15 tips for making and saving money as an international student in Tampere

As a rule, international students should have adequate means of support upon their arrival in Finland. The Finnish Immigration Service has estimated the income requirement to be €560 per month or €6,720 per year. Living in Finland is relatively expensive to many foreigners. Student financial aid can be granted to international students who are registered as permanent residents of Finland in the population register system and whose purpose for residence in Finland is something other than education (for example, work, family ties or return migration). It is possible for foreign students to apply for financial aid from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) provided “you have arrived in Finland for some other reason than to study. Such a reason can for example be employment, family ties or return migration.” Alternatively, “if you are a citizen of another EU or EEA or of Switzerland, you can get financial aid even if you have come to Finland to study. This requires that you are employed in Finland for at least 4 months with an average of at least 18 hours of work per week”. However, the application can be a long process. The majority of those coming to study in Finland are not entitled to student financial aid.

There are different kinds of foundations and funds in Finland that allocate grants and scholarships to students. However, these scholarships are usually only small monetary compensations not covering all living expenses. Especially doctoral students can benefit from scholarships as they are seldom granted to Bachelor’s or Master’s students.

An increasing number of international students are willing to work while studying, especially because not everybody has parents who are able to support them financially. International students often ask about work opportunities in Finland. Those coming from the EU/EEA countries and Switzerland do not need a work permit if their work period lasts less than three months. After that, they must register their right to stay in Finland, but they do not need a special residence nor a work permit. Those coming from outside the EU/EEA countries and have been granted a residence permit on the basis of studying are allowed to work an average of 25 hours weekly during study terms if the employment is part of their studies (practical training or diploma work). The number of working hours is not restricted during holiday seasons. The Finnish labour legislation applies to everyone working in Finland, regardless of their nationality. Likewise, all employers are obliged to pay employment pension contributions as well as social security, unemployment security, and accident insurance contributions for foreign employees as well. Foreign nationals must also acquire a tax card from the Tax Office. In order to get one, they need a personal identity code, which can be received by registering with the Local Register Office.

Unfortunately, finding a job might be difficult since many employers demand employees to speak fluent Finnish. However, some international students have found a job in delivering mail and doing software testing, for example. In addition, Tamy’s Specialist in International Affairs sends information about available jobs to the IS-list.

I have previously written about job opportunities for international students in Tampere. However, it can be challenging to find work as a foreigner depending on your Finnish language skills, and it can also be difficult to fit a part-time job into your study schedule. Therefore, I thought I’d share with you some tips for making and saving money as a student in Tampere (some of these tips can also be useful for those who aren’t students).

