How to apply for international student exchange

You can take part in student exchanges through the Erasmus+ and Nordplus programmes or on the basis of a bilateral agreement between partner institutions. Additionally, all academies have individual partner institutions outside Europe.

Applying for a student exchange

Bachelor’s and master’s degree students and students in doctoral education at Uniarts Helsinki may apply for student exchange. However, doctoral students cannot apply for an exchange through the Nordplus programme or under some of the bilateral agreements.  

See the academies’ detailed instructions and schedules for applying for an exchange:

Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is a European Union programme with the goal of promoting international interaction, cooperation and mobility. Our university has more than a hundred partner institutions in the Erasmus programme. If you are interested in an exchange at a European higher education institution in the field of art that cannot be found on the list of agreement institutions, contact the international affairs personnel in your academy to determine whether an Erasmus agreement could be concluded with the institution in question.  

Nordplus

Nordplus is a programme under the Nordic Council of Ministers, which also includes the Baltic States. 

Student mobility is possible within the following networks:

  • Norteas (theatre and dance)
  • NCP (choreography)
  • KUNO (visual arts)
  • NordClassic (classical music)
  • NordPuls (jazz and world music)
  • NordTrad (folk music)
  • NordOpera

Exchange periods for one or two full academic terms are usually implemented with Erasmus programme funding, even in the case of Nordplus programme countries. 

Academies’ partner institutions

In addition to exchange programmes, the academies have bilateral cooperation agreements in Europe and beyond. The content of the agreements varies slightly, but all agreements contain an exemption from tuition fees for the target school, i.e., you will not be charged any tuition fees. 

Duration of student exchanges

Erasmus student exchanges last at least 2 months and at most 12 months. Usually, the exchange period is one or two full academic terms. The duration of the exchange period will always be confirmed on a case-by-case basis in the acceptance letter, and it will be determined by the academic terms of the target school. You may leave for an Erasmus exchange several times; at one degree level (bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral level), student exchanges may amount to a maximum of 12 months. Nordplus student exchanges may last 1 to 12 months. Under other agreements, the maximum period is usually one academic year as well. 

Exchange studies

Student exchange is part of the degree you pursue at Uniarts Helsinki, so the studies completed during the exchange will be included in your personal study plan (PSP).  The exchange year is not an additional study year, nor is it a way to extend your study period. The academic terms used for the exchange count as normative duration of your studies and the Sibelius Academy students’ entitlement to personal teaching of their major subject. The student must therefore discuss with their PSP coordinator the timing of their student exchange and the content of the studies to be completed during the exchange. You cannot submit an exchange application to the destination institution without the support of the party supervising studies at your home institution. 

A Learning Agreement will be concluded between the destination institution, the home institution and the student on their studies during the exchange. Courses to be completed in the destination institution will be recorded in the Learning Agreement, and this document must be signed before the start of the exchange period. You should study full-time, and the aim is to complete 30 ECTS credits during one academic term. All studies completed during the exchange will be recognised in your degree. The student must also register as an attending student at Uniarts Helsinki and pay the FSHS fee for the exchange period. 

Student exchange funding

Student exchanges are part of degree studies, meaning that you can receive student financial aid normally during the exchange. The number of credits required by Kela also apply to exchange studies.  You will receive an increased housing supplement and loan guarantee when studying abroad. 

For Kela, you must submit a notification of changes in circumstances directly in Kela’s online service. You don’t need a separate certificate for Kela, as Kela can check the start and end dates of the exchange electronically based on the data entered in the student register of Uniarts Helsinki.  

Every Uniarts Helsinki student accepted to Erasmus student exchange will receive a grant paid by Uniarts Helsinki. However, the grant does not cover all expenses, so you must acquire your own funding for living expenses.  The amount of the grant will be confirmed annually and calculated according to the duration of the exchange and the destination country.  

Erasmus+ grants for the academic year 2022–2023:

  • € 540/month and € 18/day for days exceeding full months for countries with higher living costs (Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom)
  • € 490/month and € 16.33/day for all other programme countries

When will the grant be paid?

The grant is usually paid in full before the start of the exchange period. Those leaving for student exchange fill in their grant applications and agreements in August.  

