Basic information about the University of Helsinki
What kind of a university is The University of Helsinki? We are Finland’s largest and oldest academic institution. Since 1640, it has contributed to the establishment of a fair and equal society that is considered the best in the world according to a number of indicators. Today, this multidisciplinary academic community solves problems that concern all of us, also on a global scale.
For the World

We wish to share our expertise and have an impact on the world. Our research and education set global benchmarks, as shown by several indicators. We work daily to develop new cancer treatments, improve teaching and education, and promote lifelong learning. As a multidisciplinary university, we resolve problems that affect everyone, such as the challenges of climate change. Our strategic plan currently emphasises four research themes: the digital world, ageing and health, globalisation, and sustainable development

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Multidisciplinary university, For the world

The University of Helsinki resolves problems that affect all of us. Truth and the quest for new knowledge as well as cross-disciplinary research shape our planet and lives. Radical openness and active international collaboration make the University of Helsinki a global force. We believe passionately in the power of thought to change attitudes, people and society – for a better world.

Three core du­ties

The University of Helsinki aims to produce research of a high international standard in all fields. Research provides the University’s scholars with solid expertise to participate in the development of society and the business sector in various cooperation projects from local to international level. The University of Helsinki participates in more than half of all national and Nordic centres of excellence in research. It is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and an active partner in Una Europa, an alliance founded under the European Universities Initiative.

The University allocates funding to research based on competition and evaluation. Special emphasis is placed on multidisciplinary initiatives within basic research. About half of the research conducted at the University of Helsinki is financed from the University’s operating expenses and the other half from external funding sources.

Teaching at the University of Helsinki is based on research. The underlying principle is that every teacher does research and every researcher teaches. According to an international evaluation, teaching at the University of Helsinki is of a high European standard. As a research-intensive university, the University of Helsinki encourages most of its students to complete a second-cycle degree. The great variety of minor subject options continues to be an important component in the high quality of degrees completed at the University. Internationalisation has a key role in all degree programmes from bachelor's to doctoral level. The Open University offers flexible study opportunities in accordance with the University's degree requirements, and University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+ provides professional provides continuing education and development services for organizations and individuals in Finland and abroad.

The University of Helsinki is a responsible social force, an advocate of science and scholarship, and a valued partner. The University boasts an extensive network of partners, including its alumni and friends, donors and funders, foundations and civic organisations, businesses and the media as well as political decision-makers and civil servants in the public sector.

The University’s social engagement is manifested through its core duties of research and teaching, in addition to which the University and members of the University community interact with the surrounding society in numerous ways.

Interaction with the University enhances the operational conditions of its partners, the business sector and the society at large. Graduates serving as experts in various fields constitute the University’s most significant contribution to society. The University’s representatives are consulted by decision-makers, participate in public debate and provide research information for public use. Productive, well-functioning partnerships generate solutions to the great challenges facing not only Finnish society, but societies globally.

Get to know our values and our strategy
New think­ing since the 17th cen­tury

The University of Helsinki was established by a 13-year-old girl. The world came to know her as Queen Christina of Sweden. The University was initially a small and modest academic community with 11 professors and 250 students. Future civil servants and members of the clergy were taught Lutheran theology and European humanism.

In the 19th century, the University became the centre of the Finnish national awakening. It was the scene for the formation of Finnish identity, history, language and culture as well as the creation of the Finnish national anthem and flag. Throughout its history, the University of Helsinki has played a key role in the development of the Finnish education system, cultural life and welfare state. It has been the alma mater of seven presidents and thousands of influential figures in the worlds of politics, scholarship, culture and the business sector, not forgetting four Nobel laureates.

Our success as a world-class university is not measured in years, but in decades and centuries. In good times and bad, our focus has always been on the future.

Read more about the history of the University

Ground­break­ing research, solu­tion-driven think­ing

Finland’s northern location and rugged terrain have made us Finns survivors. Life at the top of the world requires solution-driven thinking, openness and the ability to work together. We are known for our ability to think clearly and produce solutions that stand the test of time. The combination of our expertise, mindset and ability to cooperate is something the world needs right now.

Today, the University of Helsinki has 40,000 students and researchers and 11 faculties conducting groundbreaking multidisciplinary research. We are one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary universities, featuring in the top 50–100 in most university rankings.

Depending on the method of calculation used, there are approximately 18,000–23,000 higher education institutions in the world, which means we are among the top 0.5%.

Fair Science

We Finns believe in a just society. We are proof that even a small country can succeed if all its citizens have the opportunity to succeed. Whether it is about health, education or technology, we develop solutions for everyone, not just the chosen few. We create and share ideas that contribute to social wellbeing, regardless of people’s income or education. 

The roots of the Finnish school and healthcare systems, widely considered among the best in the world, can be traced back to the University of Helsinki. They are excellent examples of social justice and sustainable development for everyone’s benefit. Transparency, equality and justice guide all our actions. Equality and diversity are our core values.

We believe in radical openness – open science, open data and open innovations. Knowledge sharing promotes and accelerates economic, social and cultural progress. This, we believe, is humanity at its best.

Hope for the fu­ture

Our most important values are critical thinking and the quest for truth. These are also what the world needs right now, perhaps more than ever. We contribute to the development of a better, more sustainable world by participating in the resolution of global problems.

A multifaceted world needs multidisciplinary solutions. We are known as a pioneer of climate research. Our worldwide network of air-quality measuring stations benefits the whole world. Thanks to our research, mechanisms that cause the onset of cancer are now better understood than ever before. Our clinical biobank is a cornerstone of pioneering genetic research. We educate the world’s best teachers and lead the way with big data.

We work persistently for a fairer, safer and better world. To succeed, we need your help.

Learn more about the social impact of our research

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