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Finnish universities excel in global ranking of subjects

Several disciplines at Tampere University featured in this year’s ranking.

Tampere University

Finnish universities featuring prominently in the annual QS World University Rankings by Subject highlights the country’s expanded global approach to higher education.

Altogether, the QS subject rankingslooked at approximately 1 600 universities across 54 disciplines within five broad subject areas: arts and humanities, engineering and technology, life sciences and medicine, natural sciences, and social sciences and management. Five criteria were used in the assessment: academic reputation, employer of young graduates, reputation, research citation by paper and international research network.

This year saw subjects from six Finnish universities ranked in the top 50 in their respective fields. Of these, Aalto University’s art and design discipline was the top-ranking Finnish entrant, coming in at sixth worldwide. Meanwhile, the university was listed 48th in architecture and built environment.

“This is the best that a Finnish university has done in the QS field-specific rankings so far,” Auvinen said.

“Research and education in art and design can provide new answers to and perspectives on the world’s many challenges,” said Tuomas Auvinen, dean of Aalto’s School of Art, Design and Architecture. “It’s exciting to be recognised among the very best in the world in this area. This is the best that a Finnish university has done in the QS field-specific rankings so far.”

A worldy perspective

The global recognition is fitting for Aalto University, as it, like many Finnish universities, continues to actively cultivate an international academic environment. Indeed, there are over 2 000 international students enrolled at the university and just under half of its faculty is from abroad.

“Aalto also has a great network with many other universities all over the world,” said Yuexin Du (Yoshi), an Aalto alumnus originally from China, in an interview with Good News from Finland. “It’s not hard to find a study project that collaborates with other universities; most of them are really well known worldwide, such as Stanford.”

The professors and international students from Aalto University whom Yoshi met back when she lived in China made such a significant impression on her that she decided to study in Finland.

Miko Marjakangas

“In addition, most studies and courses involve teamwork and the students are from different backgrounds, so it’s a very good way to learn different cultures and build up connections in different industries,” she added.

Further academic pursuits

After ranking 106th overall in the QS World University Rankings 2023, the Finnish capital’s University of Helsinki was recognised in the subject-specific rankings for its theology, divinity and religious studies (22nd); education and training (24th); agriculture and forestry (34th); and communication and media studies (44th).

Elsewhere, Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki featured in 25th place for performing arts and the University of Jyväskylä 31st for sports-related subjects. The University of Turku was ranked 45th in nursing studies.

Lais first came to Finland in 2016 to complete a master’s degree in primary education in the eastern city of Joensuu.

Elsewhere on the rankings, Tampere University's library and information management studies was deemed the 18th best in the world. Similarly to many Finnish universities, Tampere University had numerous other disciplines featured outside the top 50 of the rankings.

The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) was also one such university, with its nursing studies ranked in the top 100, and agriculture and forestry in the top 200.

“Finland’s approach to education is different to other places I have lived in because, as in working life, students are individually respected, and they can go at their own pace to develop their work and deliver the results,” said Lais Oliveira Leite, a Brazilian who studied primary education at UEF and made her home in Finland after graduation, in a 2021 interview. “There is so much more autonomy and shared responsibility in decision making because people who are collaborating and working together respect each other and trust that we will do what we are supposed to do. This works so well for me!”

By: James O’Sullivan