  1. TOAS (the Tampere Student Housing Foundation) flats are generally cheaper than renting privately
    • All students accepted at UTA receive instructions on how to apply for a flat with their Letter of Acceptance. International students should apply for a TOAS flat by filling in the online application form. Room reservations are made in the order the applications are received. The applicant receives information on how to pay the deposit and the reservation fee together with the housing offer. Housing offers will be sent via email. By paying the deposit, the applicant approves the offer and it will be considered a contract. If the applicant fails to pay the deposit by the deadline, the offer will expire and the room in question will be offered to the next applicant on the waiting list. TOAS withholds the right to cancel the offer/contract in case the applicant has not been accepted to UTA.
    • TOAS has a quota of furnished flats (with a bed, mattress, desk, chair and a bookshelf) reserved for international students. The basic equipment does not include bed linen nor kitchenware. Rental agreements for quota rooms are fixed-term tenancy agreements: for degree and exchange students staying for the entire academic year from the beginning of August till the end of May; for exchange students staying for the autumn term from August till December; for exchange students staying for the spring term from January till the end of May. Fixed-term tenancy agreements cannot be terminated during the contractual period. Each tenant must sign their tenancy agreement in person at the TOAS housing office upon their arrival.
    • If you would like your international tutor to collect your key in advance in order to meet you upon your arrival so you could go to your housing together, TOAS requires that the tenancy agreement preferably be made the next working day at the TOAS office.
    • If there’s a need to extend the rental agreement, it can be done by filling in the extension form TOAS will send each tenant prior to the end of their tenancy agreement. With the same form, you can provide your banking details to TOAS in order to receive your deposit after moving out. The deposit will be refunded the following month after the tenancy agreement has ended (if the flat check-up is approved, all rents been paid and keys returned to the TOAS housing office on time).
    • International students are advised to read all the documents provided by TOAS. You should also go through the TOAS check-up list.
    • The tenancy agreement is fixed, and therefore students can only apply for another TOAS flat under exceptional circumstances
    • Rent must be paid through a bank account. TOAS provides a rental invoice, valid throughout the tenancy period. If the invoice is lost, a new one can be picked up from TOAS.
    • The tenancy contract with TOAS will expire automatically. If you are staying at TOAS, the flat has to be empty and the key must be returned by the first working day (by noon) following the last day of tenancy. Moving out and travelling home should therefore be arranged in a way that it does not cause any problems. There will be a final inspection conducted at the flat prior to departure, and should there be need for cleaning services, the costs will be deducted from the deposit. Should everything be in order, the deposit will be refunded as soon as possible.
    • You might need some type of temporary accommodation upon arrival if you arrive late at night or a few days before your flat is available. Some information on affordable temporary housing options is sent with your Letter of Acceptance.
      • Opiskelijan (Students’) Tampere association assists students in apartment hunting, if needed. Opiskelijan Tampere also organises temporary accommodation for students who do not manage to find a flat on time, although no temporary accommodation is arranged in the spring. There might be difficulties finding a flat in the autumn semester, but the majority of the international students usually find a flat. Usually, there are no problems with housing during the spring semester.
      • Affordable temporary accommodation:
      • Accommodation
  1. Use your student card and membership of the Student Union of University of Tampere (Tamy)
    • Being a member of the Tamy is a prerequisite for receiving a student card and related benefits and discounts. There are numerous student benefits and discounts offered locally and by Tamy’s cooperation partners. It’s always worth asking at cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, and museums. For example, a cup of tea or coffee at a bar could cost €1 after showing your student card instead of €2 without a student card.
    • By registering, international students receive a student certificate for UTA. With it, they are eligible for all student discounts and benefits and can use the FSHS services even before their student card is ready providing that they have paid the Tamy membership fee. The Tamy membership fee may vary from year to year, being €58 for one semester and €116 for the whole academic year this upcoming academic year for basic degree students. Students should pay the Tamy membership fee either in cash (at a bank) or through online banking by 30 September in the autumn semester and 31 January in the spring semester, and the receipt is absolutely necessary. Note that banks usually charge a service fee for cash payments. If Tamy does not receive the full amount of the membership fee, the payment will not be accepted. Hence, it is a good idea to check if service fees are being charged by the bank. The membership fee cannot be paid in cash at UTA nor at the Tamy Office.
      • Doctoral students can also voluntarily pay the membership fee when registering if they want the membership benefits. The fee is lower for doctoral students (€24.50 for one semester and €49 for the whole academic year) because it does not include the FSHS fee.
      • All international students must fill in their registration forms that are to be picked up at the International Office and returned to the Registrar’s Office. During the Orientation Course, the forms can also be picked up from the info desks situated in the lobby of the Main Building. International students also receive an information package, including instructions on registering, a form for notification of change of address, information about public transport in Tampere, the contact details of the international coordinators of the faculties, and the Orientation Course programme. In the autumn semester, students can register during and before the Orientation Course. The registration starts at the end of July and the deadline is at the end of August. In the spring semester, the registration starts at the beginning of the Orientation Course. All international students must fill in their registration forms that are to be picked up at the International Office and returned to the Registrar’s Office. During the Orientation Course, the forms can also be picked up from the info desks situated in the lobby of the Main Building. Once you have paid the Tamy membership fee, you can leave your student card application form at the Registrar’s Office. In order to register at the Registrar’s Office, international students must have the following items with them:
