On 11 May 2017, the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland issued a new advanced ruling that MBA education provided by Henley Business School in Finland is exempted from VAT. Henley Business School is part of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. This ruling not only makes high quality education more accessible to people in Finland, but also increases the attractiveness of the Finnish education market to other European universities.
The Henley MBA qualifies for university-level master’s degree status. This is because the Henley MBA is part of the official degree system in the United Kingdom, where it is considered as a higher academic degree like other degrees that are completed in a university. In accordance with the Finnish education system, MBA programmes provided by Finnish institutions are considered as additional education, not as master’s degrees.
In accordance with the principles of EU law, when providing MBA education in Finland, Henley Business School should be regarded similarly to Finnish universities providing educational services in accordance with the Sections 39 and 40 of the Finnish VAT Act. Treating the Henley MBA differently in value-added taxation would be in breach of the principles of equality and non-discrimination provided for by EU law.
The Supreme Administrative Court of Finland therefore ruled that MBA education programmes provided by Henley Business School in Finland are regarded as tax exempted educational services. From the issuance of the ruling onwards, students will be treated equally in all Henley Business School locations around the world, where the MBA programme is provided.
“This ruling is not only a significant achievement for the University of Reading and Henley Business School but also a good precedent, sending a message to European universities and schools that the Finnish market is open to competition on a more equal playing field,” says Kristiina Äimä, Doctor of Laws, LL.M. at KPMG Finland. “And in the long run that should also be good news for the Finnish economy.”
“This Supreme Administrative Court ruling is good news, not only for Henley Business School as one of the world’s largest executive education providers, but also for Finland. It now makes high quality education more accessible to people in Finland, where approximately half of the students finance the MBA studies themselves,” says Annu Matula, Director, Henley Business School, Finland. “Certainly, this ruling will raise the bar on post-graduate, post-experience education available in our market today.”