financial position to maintain yourself during your stay in Finland.
EU/EEA or Switzerland Citizens
If you are coming to Finland from another Nordic country, you have no problems. If coming from the EU or Switzerland and Liechtenstein, you will not need to get a residence permit as these countries have comparable status with EU countries, but you will need to register your stay within three months from your arrival to Finland. You can register your stay at the district police department.
Internship and placement salary
There is no general rule that internships in Finland are remunerated, although it is quite common that a modest salary, enough to cover the student’s living costs, is paid. If the traineeship is part of a placement programme, then the students are often paid a wage or living allowance that not only covers their expenses but also leaves a little left over for exploring the new culture.
Internship and placement accommodation
The good news is that often placement organizers help students to find accommodation. Alternatively, the host organization might be responsible for arranging housing for students. You can also look at flats on the open market, but student housing will almost always prove to be the least expensive option. It is important to make sure that when looking for housing you first contact your host university or organization in Finland or the local student housing foundation to find out what they have to offer and how they can help. If you are happy living in a single room in a shared student flat, you should get by with paying about 160-340e a month.