Basic education is general education free of charge. Every child permanently residing in Finland is subject to compulsory education. Compulsory education begins the year a child turns seven years of age. However, it is also possible to start school one year earlier or postpone the starting by a year.
Ninth-graders completing comprehensive school must apply for a place in an upper secondary school, vocational school or preparatory education for the aforementioned institutions. Pupils in need for special support can apply for a place in special vocational education.
Compulsory education ends when a pupil turns 18 years of age or when they complete a degree in upper secondary institution (matriculation exam or a vocational degree).
Applying for education after comprehensive education happens via Opintopolku. It is intended for applicants who are completing or have completed comprehensive school and who have not completed a vocational qualification, upper secondary school syllabus or a higher education degree.
You can apply for the following degrees in the joint application system:
- vocational qualifications
- upper secondary school education
- TUVA preparatory education for upper secondary qualifications
- upper secondary qualifications organised on the basis of demanding special support
- TELMA preparatory education for work and independent living
- folk high school education for compulsory education pupils
Studying free of charge
Secondary education in Finland is free of charge. Pupils will receive the learning materials and tools needed from the school. In upper secondary school studies, pupils will also be loaned a computer to be used in their studies and the matriculation examinations.
Studies are free of charge until the end of the calendar year the student turns 20 years or when they have completed their degree.
The guardian must ensure that the pupil completes compulsory education. The guardian must monitor the pupil's possible absences and the progress of their studies.
School transportation subsidy
Eligibility for the school transport subsidy depends on the pupil's studies, the length of their way to school and the number of trips taken to school. Pupils entitled to free education receive a school transport subsidy in case the distance to school is at least 7 kilometers. Other pupils can receive the subsidy if the distance is at least 10 kilometers.
You can receive school transport subsidy even if you do not engage in daily commute to school. A pupil can receive the subsidy if they commute to school at least 10 days per month. Pupils are eligible for full support if they commute to school at minimum 15 days per month. If the number of school trip days eligible for the subsidy is 10–14 days per month, the amount of the subsidy will be lower.
The school transport subsidy must be applied each academic year.
Guidance and monitoring of compulsory education
The guardians, the educational institution and the municipality of residence must guide and monitor a pupil's completion of compulsory education.
The guardian's responsibility
The guardian or other legal representative of a pupil must ensure that they completes their compulsory education. If a guardian intentionally or due to gross negligence neglects the obligation, they may be sentenced to a fine.
The education provider or the municipality may also report negligence to the police. The education provider can submit a child welfare notification, on the basis of which the child welfare authorities will decide on necessary further measures.
The institution's responsibility
When a pupil begins their upper secondary education, the responsibility for guidance, support, monitoring and supervision is transferred to the education provider.
If a pupil wishes to change from one educational institution or study field to another, education providers must guide and support the pupil until they have started the new studies.
If necessary, the student will also be referred to services that provide them with support and help them continue their studies. These services may include, for example, social and healthcare services or youth services.
The municipality's responsibility
The municipality is responsible for guiding those within the scope of compulsory education who have been left without a study place in the joint application process. Municipalities will receive a notification submitted by the education provider of these pupils. They also must guide those young people who have suspended their upper secondary level studies and who do not have a study place.
In the City of Oulu, the responsibility of the municipality is handled by the compulsory education student councelor Pirjo Niittyviita who is open for meeting at Byström Ohjaamo on weekdays, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 050 316 6680.
Suspension of compulsory education for a fixed or indefinite period
Students within the scope of compulsory education have the right to suspend their compulsory education for a fixed period due to the following reasons:
- due to a long-term illness or disability preventing the completion of compulsory education
- for the duration of receiving pregnancy or parental allowance under the Health Insurance Act
- for a temporary stay abroad of a duration of at least one month, if the pupil participates in equivalent education abroad or otherwise continues compulsory education
- due to other notable reason related to a situation in life preventing the completion of compulsory education.
Compulsory education can also be suspended for an indefinite period if the reason referred to in the list above is of a permanent nature.
Pupils within the scope of compulsory education always have the right to study. The decision to discontinue compulsory education is made only by the request of the pupil or their guardian. Before making a suspension decision due to reasons in sections 1 or 4, it must be examined whether it is possible for the pupil to complete their compulsory education with the help of individual choices, individualisation, necessary support measures or some other customizations to education.
Applying for suspension of compulsory education:
- Via Wilma system, from the principal of the educational institution where the pupil studies if it is an educational institution of the City of Oulu. For pupils studying in other educational institutions, please contact your institution's the guidance counsellor or principal.
- Via the compulsory education student counsellor using the form below, if the pupil is not studying in any educational institution. The suspension decision is then made by the Director of Basic Education and Youth.
Returning the application
Return the application to the City of Oulu registry's office:
- by mail: Oulun kaupungin kirjaamo, PL 71, 90015 Oulun kaupunki
- via email: email@example.com