“It Felt Completely Natural to Apply to Sweden”

“It Felt Completely Natural to Apply to Sweden”

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The law program at Lund University has traditionally attracted mostly Swedish students. But now, interest in the program is increasing among the Swedish-speaking Finns. One important reason is the tough admission process at Finnish Universities.

When Beatrice Suomela from Österbotten was about to apply to a university the choice was the law program at the University of Helsinki. However, concurrence for spots were tough and despite having good grades she was not accepted. The reason was that she had not scored high enough on the entrance exam, which is an important part of being accepted into the University.

“I had never studied law before, and unfortunately I didn’t take the entrance exam seriously enough, because it’s really tough. When you’ve just finished your high school finals your motivation sadly isn’t on top to just sit down and study for entrance exams”, Beatrice Suomela says.

Luckily she had also applied to the law program in Sweden, and here things went easier. She was admitted to Lund University directly by the grades from her Swedish-speaking high school. The decision to apply for Sweden felt natural, almost obvious.

“The admission process is smooth. You know the language. We have grown up with Swedish pop culture and the society is similar to Finland. I have relatives here, and friends who are studying in, for example, Umeå. Besides, Sweden is attractive because it’s a bit bigger, cooler and more developed. There are other opportunities and a bigger selection of both studies and work here”, Beatrice Suomela says.

Oliver Meriläinen from Helsinki talks about similar experiences. He took the law program entrance exam in Helsinki three times without getting admitted. Despite taking an expensive “prep course” that was supposed to prepare students for the test. Now he has opted for studying to become a lawyer in Lund instead.

Increased interest from Finland
The law program is given in Swedish and primarily covers Swedish rights and conditions. This is why it traditionally hasn’t been an obvious choice for international students. According to student counselling at the Faculty of Law the only group outside of Sweden interested in the program are Finns. A growing interest to boot.

“I have experienced an increase and assumed it’s because of Finland’s new rules regarding financial aid for students. But I’m not sure if that assumption is correct”, Student Counsellor Lina Jönsson states in an e-mail.

However, the Finnish students Lundagård has been in contact with says that the possibilities to receive financial aid are basically the same in Sweden and in Finland.

The overall interest among Finns to study in Sweden has been big for a long time, especially for people with limited knowledge in Finnish. The medical program has been a popular choice in many cases. The fact that students have been attracted to the law program as well depends on, among other things, the decrease of available spots in Finland.

“Finland’s economy is strained and the number of study spots is adapted according to the needs of the job market. When the number of spots decreases concurrence increases”, Beatrice Suomela says.

May need to complement
Finnish students studying law in Sweden are not automatically authorized to work as lawyers in Finland after graduation. In order to get a job, that would normally need a Finnish Master of Laws, a decision from the Finnish Board of Education stating that the applicant’s foreign degree is equal to a Finnish degree is needed.

To be deemed equal the Swedish degree must be judged to be equivalent of a Finnish degree in terms of extent, requirement level and focus. Otherwise, the student may have to complement with up to 100 credits in Finland. The processing time for an application is estimated to be three to four months.

Lundagård has been in contact with the Board of Education regarding how a degree from Lund University would be assessed, but the authority says that a collected assessment must be made on an individual level.

“From what I’ve heard you have to do a couple of minor complements, including a language test. But I definitely hope I can work in Finland in the future”; Beatrice Suomela says.

For those who decide to stay in Sweden after graduating, applying for Swedish citizenship may become necessary, at least if you want to join the Swedish Bar Association or work within the court system.

However, Nordic citizens without a criminal record or debts at the Swedish Enforcement Authority have the possibility to become Swedish citizens after spending only two years in Sweden.

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