Support for Green Travel

As an Erasmus exchange student, you can receive Green Travel support for travel expenses if you travel to your destination in a low-emission mode of travel (e.g., train, bus, carpooling). The amount of support is € 50–100/exchange. Support must be applied for when signing the Erasmus grant agreement, and it cannot be received afterwards.

Additional grants

You may also receive additional Erasmus grants if you belong to one of the following categories: 

  1. Social obstacles:  
    • those with families (minor children as dependents) 
    • informal carers (agreement on informal care with a municipality) 
  2. Disabilities: 
    • students holding or entitled to an EU disability card 
    • persons with disabilities (at least moderate functional incapacity) 
  3. Health obstacles: 
    • those with severe and/or chronic health problems (at least moderate functional incapacity) 
  4. Immigrant background: 
    • students that have received international protection (refugees, asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international or subsidiary protection, or the student has a refugee travel document) 

The right to additional support will be verified with a signed declaration on honour. 

If you are leaving for a destination outside the Erasmus programme, contact the international affairs personnel in your academy for further information.  

Required language skills

In many countries, an art student can survive with a good command of the English language. However, in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Spain, for example, knowing the basics of the local language is very useful, if not necessary, in many practical situations. Those who have studied in these countries warmly recommend studying the language before leaving for an exchange.  

Some German schools may request a certificate of German language studies with the application. Our partner institutes in the United States and the United Kingdom may require a TOEFL, IELTS or other language test certificate, possibly already at the application stage. You should check whether you need a language certificate in advance either on the website of the university in question or from the international affairs personnel in your own academy.

Online language courses for Erasmus students

It is a good idea to invest in language studies already before the exchange and not to rely on the offer of language courses in the destination country. Language teaching offered to exchange students varies from country to country and from institution to institution. However, Erasmus students are offered online language courses that they can attend before leaving for a student exchange.

Language studies offered by Uniarts Helsinki

In addition to compulsory language studies, Uniarts Helsinki offers elective language studies. For example, you can study the basics of Italian or German, or activate your language skills with duo studies with a student partner who speaks another language. 

KIVANET language courses

Uniarts Helsinki students can also apply for KiVANET language courses. They have a diverse and broad selection of Finnish higher education institutions’ language studies that can be completed online. 

Housing, visa and residence permit

The exchange programmes oblige the hosting higher education institution to assist the student with finding an apartment. However, the housing situation in different countries and cities is very different, and assistance may just mean that the institution sends application instructions or links to websites to those accepted for the exchange. Despite the institutions’ obligation to assist, you are still responsible for your housing arrangements during the exchange. You should also ask those who have been in student exchange in the city about housing: They can give you good tips. You can ask international affairs personnel about the names and contact information of those who have been exchange students before you.

Registration of the right of residence in EU countries

 Students travelling to EU countries can register their right of residence in the destination country upon arrival. You should make an EU registration if you stay in the country continuously for more than 3 months. The Nordic countries are an exception.

Students who have a student residence permit issued by an EU country must submit a mobility notification to another EU country. 

Registration of the right of residence outside the EU

Non-EU countries usually require a visa or residence permit, which you must obtain before departure from the embassy or consulate of that country. You should start the application process as soon as possible. You must prove that you have sufficient assets to get a residence permit, for example with a Bank Letter or an account statement, Kela’s certificate on student financial aid or some other certificate on a grant. In most cases, you will also need a certificate of validity of an insurance that meets certain criteria. You can get more detailed instructions from the destination institution during the application process. 

Citizens of an EU country are entitled to the same healthcare in another EU country as residents of that country if they carry a European Health Insurance Card.

Taking out insurance

For information on the practices in different countries, contact Kela’s Centre for International Affairs or the missions of the country before going abroad. We recommend everyone leaving for a student exchange to take out a private insurance! 

Travel insurance and travel notification

Degree students and exchange students who have registered as attending are entitled to continuous travel insurance on domestic and international trips of less than 6 months that are included in the curriculum. The insurance is valid 24 hours a day during travel. 

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland recommends submitting a travel notification to all independent travellers.

Further information

If you encounter problems during the exchange, don’t hesitate to contact both the host institution and your own academy.