        • A passport, or if you come from an EU/EEA country, other applicable identification
        • The original Letter of Acceptance from your faculty. If the original has been misplaced or is needed elsewhere, the International Office can provide you with a copy.
        • A completed registration form
        • A receipt of the payment of the Tamy membership fee (voluntary in some cases)
        • A completed student card application form and a photograph for the card (voluntary)
        • Degree students also need a confirmation from their faculty at UTA that they have presented the original documents of their educational background at the faculty.
      • Student calendars (which also contain discount vouchers) can be taken free of charge upon registering at the Registrar’s Office
      • Collect your student card from Tamy roughly three weeks after registering. It takes about three weeks to manufacture a card; after which it can be collected from the Tamy’s Services Office. The price of the card is €10. The list of student cards ready to be collected is available on Tamy’s website. If your student number appears on the list, your card is ready to be collected. You can obtain your card by showing a photo ID.
      • All Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree students, both Finnish and international, are entitled to the same services and benefits from Tamy. Membership has no longer been mandatory for exchange students since autumn 2016. However, the membership is strongly recommended for them too, due to health care services, discounts, consultancy, and other services they are entitled to through Tamy’s membership. A passport photo needs to be included in the application. During the first weeks, the student certificate which international students receive from the Registrar’s Office upon registering functions as proof of student status, entitles students to the student benefits, and grants access to the services of FSHS. By showing their student card, doctoral students are entitled to Tamy’s services, discounts offered by Tamy’s cooperation partners, and some local discounts for students. They are not, however, entitled to national student discounts, such as the Matkahuolto bus travel discounts, VR train travel discounts, or meal discounts. However, doctoral students can eat at a somewhat lower price in Juvenes restaurants at the university by showing their student card at the counter.
    • Tamy’s member services include the starting kit kitchenware set designed for international students, winter sports equipment (such as skates and sledges), a van and a drill, as well as guidance and counselling services (which exchange students might often need for example in problems relating to student housing).
    • All international students who have paid the Tamy membership fee can borrow dishes and utensils (starting kit) from Tamy for a deposit. The deposit is €20 and after returning the dishes clean and undamaged, the student will be refunded €17. The basic package includes a sauce pan or a frying pan, soup plates and dinner plates, glasses and mugs, cutlery, a kitchen knife and a spatula. The Specialist in International Affairs is in charge of the starting kits. Most of the kitchenware is second hand and the number of kits in stock varies throughout the year. The stock is operated on a first come-first served basis and it cannot be guaranteed that everyone gets a set. Note that bed linen or bedding is not included.
    • The Finnish Social Insurance Institution (Kela) offers meal subsidy for students, with which you can purchase a large meal (main, side salad, two pieces of bread, and two drinks (water and milk or juice)) in the university restaurants for €2.60; or soup (also with side salad, two pieces of bread, and two drinks (water and milk or juice) starting from €1.75 depending on the restaurant chain. This also applies to other universities in and outside Tampere, and therefore you can use your student card at university restaurants in other Finnish cities. It must be noted that students can get the student meal subsidy at university restaurants even without a student card by showing a certificate of their student status if they are willing to carry this document around with them. It is possible to recharge meals and products onto the student card in Juvenes restaurants for a price lower than usual.
    • Student discounts on trains (VR), long-distance coaches (Matkahuolto), Tampere City Transport (Nysse) are available only with a Finnish student card
    • Opiskelijan (Students’) Tampere is a cooperative association established by the student unions in Tampere. Pick up Opiskelijan Tampere’s ‘supervihko’ (super booklet) discount voucher booklet during the Orientation Week or from Tamy. On their website, you can find useful information on different student discounts and benefits, job opportunities, and cultural and free time activities.
  1. Use the Finnish Student Health Service (in Finnish Ylioppilaiden terveydenhoitosäätiö (YTHS))
    • All students who have paid the Tamy membership fee (excluding doctoral students) are entitled to student health care services in every FSHS unit in Finland. A FSHS representative usually gives a presentation during the Orientation Week. FSHS provides basic health care services (including dental care and mental health care services) but does not include special health care services, such as reproductive health services. FSHS is closed in the evenings and on weekends.
    • When FSHS is not available, you can access the public health services. Students coming from EU/EEA countries and Switzerland are eligible to apply for a European Health Insurance Card, issued by their national health insurance provider. The card gives students access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare on the same terms as the local residents. A person without any type of insurance card has to cover the costs of public health care services themselves. Students coming from any of the Nordic countries are entitled to health care services according to the Nordic social security agreement. In addition to the Nordic countries, Finland has social security agreements with some other countries as well. For students coming from outside the EU/EEA countries, health centre services and hospital services are chargeable. A whole day in a hospital may cost hundreds of euros to a patient without health insurance, and therefore, health insurance must be valid throughout the entire period of stay. Since spring 2011, international students are offered an insurance package that has been collectively negotiated by Finnish higher education institutions called Student Travel Insurance (SIP). Information on the insurance package is sent to all accepted international students from outside the EU/EEA.
  1. Join ESN FINT (Erasmus Student Network Finns and Internationals in Tampere)
    • ESN is a Europe-wide network for exchange students. ESN FINT organises free-time activities, such as trips, sauna evenings and simple hang-outs, mainly for foreign students, but welcomes all internationally-minded students to join in. ESN language groups offer informal language teaching with a native speaker. ESN organises student trips to Lapland and Russia. Enthusiastic volunteers are especially needed at the beginning of each semester to help in organising events for incoming international students.
