Socially sustainable everyday life at the University

We are creating an increasingly socially sustainable everyday life at the University by continuously taking action to promote equality, diversity and accessibility.
Equality and diversity at the University

At the University of Helsinki, equality and diversity mean the equal and non-discriminating treatment of all members of the University community as well as the promotion of their study- and work-related wellbeing. Our goal is to be at the forefront of engendering an atmosphere respectful of diversity, as well as a healthy study and work environment in line with the University's strategic goal of "the best place to study and work”. Read more about accessibility from our website

The work is still not yet done. Rather, we actively strive to further enhance the equality of our University community. We identify and remove practices and structures that create and sustain inequality. 

Our everyday activities and interaction are guided by the Strategic Plan of the University of Helsinki 2021–2030: With the power of knowledge – for the world, and our shared values: truth, Bildung, freedom and inclusivity. Equality and diversity efforts at the University are promoted by the Equality and Diversity Committee, headed by vice-rector, and representing the diversity of the University. 

Equality and diversity plan as a basis for action

Our equality efforts are based on the Equality and Diversity Plan, the first of which was drawn up in the 1990s. The latest version of the plan is valid from 2021 to 2024. Its focus areas are as follows: 

We perceive inclusion from the perspectives of cultural sensitivity and anti-racism, equality of religion and belief, accessibility, special arrangements and equal assessment practices, and the promotion of equality of gender and sexual minorities. Tangible development measures include inclusion training as well as multilingualism and linguistic diversity.

The promotion of equal leadership work relates to recruitment, salaries and career development, the status of fixed-term staff and grant-funded researchers, support for studying and teaching at units, the reconciliation of work, studies and personal life as well as the promotion of age equality. Tangible development measures include influencing the Academic Affairs Council and the Research Council. 

Sustainability and responsibility are evidenced in teaching and research. We employ gender studies as a tool for the enhancement of equality and develop continuous learning as a perspective to the promotion of equality.

Tangible development measures include active participation in the international LERU and UNA Europa networks as well as in the University’s Sustainability and Responsibility Committee.

Measures taken to promote equality and diversity

Equality is an issue that affects all University’s work community memebers and students.  

In recent years, we have organised different thematic years, such as anti-racism and disability inclusion, during which we have organised various events and training sessions for members of the university community and the wider public. 

In addition to support community members in promoting equality we have organised among other things anti-racism training, training on implicit bias and a discussion session on Bold Role Models at the University. In addition, the Minna Canth equality training and Helsinki Pride events are part of our yearly equality efforts.  We also provide staff with training concerning study-related individual arrangements for students. 

From 2021 to 2024 we will organise inclusion training, highlight and clarify our language policy as well as make our recruitment process increasingly open and equal. 

University community well-being

The strategic choice of our university, the best place to study and work, aims to improve the well-being of the University community and its members, thereby strengthening equality, equity and opportunities for influence and participation. The cornerstone of promoting the well-being of the University community is the 2023 Guidelines for Responsible Interaction. Responsible interaction and its development are the responsibility of all members of the university community. 

Staff well-being is monitored, for example, through a biennial Workplace wellbeing survey. There is also, for example, a well-being course for university staff, which provides our community members with tools to develop their own well-being in a holistic way and thus increase their well-being at work. 

Student wellbeing is promoted in degree programmes, Teaching and Learning Services and in cooperation with organisations. The different services and activities for students can be found in the Guidance Compass. Everyday well-being is strongly linked to quality teaching and guidance. Students' ability to study is affected by many different things, both inside and outside their studies. The Student Wellbeing Group (Flamma intranet) monitors and makes recommendations on student wellbeing. Students have the opportunity to participate in wellbeing courses, study skills groups and events. Guidance, advice and information is available not only in one-to-one meetings but also via chat, telephone, service points, workshops, lectures and pop-up clinics and remotely. The Studies Service also has its own materials from study support to health care and well-being

Equality and equity are part of the quality and well-being of a multicultural and multilingual university community. Our aim is to develop effective language practices and to highlight multilingualism as a strength of our University. In line with the University's strategy, we promote linguistic diversity and linguistic equality of people, as we see it as an important part of our University's development and community success. For example, we have strengthened communication in different languages through a range of training, events and guidelines. The content of the website and our communications are in principle in three languages - Finnish, Swedish and English. We have also developed recommendations on the use of languages in administrative organs of the University of Helsinki.

Fairtrade University

We have been a Fairtrade University since 2013. As a Fairtrade University, we are committed to promoting the use and availability of Fairtrade certified products in our procurement and to raising awareness of Fairtrade and its importance in global production and consumption relations. 

Fair Trade coffee and tea

Supporting Fair Trade is a concrete way to take into account both human rights and the environment, thus supporting sustainability and making procurement practices more responsible. For example, thousands of cups of coffee and tea are consumed at the University every day, so the choice of brand matters. The coffee and tea served at official University events is always Fairtrade certified. The selection has been agreed with Unicafe, Compass Group and Sodexo. The aim of all the contracted restaurants is to increase the range of Fairtrade products available in their establishments. 

The Fairtrade team is planning activities

The Fairtrade team plans and implements the University of Helsinki's Fairtrade activities, such as communication, campaign weeks and theme days. It is responsible for planning and monitoring the implementation of the University's Fair Trade strategy. The team includes representatives from the university's restaurants and university services, research and teaching staff and students. 

Responsible employer and educator

We foster democracy and genuine diversity in the work community, based on respect and cooperation.