Skip to content

Bildung Review compiles statistics and information from educational and cultural administration

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 3.5.2024 13.00
Press release

On 3 May, the Ministry of Education and Culture published the 2024 Bildung Review, which compiles statistical and other information on the administrative branch of the Ministry, its development and situation in international comparison. The themes for 2024 are regionality, life cycle and the fields of education and culture. The objective of the annually published review is to create an overall picture of the extensive administrative branch as a whole.

Regional differences in education and culture

There is strong regional variation in participation in educational and cultural services. Educational attainment and the use of educational and cultural services are differentiating regionally and at the level of smaller areas.

The differences in education vary within Finland. Educational attainment in Uusimaa is significantly higher than in the rest of the country. The proportion of the adult population that has completed only basic education (primary and lower upper secondary education) is about 25 per cent in the whole country and the differences between regions are reasonably small.

Regional differences in the proportion of population with a vocational education (upper secondary and specialist vocational level) are significantly greater than the differences between those with only basic education. The proportion of persons with a vocational education varies from 34 per cent in Southwest Finland to 45 per cent in Kainuu. The proportion in Uusimaa is 25 per cent.

The proportion of persons who have completed a higher education degree in the population aged over 15 years varies from approximately 40 per cent in Uusimaa to 26 per cent in Kainuu.

In international comparison, the areas in Finland are no longer among highly educated areas when compared with the European or OECD countries. The difference between Uusimaa and the capital regions of the Nordic, European and other developed countries is increasing.

There are differences linked with the regional distribution of the service provision in the cultural services used. Cultural interests focus mostly on going to the cinema and to museums. The proportion of people who have visited a museum or an art exhibition at least once a month is notably large in Helsinki compared with the rest of Uusimaa and especially with the other areas in Finland. 

Youth services concentrate strongly in municipalities with the largest number of young people. In 2022, the total number of personnel in youth work was approximately 3,100 person-years in the whole country, of which about 40 per cent were located in eight municipalities (Helsinki, Oulu, Vantaa, Espoo, Jyväskylä, Turku, Lahti and Tampere).

Education in the different stages of a person's life

There has been a strong increase in participation in early childhood education and care in the past quarter of a century especially in day-care centres.

The transition to comprehensive school still takes place mainly at the age of 7 years. Repeating a class is fairly rare in comprehensive school, especially in grades other than the first or last grades of comprehensive school. 

After comprehensive school, a majority of the age group continues to general upper secondary education. However, the popularity of vocational education and training increased at the beginning of the 21st century and the proportion of those who continue to vocational education and training is still high in a long-term examination. Completing general upper secondary education in three years has decreased starting from those students who began their general upper secondary education in 2016. Applying to higher education after completing general upper secondary education has become differentiated as a smaller proportion of those who have passed the matriculation examination apply to universities or universities of applied sciences than previously.

Completing a qualification in vocational upper secondary education has speeded up in the 21st century. A significant proportion of students complete a qualification in less than 2.5 years. This phenomenon is significantly explained by the abundance of multiple education, and the change is considerably smaller among the youngest students in vocational education.

The majority of students of universities of applied sciences are from younger age groups, but the proportion of students from older age groups has increased during the 21st century. Especially among women aged 21–23 years, participation in degree studies at universities of applied sciences has fallen to a lower level than previously.

Young age groups dominate in degree studies at universities (bachelor’s and master’s degrees). In 2022, the proportion of university education exceeded 20 per cent of the age group among persons aged 21–24 years but remained below 5 per cent in all age groups over the age of 31 years.

The number of Finnish postgraduate students in higher education institutions has declined by approximately 30 per cent (6,200 students) between 2005 and 2020. As a result of the decline in researcher training and the increase in the proportion of foreign students, the number of Finnish postgraduate students and scientific postgraduate degrees completed by Finns was at the lowest level since the 1990s at the beginning of the 2020s.

Participation in education and culture

There has been a decline in achieved learning outcomes in Finland in proportion to the general level in the OECD countries since 2009, and continuing between 2018 and 2022, when also the COVID-19 crisis led to weaker learning outcomes in many countries.

English has been by far the most popular foreign language in comprehensive school and almost the entire age group has studied it during the past half-a-century. Studying German and French became significantly more common in the 1990s, but their popularity remained temporary and declined clearly at the beginning of the 21st century.

The proportion of pupils participating in religious education according to the syllabus for the Evangelical Lutheran religion has declined rapidly from the 2010s and the share of ethics and Islam has increased. This is because the proportion of pupils belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church is declining and the proportion of pupils belonging to other religious communities or non-religious pupils is increasing.

The field of education structure is undergoing a transformation. The field of technology has been by far the largest field of education, but its relative position has now weakened and the number of working-age people with a qualification or degree in the field is on the decline. The fields of health and wellbeing are growing fast, and the fields of business and administration more slowly.

When examined by field of education, the education structure in Finland is very highly gendered. Extreme examples of differentiation are the field of technology, in which approximately 15 per cent of working-age people with a qualification or degree in the field have been men during the 21st century and the field of health and wellbeing, in which the proportion of women has been almost 90 per cent since 1970.

The discipline structure of universities has changed fairly slowly in the past 40 years. The field of engineering sciences has grown considerably and has become clearly the largest field. The fields with relatively the highest growth also include social sciences. The proportion of the fields of medicine, humanities and education in academic staff has been declining for a long time.

Within the fields of culture, economically the most significant ones that have undergone the greatest change are fields such as the printing industry, the press, advertising and the game industry, in which operation is largely based on market terms. Correspondingly, in the field of cultural professions, the greatest changes have been the strong decline in employment in the graphics industry and the growth of the professional groups in advertising.

Between 1995 and 2020, there has been a strong increase in employment in cultural professions as a whole, from approximately 57,000 to more than 80,000 employees.

Literature and international theatre and cinema are the fields of culture that the Bildung Review particularly focuses on. The number of titles in published literature has decreased in the 21st century. The proportion of fiction in published books has increased, and so has the proportion of history and biographies. In addition to general works, the strongest decrease has been seen in literature in the fields of politics, the economy, engineering sciences, law and public administration.

The English-speaking world dominates in translated theatre, translated literature and in the countries of origin of long films. The importance of other language regions and countries is significantly lower and reflects the wider societal development.

Bildung Review 2024

Inquiries: Aleksi Kalenius, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2953 30291

The next Bildung Review is due to be published in spring 2025 and its theme is information concerning the development of administration, legislation and funding.