Universities criticise red tape for foreign students

Foreign university applicants are hampered by a slow and complicated process of granting residence permits, according to a survey in which many Finnish universities and higher education institutions criticised what they see as needless bureaucracy associated with Finnish immigration policy, reports Yle.

The institutions participating in the Yle survey said it is hard to boost the number of foreign students coming and applying for permits if potential students have to wait months for permission to stay in the country. Yle interviewed representatives from 18 universities of applied sciences and eight universities and found that the clear majority would like to see more fluid and speedy residence permit processing in Finland. Only three of the 26 felt the current system functioned well.

Higher education has been touted as having the potential to be a money spinner for Finland as tuition fees of up to €18,000 (US$20,200) per academic year have been required since 2016 for students originating from outside the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Universities say the weakest link in the chain are Finland's embassies and consulates, as a lack of resources makes it difficult for applicants to university programmes to identify themselves to the Finnish mission authorities. Biometric identification is now a prerequisite for the residence permit application process to start.
Full report on the Yle site