Going abroad independently (as a free mover/visiting student)

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This article concerns all degree students regardless of whether they are studying in the new degree programmes or according to the old degree structures. 

If you are going abroad without it being based on an exchange agreement, you are going abroad as a free mover or as a visiting student. Free movers and visiting students are responsible for paying for the host university's possible tuition fee themselves. You can apply for a small free mover grant from UH's International Exchange Services if you meet the grant criteria. The free mover grant does not cover all the expenses of your exchange.

On this page, you can find instructions regarding what students going abroad independently as free movers or visiting students need to take care of before going abroad. In addition to students going abroad independently, these instructions are also meant for students whose exchange is not based on an exchange programme coordinated by UH's International Exchange Services. Even if you don't apply for a free mover grant, you can get a certificate from the International Exchange Services about your study period abroad being a part of your degree. Instructions for that are available on this page. 

Do this

  • Apply to a university of your choice following its application instructions and by its application deadline. You can find the application instructions for free movers on the host university’s website (look for the words ‘free movers’, ‘visiting students’, ‘guest students’ or ‘non-degree students’). If you have questions, please contact the university to which you wish to apply, typically the international affairs unit or the admissions unit. 
  • Check your degree requirements before you apply to confirm that the studies completed abroad can be included in your degree at the University of Helsinki. For this purpose, you should draw up a tentative learning agreement (i.e., a study plan) for the studies you intend to complete during your exchange and for the credits which you wish to transfer to the University of Helsinki. You can get a certificate from the International Exchange Services about your study period abroad being a part of your degree when you have followed the instructions on this page.
  • If you are entitled to apply for a free mover grant, you should apply for it at least six weeks before the beginning of your exchange. More information is available below.
  • Register as an attending student at the University of Helsinki for the duration of your free mover studies. You must be registered as attending also at the time of the grant application for technical reasons.
  • Submit to Kela a notice of change concerning student financial aid. More information about Kela's study grant is available on Kela's webpage. You will need a certificate about your study period abroad being a part of your degree from UH's International Exchange Services for your study grant application. 
  • Read Kela’s instructions on moving abroad, and acquire a European Health Insurance Card if your destination is in the EU/EEA or Switzerland. Purchase comprehensive insurance cover if you are going outside EU/EEA.
  • Read the instructions of the local register offices  on moving outside Finland.
  • Read the instructions concerning crisis situations provided by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

For a free mover grant applicant

Grant amount

The free mover grant is intended for students who make their own arrangements for an exchange outside Finland. Credits from the study abroad period must be transferred to the applicant's degree at the University of Helsinki.

Destination Grant amount (one-time payment)
Europe and Russia €300
Other countries €900

Eligibility for applicant

In all programmes coordinated by the International Exchange Services, the same eligibility criteria is used. You can find the criteria on the Application process page.

Criteria for the exchange period

  • You have submitted an application, together with the required attachments, to the International Exchange Services at least six weeks before the beginning of your free mover studies outside Finland. The grant cannot be awarded retroactively.
  • The studies outside Finland must be temporary and last from a minimum of three to a maximum of 12 months.
  • You have made the arrangements for free mover studies on your own and will be registered as a student during the free mover period both at the target university and as an attending student at the University of Helsinki.
  • The target university must be a generally recognised and accepted university which provides university-level academic teaching. International Exchange Services can decide not to award you a grant if the target university does not meet these criteria.
  • The studies completed outside Finland can be incorporated in full into your degree at the University of Helsinki and must fit into your degree. You must complete at least five credits per month at the destination. The studies must be taught in the form of courses and you must complete them at the destination.
  • You will not receive an other mobility grant for your studies from the Erasmus, Nordplus or other exchange programmes at the University of Helsinki.
  • A grant cannot be awarded to a student who continues to study at the target university after regular student exchange (either immediately after the exchange or at a later date). In other words, this grant cannot be used to extend the period of a student exchange.
  • If you have previously participated in an exchange, International Exchange Services can decide on a case-by-case basis not to award you a grant.
  • A grant cannot be awarded for the sole purpose of a traineeship or a compulsory period of language training.
  • The University of Helsinki can recover the grant if, after it was awarded, the applicant is found to have provided erroneous or misleading information when applying for the grant.
  • If necessary, International Exchange Services can suspend the awarding of grants for budget reasons.
  • Free mover grants cannot be awarded for students who go abroad via commercial organisations.

