Obviously mank wants to make the point that he thinks the Finnish school system is **** and there is no way to make him think otherwise. So be it then. From the sounds of it the Swedish system is very similar to the Finnish one. When considered for university admission you get points from your grades, entrance examination and relevant work experience (3 years minimum I think). The amount of points you need to get into a particular programme depends on the demand. So for a slightly less popular course it might be enough if you get good points either from the entrance exam or your grades. For a very popular one (medicine, biology), you need good points from both entrance exam and grades. For example, I could have gone to study physics without an entrance exam because I got good grades from my advance maths and science exams. And in a similar way to Sweden, there is a "quota" for people who want to do a university degree but through an unconventional route, after a vocational qualification and work experience for example. So I'm not denying that these two students in question could not have been admitted into a university without passing their IB. All I'm saying is that they must have got a good result from their entrance exam instead! From the university's point of view as long as you have the knowledge needed they will let you in. Whether you have proved this in your school exams or the entrance exam it doesn't matter! As for the quality of the average Master's thesis I don't know since I didn't do my degree in Finland. I have friends who have got a Master's in biology and their work has been rather extensive, similar to the requirements for a UK Masters I would say. I have no experience from social sciences so I can't comment on that.