    • ESN FINT often hands out prepaid calling cards for international students during the Orientation Course in the Main Lobby for free. For international students, a pre-paid calling card is a good alternative. Prepaid cards can be purchased in R-kiosks, for example. A mobile phone bought in your home country might not work in Finland, as it might be locked for a certain operator’s SIM card. If you want to buy a new phone, affordable second hand mobiles are sold in mobile phone shops and flea markets.
    • ESN FINT organises activities such as laser tag that are cheaper than usual, because of their agreements with certain companies and because they can negotiate a lower price when many students participate
    • When you join ESN and receive the ESN card (the membership fee is €8 for the duration of one year), you can also get some discounts and enter some competitions
  1. Visit flea markets or UTA’s recycling room to find second hand/used items
    • Buying and selling second hand goods is fairly common in Finland. Second hand shops and flea markets are great places to find reasonably priced items in a good condition.
  1. Buy second hand bicycles or borrow one from UTA (you need your Basic User Account (BUA) to access this link through the Intranet)
    • A bicycle is very handy in moving about in Tampere. Affordable second hand bicycles can be found, for instance, bicycle shops, police auctions or flea markets. Tamy and the tourist information centre ‘Visit Tampere’ hand out regional bicycle maps.
    • In September, a Bicycle Day is organised on campus. Bicycle doctors do minor repairs to your bike. The university provides repair estimates and minor repairs, but you have to pay for the spare parts yourself. You can pay with a card. Second hand bicycles are on sale. Make sure you arrive early, as the bikes can be sold out pretty quickly. You can also get new bicycle maps and tips for cycling in the city.
  1. Borrow books instead of buying them
    • Students can borrow books from the university library with their student card. The libraries operate on a self-service basis. There are also plenty of books and other material in foreign languages at the city libraries. If a book is overdue, students have to pay a delay fee, and if they do not return the books at all, they will not be able to borrow any more books from the library.
  2. Take cans and bottles back to supermarkets and get money for putting them into a machine than scans them and recycles them
    • Glass and plastic bottles as well as metal beverage cans with deposit (usually €0.10-€0.40 per bottle or can) are returned to stores. Broken glass and bottles without deposit should be taken to a glass recycling point (in Tammela market square, for example).
    • Many people collect them during festivals and big events
  3. The cost of living is quite expensive, although Lidl is quite cheap, and you can find many useful and reasonably priced items in Clas Ohlson or Ikea
  4. Join Unipoli Sport and use three campuses’ gyms and services for just one fee, which is €72 for one year
  5. Save on your electricity bill by using the university computers and plugs!
  6. Open a Finnish bank account (not usually recommended for exchange students)
    • Opening a bank account is optional, and not usually recommended for exchange students. Those who have a bank account in another EU country do not necessarily need to open one in Finland. Students coming from SEPA countries do not necessarily need a Finnish bank account because banks should not charge for international payments when using an IBAN code for account transfers or when paying invoices in the SEPA area.
    • If the student you are receiving a grant from UTA, a Finnish bank account is obligatory
    • If you want to open a bank account you should remember to bring you passport with you
    • If you choose to set up a bank account, Osuuspankki is often recommended for internationals
    • Sometimes a bank may not give you access to online banking at first, only the possibility to view your statements online, but not make any transfers. I have an account with Nordea and I had to wait for four months and have three payments from work before I was able to get access to online banking.
    • Those who have registered with the Local Register Office should file an official notification of move when they leave. Your Finnish bank account should be closed if you have one, other possible service agreements terminated, and invoices paid.
  7. Take Finnish language courses free of charge at the university instead of paying for other courses
  8. Get or win money, supermarket vouchers, cinema or event tickets, or vouchers by participating in research studies, filling in surveys, or participating in panels or competitions
    • Lionbridge Tampere is a professional translation and localisation company that often organises paid research studies that require multiple languages, and these are often advertised on the Tampere foreigners Facebook group
    • University research studies are often advertised on email lists. You can sign up to the IS-list, a moderated mailing list for international students and internationally minded Finnish students, which provides information on current affairs, local events, university courses and other useful matters in English. To subscribe, simply send an email to listserv@uta.fi with one line of text in the body of the note as follows ‘SUBSCRIBE [list name] [First name] [Last name]’. For example, to subscribe to the IS-list, a person called Ida International would send an email to listserv@uta.fi with the text ‘SUBSCRIBE is-list Ida International.’ Please leave the subject line of your email empty, and delete any signatures you may have. If the subscription is successful, you will receive a confirmation email within one minute. If no confirmation is received, you should try again. Once you have subscribed to the list, you can send an email to the list in question. The list address is the same as the list name.
    • Joining the email list of your own student association is also a good idea. If you can speak Finnish, you can join Tamy’s other email lists as well. Information on the email lists can be found on Tamy’s website and in the student calendar received upon registering at the Registrar’s Office.
  1. Network
    • If you are perseverant and innovative, I believe it is possible to find work, or even establish your own business, because opportunities for foreigners are improving. I am part of the Tampere Ambassador network, which aims to gather together internationally and business oriented people from the Tampere region and is open for all people regardless of their nationality or professional background. This network is useful for finding new work opportunities.
    • I was also involved in the Talent Tampere Mentoring Programme for International Talents, an annual mentoring programme for international talents and experienced professionals in Tampere. The mentoring programme aims to support the professional development of international talents and enable them to share their international experiences with the mentors.

Currency, Notes, Euro, 50, Used Notes

Lauren Stevens


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