Free mover grant application instructions

There is a rolling application process with no specific deadlines. You can see the application period here. Applications must be submitted and attachments uploaded through the Mobility Online portal at least 6 weeks before the beginning of the period of study abroad. The grant cannot be awarded retroactively. You can apply for the grant when you have received an acceptance letter from your host university.

The free mover grant application is submitted on Mobility Online, and it must include certain attachments. These are the learning agreement, letter of motivation, copy of the host university’s acceptance letter and a transcript of studies from the University of Helsinki.

How to apply:

1) Complete an electronic Mobility Online application.

  • NB! First click on ISEP, NORDLYS, NORTH2NORTH, ERASMUS (SMP), VISITING STUDENTS AND FREE MOVER APPLICATIONS on top of the application form.

    • Select Free mover scholarship.
    • Log in with your University of Helsinki username and password.
    • Complete the missing information and click on Send application.

2) The electronic form is divided into two parts: you must first register as an applicant, after which you are emailed a link to finish your application.

3) Complete your learning agreement (i.e., a study plan) on Mobility Online.

  • Your learning agreement proves that the studies you have planned for your exchange constitute a part of your degree at the University of Helsinki. The studies completed during your exchange must be included in your degree at UH and cannot unreasonably expand the normal scope of the degree.
  • Your learning agreement must specify the title and scope of each course, and how the credits for each course will be transferred to your degree at UH.
  • The learning agreement does not need to be signed. International Exchange Services will check your study plans.
  • Click on Print Learning Agreement, save the PDF and upload it as an attachment to your application.
  • For more information on the learning agreement and credit transfer, please click here and see the section Required attachments.

4) Write a motivation letter

  • You can write the motivation letter (max. 400 words) in Finnish, Swedish or English.
  • For more information on the motivation letter, please click here and see the section Required attachments.

5) Transcript of studies

  • You can obtain a transcript from WebOodi. Save it on your computer and then upload it (Upload documents) to Mobility Online.

6) Take a copy of the host university’s letter of acceptance; and upload it (Upload documents) to Mobility Online.

 

All attachments are upload to Mobility Online by choosing "upload documents".

 

Grant payment

  •  Awarded grants are paid on the last day of the month. If you submitted your application just before going abroad, it is likely that the payment will be made on the last day of the following month. The grant cannot be awarded retroactively after your exchange has ended.

Going abroad with other funding

If you are going abroad as a part of your degree either for a a study period or an intensive course, but do not receive any funding for it from UH's International Exchange Services, follow these instructions when you have received an acceptance letter from your host university. :

1) Complete an electronic Mobility Online application by choosing Tailor made programmes on the top of the application form. Log in using your UH user permit and check that the exchange programme is listed as Tailor-made programmes. Fill in the missing data and choose Send application.

The application form includes a question about the studies you will complete abroad. List the courses you will take at the host university, how many credits they are, which language you will use for your studies, and how the credits will be transferred to your degree at UH.

2) The electronic form is divided into two parts: you must first register as an applicant, after which you are emailed a link to finish your application.

3) Upload two attachments: your transcript from the University of Helsinki and the acceptance letter from your host university.

Attachments are uploaded by choosing ”Upload documents”.

 

When your application has been reviewed, you will receive an e-mail from studentexchange@helsinki.fi. The e-mail will include a Certificate of Stay Abroad as an attachment. You can use it when you apply for Kela's study grant for studying abroad. The e-mail will also include instructions about practical issues related to going abroad.

Returning home

  • Before your return, ask your host university for a transcript of studies (also known as a transcript of records)
  • Transfer the credits to your degree at the University of Helsinki
  • Notify Kela about moving back to Finland.
  • If you did not receive a free mover grant, you do not need to notify International Exchange Services of your return.
  • If you received a free mover grant, return a copy of your host university's transcript to the International Exchange Services and complete the feedback form available on Mobility Online.