Start-up aims to attract 100,000 foreign students to Finland

A new start-up service named Finn-Ed Hub plans to entice 100,000 foreign students to Finland to study in three-year university programmes.

A new Finnish company, Finn-Ed Hub, intends to collect all of the country's universities into one online service that will encourage foreigners to come to Finland to study. The financial newspaper Kauppalehti reports on Tuesday that the start-up has a goal to attract 100,000 degree students to Finland.

The paper writes that Finn-Ed Hub will market Finnish higher education in Asia on social media channels. The plan is to advertise on the Chinese chat service WeChat, for example, which boasts 800 million users.

Finn-Ed Hub is managed by a firm called Study Advisory that was founded in 2015 and works out of Tampere and Hong Kong.

Peter Vesterbacka of Angry Birds gaming company Rovio fame has also agreed to be the start-up's advisor.

Vesterbacka has been a strong proponent of Finnish education, and supports several efforts to market it. He says that the potential money that huge numbers of foreign students could pay in study fees and living expenses would surpass the costs of running Finland's institutes of higher education every year.

Vesterbacka told the paper that Finn-Ed Hub will help to build the groundwork for future internationalisation.

"We need to boldly tell people what a great place Finland is, and make Finland the best place to study in the world," he said.
Application and visa processes should be easier

Tuomas Kauppinen, Finn-Ed hub board chair and one of the company's founders, says the application and visa processes for foreign students must also be made easier if the project is to succeed.

"The Finnish entrance exam system is unique in the world, and can be an obstacle for many," says Kauppinen. "The general application period is relatively early in the year, and the decision about whether a student has been granted a study place can take a really long time."

Kauppinen says that in some countries, the decision about which students are chosen is made in just a week. After this, the process to receive a visa is also much less rigorous and time-consuming than in Finland.

Kauppinen says he is confident that the relevant authorities will cooperate with the universities, and says Finn-Ed Hub hopes to attract 30,000 applicants to study in Finland as early as next year.