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In Finland, each child has the right to attend preschool for one year in the year prior to starting basic education, which happens at the age of six or seven.

Education is compulsory for children residing permanently in Finland. Comprehensive school begins when the child turns seven. Children have the right to attend school and they are eligible for free basic education. Study materials, school meals and school healthcare are also free. In Finland, comprehensive schooling lasts nine years.

After comprehensive school, an application for secondary education may be made to an upper secondary school or vocational institute. General upper secondary education institutes do not collect school fees. Students are given a free school meal on school days. However, they must acquire textbooks and other study materials themselves.

Instead of going to a general upper secondary education institute, young people can opt for vocational education and training. Vocational education is provided in vocational upper secondary education and training institutes.

Students can apply to university after they have completed the matriculation examination or have a three-year vocational qualification. Students can apply to polytechnics once they have completed general upper secondary school or have a vocational upper secondary qualification.

Education provided by the City

A total of 26,000 pupils and students attend schools and educational institutes run by the City of Oulu Department of Education. There are about 20,000 pupils in basic education, of which 6,000 are in grades seven to nine. City-run general upper secondary schools for young people have 4,000 students and general upper secondary schools for adults have 1,600 students.

The City of Oulu Department of Education also runs the Oulu International School, which caters for grades one to nine; the teaching language is English. The International Baccalaureate Diploma programme in Oulun Lyseo Upper Secondary School provides general upper secondary education in English.

Oulu-opisto provides all-round education for adults. About 6,500 students study at Oulu-opisto each year. Oulu Conservatoire offers music training for about 900 students. Oulu Art school provides arts education for about 950 children and young people aged four to 20 years.

Oulu also has a state-owned Oulun normaalikoulu and privately-owned Svenska Privatskolan i Uleåborg, Oulun steinerkoulu and Oulun kristillinen koulu, all of which provide both basic and general upper secondary education.