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Helsinki for students

Home to two universities ranked among the world’s top 150, Finland’s harbor-based capital city is known for its attractive architecture, high quality of life, and for managing to be both laid-back and forward-looking at the same time.

It’s no surprise to see Helsinki getting a particularly high score in the desirability indicator of the QS Best Student Cities ranking. It’s also one of the world’s cleanest capitals according to Numbeo’s Pollution Index.

Would Helsinki get your vote? Tell us why.

Best universities in Helsinki - QS Best Student Cities ranking: 56th

More about Helsinki

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, 
view the methodology.

Why study in Helsinki?

Great food

Helsinki’s food is made using local ingredients and fresh fish, making it unlike anything you’ve tasted before. In the summer, the city’s parks are filled with food markets, alongside Helsinki’s many bars, cafes and restaurants. In the winter months holiday markets fill the city. 

Great universities

The city is home to two world renowned universities: University of Helsinki and Aalto University, which both rank in the top 150 in the world this year.

It’s well connected

Although the city is located on the edge of Europe, Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL) airport has connections to over 170 destinations around the world. Public transport in Helsinki is also great, with trains, buses, ferries, trams and the metro to get you where you want to go. 

High quality of life

Helsinki is frequently ranked highly amongst the best cities for quality of life and ranks 20th in the desirability indicator this year.

Need more convincing? Here are six more reasons to study abroad in Helsinki. 

Low tuition fee costs

Higher education in Finland is free to those in the EU/EEA but students from outside this area have to pay around US$1,600 per year. This, however, is a lot lower than international tuition fees in other European cities.

Cost of living in Helsinki

Given the Nordic region’s reputation for high living costs, it may be more surprising to find that Helsinki also scores relatively well for affordability, ranking 61st in the world in the affordability indicator this year.

This is largely due to the fact that in Finland higher education is currently free, although non-EU/EEA students must now pay a minimum of 1,500 euros (~US$1,600) a year.

Numbeo estimates a one-bedroom apartment in Helsinki’s city center costing around US$1,195 per month on average and advises students to save around US$965 each month for additional living costs.

Life and culture in Helsinki

Helsinki is a city surrounded by nature. In the summer you can take a boat to visit the archipelago’s islands, stroll through the city’s numerous parks and gardens and relax in the sun on one of its beaches. When the temperature drops in the winter you can instead enjoy skiing, ice fishing and ice skating on the frozen lakes.

The city isn’t short on indoor attractions either. Helsinki is home to plenty of boutiques and galleries full of glassware, textiles, lighting and other homewares. You can take a look at how they’re made in the city’s design museum. Culture seekers should visit Helsinki’s Kiasma museum of temporary art, the concert hall Musiikkitalo and the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

For dinner, try the delicious Nordic cuisine including karelian pies, Näkkileipä bread and Grillimakkara sausages.  

Career in Helsinki

Alongside its high score in desirability, Helsinki also performs well in the employer reputation indicator, ranking 69th this year. There are plenty of jobs available for those wanting to stay in Helsinki after graduation, particularly in engineering, IT and electronics.

If you’re from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland you won’t need a residence permit to live and work in the city. However, if you’re from a country outside the EU/EEA, you’ll need to obtain a residence permit to stay after graduation.

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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