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A Motivating Work Environment

Founded in 1640, the University of Helsinki is an international academic community with more than 40,000 students and members of staff, and the oldest and most multidisciplinary university in Finland. The University's 11 faculties operate on four campuses in Helsinki and in 17 other localities in Finland. Annually, the number of degrees completed at the University is 5,000, of which 470 are doctorates.

According to its Strategic Plan, the mission of the University of Helsinki is to be the most comprehensive institution of research, edification and intellectual regeneration in Finland, a pioneer and a builder of the future. The University's vision is to consolidate its position among the world's leading multidisciplinary research universities and to actively promote the wellbeing of humanity and a just society. One of the University's strategic targets is to be a thriving and inspiring community. The key to implementing the strategy is a competent staff. For more on the University's values and objectives, read the University of Helsinki Strategic Plan 2013-2016.

The University is very well connected internationally, having concluded some 80 cooperative agreements with universities around the world.  The expertise of our researchers is frequently utilised by the international scientific community, for example through conferences and publications. The University belongs to the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The University of Helsinki is committed to promoting equality and preventing discrimination in all its operations.

The University is based in Helsinki, the second northernmost capital in Europe. Helsinki proper has approximately 0.6 million inhabitants, and the metropolitan area comprising Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa has a population of more than 1.3 million. The city is located by the Baltic Sea. Thanks to its northern location, Helsinki enjoys four distinct seasons. The modern city offers dwellers a great variety of services and a highly efficient public transport system, but is also close to nature. Helsinki.fi is a window into the life, events and services of the university city.


Career prospects

The University of Helsinki employs a four-level career model which comprises all teaching and research positions. This model ensures that all job titles are clear and uniform across the organisation, and provides a framework for progressing on the academic career.

Level 4 Professor, research director and senior curator
Level 3  University lecturer and clinical instructor
  University researcher, senior researcher, research coordinator and curator
  Assistant professor (tenure track)
Level 2 Postdoctoral researcher, university instructor
Level 1 Doctoral student
  Specialising doctor/dentist/veterinarian
  Research assistant, teaching assistant

The University employs a tenure track for teaching and research personnel for the purpose of increasing the predictability, competitiveness and attractiveness of academic careers while promoting internationalisation at the University. An appointee to the tenure track will be employed as an assistant professor for a duration of three to five years, depending on his or her background and experience. If the appointee produces successful work which fulfils pre-determined criteria, employment may be continued with a second fixed-term contract, after which the appointee may receive a permanent position as a professor.

The University of Helsinki strives to closely intertwine academic research and teaching. For this reason, all the members of our teaching and research staff engage in both teaching and research. This way the latest research can be used in teaching, and young researchers at the beginning of their careers obtain crucial teaching experience.

Non-academic staff at the University is divided into administrative staff, IT staff, library staff, UniSport staff, marketing and communications staff, museum staff, teaching and research support staff and technical staff. Open positions among non-academic staff are primarily advertised internally, so that existing University staff receive the opportunity to gain new experiences and further their careers inside the University.


Flexible hours and motivating pay

Teaching and research staff are under an annual workload of 1,600 hours. This means that their hours are extremely flexible: there is no set number of hours to work in a day, and the employee may decide on how the hours are allocated during the year. The division of work hours between different tasks (teaching, research, other duties) are entered into the work plan which is drafted annually with the superior.

As a rule, non-academic staff have flexible hours. Persons who have been employed by the University for at least one year accrue 30 days of vacation per year, i.e., six weeks. Persons who have been employed by the University for at least 15 years accrue 38 days of vacation per year.

Salaries are based on the salary system for Finnish universities (YPJ), according to which a requirement level is defined for each position, and a level of personal performance for each employee.  The portion of the salary determined by personal performance is between 4 and 46.3% of the salary for the requirement level of the position. Personal performance is regularly evaluated in the assessment discussions arranged every other year. The objective of the salary system is to ensure a fair and motivating salary.


Skills development

The University of Helsinki develops its professional community actively and supports the skills of its staff. A wide range of staff training on a variety of topics is available to both academic and non-academic staff.  Strategic goals include not only the continuous development of specialist competence, but also the enhancement of international, communication, network, leadership and financial competence as well as workplace skills. The University's international cooperation agreements provide staff with opportunities to acquire international experience through teacher and researcher exchange, for example.

The supervision and guidance for doctoral students working on their dissertations at the beginning of their career are ensured in the doctoral school model. In this model, which will be adopted in the beginning of 2014, every doctoral student is part of a doctoral programme, and through the programme, part of one of the University's four doctoral schools.

The ability of permanent teaching staff to engage in research work will be supported by providing research periods which are free of teaching. The pedagogical skills of teaching and research staff are considered an important asset, and support is provided for their further development. The Centre for Research and Development of Higher Education provides the University's teaching staff with expertise in teaching and learning in higher education. To help increase the appreciation for teaching and to reward excellent teachers, the University has established a Teachers' Academy, a multidisciplinary collegial network, with 20 new fellows appointed every academic year.


Wellbeing and balancing work and family

The University of Helsinki has invested in the welfare of its employees by offering preventative occupational health services and general medical care with the Mehiläinen Group. UniSport, the exercise services provider owned jointly by the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, offers a wide range of low-cost exercise services on all campuses. For more information, see the UniSports Web site.

To support the balance of work and family, Finnish legislation guarantees employees time off when they have small children. Maternal leave is approximately four months, typically beginning one month before the estimated date of the birth. At the University, the first three months of maternal leave are paid time off. Parental leave, approximately six months in duration, follows maternal leave and may be used by either parent. A separate paternal leave of approximately 9 weeks is allocated for fathers. The University pays the salary for six days of this period. For the unpaid period of maternal, paternal or parental leave, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA) pays an allowance to the parent who stays at home caring for the child. After these leave periods, one of the parents may stay on child home care leave until the child is three years old. It is also possible to use part-time child care leave to work fewer hours until the child finishes his or her second year of comprehensive school.

In Finland, children have the right to municipal day care once parental leave ends. Private day-care centres, some of them international, exist in addition to the municipal centres.

In Finland, children begin the 9-year comprehensive school when they are seven years old. In addition to Finnish and Swedish schools, the Greater Helsinki area features a few international schools which use English, French, German or Russian as the language of instruction. The Finnish school system is internationally recognised and esteemed, and education is free of cost on all levels. Similarly, there are no tuition fees associated with University studies.

In Finland pensions of university employees are covered by two state pension systems, depending on the employee’s year of birth. The amount of earnings-related pension is affected by the working career, earnings and the pension accrual rate, which varies for people of different ages. Pensions are funded through contributions from the employees and the employer. The employer deducts the employee’s pension contribution from his or her gross salary in connection with the payment of the salary and pays it along with the employer contribution to the pension company. The amount of the contributions is based on a fixed percentage of the employee’s gross salary (in 2014 the employee’s contribution is 5.55–7.05 % depending on the employee’s year of birth). The pension contributions are not  returned if the person moves from Finland. The Finnish earnings related pension is paid out to all eligible employees regardless of their place of residence.