Your education is not automatically null and void once you cross the border and apply for a lucrative job in a new country. On the contrary, a degree is and should be a valuable asset everywhere, but due to different education systems used in most countries, using a degree to your advantage in a foreign country can often require some additional hoops to get by. Here are some matters to consider when coming to Finland with a lofty degree not necessarily applicable to our education system and how to make it shine as a pivotal tool in your CV arsenal!
If you have a higher education degree and wish to apply for a duty requiring one, it may not be applicable in Finland until it is approved by the Finnish National Agency for Education (Opetushallitus). The Finnish National Agency for Education decides if a foreign degree is eligible for a duty requiring a higher education degree or some other education while also issuing statements of vocational examinations achieved abroad.
If you apply for a post or position in Finland with a higher education degree requirement of a certain level, you will need a decision on recognition of a higher education degree as comparable in terms of level to a degree completed in Finland. The degree obtained abroad needs to be completed in full and it must be part of the official system of higher education degrees that is in place in the country in question. The level of the degree is assessed on the ground of its extent, requirements, and orientation. A higher education degree completed abroad can be recognized as comparable in terms of level to a
- Bachelor’s degree completed at a university or a university of applied sciences
- Master’s degree completed at a university or a university of applied sciences
- postgraduate Licentiate degree or Doctoral degree completed in Finland
If you have completed a vocational qualification abroad, you can apply for an advisory statement from the Finnish National Agency for Education with an application for a fee. This statement describes the official status of the qualification and the awarding institution or body, the qualification’s level and extent, the professional rights conferred by the qualification in the country of origin, and the content of studies, provided that the qualification certificates contain such information. While the statement does not give eligibility for a profession or duty, it can be a great help when looking for a job.
Healthcare professionals (i.e. physicians, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists, nurses) are a special case, since those that have graduated in Finland or abroad need to apply for licencing, the right to practice their profession in Finland or right to use protected occupational title from Valvira, Finland’s National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health. Processing times for applications take from a minimum of 30 working days (students applying for a right to study) to 3–4 months (EU/EEA Member State persons with a completed training applying for the right to practise their profession). If you are outside the EU/EEA area, it takes at least 4 months. A fee is charged for every decision concerning professional rights.
As some degree programs have been harmonized or rendered equivalent within the European Union, your profession may be automatically recognized by Valvira. If a qualification is not recognized, Valvira will investigate whether the applicant’s training qualifies for the same profession as the relevant Finnish training, considering compensatory measures (proficiency test, adjustment period) for the decision. Valvira will also investigate training completed outside the EU/EEA and act accordingly. Healthcare professional must also have sufficient oral and written language proficiency for their duties. For healthcare professionals, more detailed information is available here: Professional practice rights – valvira englanti – Valvira.
Finally, here is a handy step-by-step service guide to help you on your way with your qualifications to be recognized:
Service guide for recognition of qualifications | Finnish National Agency for Education (oph.fi).
Text: Juha Kuosmanen