The Finnish Economic Guru competition’s winner crowned for the 25th time – prizes include student places in eight universities

  • The Economic Guru competition that tests Finnish general upper secondary school students’ economics skills has firmly established its place in the field of financial literacy education in Finland. This year, the annual competition was held for the 25th time.
  • The objective of the competition is to raise interest in economic matters among general upper secondary school students, and also among the general public through the media coverage given to the competition.
  • The competition’s main draw is the chance to win a direct student place in one of several Finnish universities and skip the usual admissions process in which admission is based either on prior academic record or entrance examination.
  • The 25th Economic Guru is Juho Parkkulainen from the University of Eastern Finland Teacher Training School in Joensuu. Parkkulainen won the Economic Guru 2023 final held in March.

The Economic Guru competition for Finnish general upper secondary school students was held for the 25th time this year. Economic Guru is an annual competition that tests the entrants’ understanding of economic phenomena. The competition was held for the first time in 1997. Since then, it has been held annually except for two intervening years: first because of the merger of the organising banking association and the second time because of the Covid pandemic. To celebrate the 25th anniversary, this year’s final included a gala event, whose guests included finalists from previous years.

All Finnish general upper secondary schools can host the competition for their students. The preliminary competition is a written test held simultaneously at all participating schools similarly to the matriculation exams. The Economic Guru jury then chooses 14 finalists from across Finland for the final.

At the final, participants take part in both a written exam and a debate. The debate is held in pairs with each participant arguing either for or against the given motion. The participants are assigned their position at random, which means that they may need to argue in favour of a motion that they personally disagree with. This year’s winner had to defend a motion stating that Finnish energy companies should be subjected to a windfall tax to tax excessive profits. The debates were streamed live on the website of Kauppalehti, Finland’s largest business newspaper.

The Economic Guru top three in 2023 (from the left): Ilmari Pietikäinen, Ronja Eklund and Juho Parkkulainen. Photo: Tiina Somerpuro
The Economic Guru top three in 2023 (from the left): Ilmari Pietikäinen, Juho Parkkulainen and Ronja Eklund. Photo: Tiina Somerpuro

Finland has an abundance of economics competitions

Of the roughly 380 general upper secondary schools in Finland, about 120–150 schools host the Economic Guru competition for their students annually. This year, about 600 students entered the competition. Economic Guru serves as good preparation for the matriculation exam in social studies. The winner is crowned with an authentic doctoral hat that is passed on from one winner to the next.

These days, Finnish schools are offered an abundance of competitions around different subjects. Economics and financial literacy make no exception: Economic Guru is not the only competition that measures economics skills. Pupils in grade 9 have been taking part in an economics quiz organised by one of Finland’s largest banks since the 1950s. Pupils in grade 8 can take part in a competition built around the Moneymaster mobile game, which takes about an hour to play and is also available in English.

Generation €uro, organised by the Bank of Finland, is an annual competition in which teams of upper secondary students complete challenges related to monetary policy. Finland’s winning team participates in a final award event attended by the winning teams from other European countries. The is a gamified learning environment promoting financial literacy that includes a national competition that allows comprehensive school pupils to compete for a place in the European Money Quiz final. The Economic Guru competition was launched at an opportune time: if it was introduced now, it would have a much harder time gaining a foothold in Finland than it did back in 1997. In fact, some teachers are saying that schools are now spoiled for choice in terms of competitions.

Economic Guru is organised by Finance Finland (FFI), the Association for Teachers of History and Social Studies (HYOL) and the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau (FINE). The competition is sponsored by the Kauppalehti business newspaper, Economy and Youth TAT, and the Union of Finnish Upper Secondary School Students.

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