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Extension of compulsory education

The compulsory education will be extended in 2021 so that from now on, all ninth-graders have to apply to upper secondary education. The aim of the reform is to secure all young people with the education and skills that they need in their lives in the future.

Compulsory education ends when the student turns 18 or when student graduates from upper secondary level before the age of 18.

The extension of compulsory education is also a promise of free upper secondary education. Free upper secondary education ends when the student turns 20, or when a student graduates from upper secondary level.

Why is the compulsory education extended?

By extending the compulsory education age, all young people will get the education and the skills that you need in the working life in the future. The purpose of this reform is to increase education and competence at all levels of education, to reduce the differences in learning results, and to increase educational equality and the well-being of all young people.

The aim is that every young person completes secondary education, which means graduating from general upper secondary school or from a vocational institution. 

Where can I get help in choosing a study place?

You should apply for upper secondary education in the joint application that takes place every spring. Your own school’s guidance counsellor will give you guidance and tutors you about the different study options.

Learn more about the options that the City of Helsinki has to offer in upper secondary education on the General Upper Secondary studies page and on Stadin AO’s website for vocational studies.

What if I don’t get a study place?

The aim is that every young person will be secured a suitable place to study. It is the basic education provider’s responsibility to oversee and guide the admissions. If a you do not get a place in the joint application in the spring, the comprehensive school’s guidance counsellor guides you until also during the summer, or until you manage to secure a study place. If you have not found a study place by autumn, please contact Ohjaamo Helsinki for guidance.

Compulsory education studies can be completed in the transition phase between basic education and secondary education. The transition phase means a point or phase where you move on from the ninth grade to the next level of the school system. The currently available transition phase study programmes are Voluntary additional basic education (also known as the 10th grade), Preparatory training for general upper secondary education (LUVA), and Preparatory education for vocational training (VALMA).

Apply to these programmes via  All eligible applicants will be admitted to the voluntary additional basic education (10th grade) programme. Applications to VALMA are accepted on a monthly basis. Learn more about applying to VALMA in Finnish.

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Free of charge upper secondary education

As the compulsory education will be extended, all students will get their upper secondary education free of charge. Free of charge upper secondary education continues beyond the compulsory school age of 18; a student can get free of charge education until a student turns 20.

What will be covered free of charge?

Following will be free of charge to all upper secondary students:

  • instruction
  • daily school meal
  • textbooks and other learning materials required in instruction
  • equipment, outfits and other materials required in instruction
  • a computer
  • the 5 tests required for completing the matriculation examination at the end of the general upper secondary syllabus and, in the case of these tests, retake of failed tests
  • school journeys of seven kilometres or more (via Kela’s school transport subsidy)
  • in some special cases, accommodation and travel expenses.

What will not be covered?

In education programmes where personal equipment, such as musical instruments and sports equipment are used, and which are also used by the students outside instruction, the expenses are still incurred by the student.

Compulsory education students may be charged fees for voluntary study trips and other similar activities supplementing studies.

  • Fees can only be charged for activities that are voluntary for the student. Therefore, n free of charge option must always be available to complete the course or study period of the degree in question. 
  • The education provider must always offer a free pf charge option. In order to ensure equality, the free of charge option must not be more laborious or otherwise more difficult to complete than the paid option available. 
  • The education provider may, for example, offer applied special courses or courses, which could include fees for non-teaching-related costs.

Learn more about the extension of compulsory education

17.09.2021 10:06