Quality and development of teaching

The development of teaching is based on its appreciation as well as on pedagogical skills and the willingness to develop oneself and enhance the potential of the community. Teaching is being developed into an increasingly open, inclusive and student-oriented direction. Teaching and studying are based on research, which is the precondition of their quality.
Values and principles of teaching

The philosophy of teaching at the University of Helsinki is founded on the values of the University: truth, Bildung, freedom and inclusivity. It encapsulates the principles to which the University as a community is committed.

The three principles are:

1) Teaching is based on research

  • All teachers research and all researchers teach.
  • All students adopt a research-based approach and familiarise themselves with research activities throughout their studies.

2) The University is a high–quality learning community and environment

  • Students are active and responsible members of the academic community who are taken into consideration as individuals, and their contribution is valued in all University operations.
  • Teaching develops inclusivity at the University and promotes wellbeing.

3) Teaching is aimed at learning

  • The aim of studying is to gain in-depth and appropriate knowledge and skills. The criteria for successful teaching are based on the quality and meaningfulness of learning as well as on high-quality learning outcomes.
  • Teaching is implemented in a blended manner to allow teaching methods to support the achievement of important learning outcomes and the meaningfulness of studies.


The philosophy of teaching at the University of Helsinki is part of a larger framework of teaching and studies that includes the Ethical principles of teaching and studies at the University of Helsinki as well as the University’s teaching skills evaluation criteria used, for instance, at the Teachers’ Academy and in the evaluation of the teaching merits of those applying to teaching positions. Together these documents uphold the basic values of strategic planning and practical teaching at the University.

Focus on teachers – skills and continuous development

Skilled staff are the University’s most important resource

The University supports its teachers’ skills with diverse staff training, including training in university pedagogy and the development of skills in educational technology, digital teaching and supervision.

Research based development of learning and teaching

The Centre for University Teaching and Learning (HYPE) investigates learning and teaching. Based on the high-quality research, the Centre supports degree programmes and faculties in the development of learning and teaching, and enhances pedagogical expertise among university staff members.

The University of Helsinki Teachers’ Academy is a network of distinguished university teachers

Appointment to the Teachers’ Academy signifies special recognition for teaching merits and scholarship in the field of teaching. Fellows of the Teachers’ Academy are pioneers in the development of learning environments and processes.

How is excellent teaching defined?

Future of teaching and learning

The university has developed scenarios for the futures of teaching and learning as part of the project Opetuksen tulevaisuus 2035 (‘Future of Teaching 2035’). The scenarios were created in collaborative workshops and interviews with experts.

In addition to teaching and learning, these scenarios describe change in the operating environment more broadly. The scenarios can be used to take ideas further and for inspiration in a wide range of contexts and from a variety of perspectives. They make it possible to develop the teaching and methods of faculties, as well as the support services for and expertise in teaching.

The scenarios and the final report are intended for long-term internal use by the University community. The scenarios were created during the academic year 2022-2023 as the university was celebrating teaching.

Students’ role in the development of teaching

The views and experiences of students help to make the University of Helsinki the best place to study and work. Students have access to various channels of influence. Students can play an important role in developing the community as a whole by participating in guidance and supervision, feedback surveys, development discussions and student association activities or different levels of University administration. Many of the University’s administrative bodies include student members or representatives elected by the Student Union or a student organisation.


Education quality systen

Universities constitute socially important learning environments. In order to be able to serve this purpose, our operations must be transparent and developed continuously on the basis of internal and external feedback. Evaluations and the audits of the quality assurance system facilitate the critical examination of universities as learning environments.

  • Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programmes annually assess their activities and draw up a status report, as jointly agreed. This status report includes assessment of the programme curriculum, monitoring of student progress, student feedback results and examination of the achievement of degree targets.
  • Annual monitoring is part of the University’s operations management process. The activities and quality of degree programmes are assessed in a review every three years.
  • Student feedback is part of the University’s system of self-assessment and quality management of education. Feedback is collected during courses from students at various stages of study.

The feedback is used in decision-making as well as the management and development of teaching. Graduates are asked to complete the national career tracking survey.

Management of education

Degree education takes place in degree programmes. A degree programme can consist of studies in several disciplines and include study tracks.

Each degree programme is led by a steering group, which prepares the curriculum and decides on the annual teaching programme. The faculty council decides on the curriculum. Degrees are awarded by the faculty.

The degree programme directors have the overall responsibility for the management of their degree programme and the quality of its operations together with the degree programme steering group. The steering group has up to eight members, two of whom are students.

Degree Programme Director and Steering Group

  • Steering group prepares the proposals for the curriculum, degree objectives, the number of students admitted to the programme as well as on the admission criteria.

  • Steering group decides on the annual teaching programme.

  • Director negotiates with the heads of departments on teaching resources.

  • Director is responsible for the management of the programme, the  achievement of its objectives and its quality.

Doctoral School Director and Steering Group

Monitor and coordinate the achievement of the goals and the quality of the doctoral programmes offered by the doctoral school.

Faculty Council

  • Grants the right to complete a degree and awards degrees.

  • Decides on the curricula and the admission criteria of the degree programmes.

  • Drafts a proposal for the number of new students.

  • Is responsible for the quality and approval of doctoral dissertations.

  • Is responsible for the quality of teaching and research.


Decides on the resources of the degree programmes.

Vice-dean for Academic Affairs

  • Leads programmes according to strategic goals and guidelines.

  • Prepares the allocation of resources and negotiates about them with the dean.

Vice-dean for Research

Leads research and doctoral education according to strategic goals and guidelines.

Head of Academic Affairs

Steers the administration and the services of education for the faculty and the degree programmes.

Head of Services

Coordinates the services of doctoral education.

Director of Development (Teaching and Learning Services)

  • Steers the Teaching and Learning Services and decides on the processes of administration and services.

  • Coordinates the preparation of the strategic goals and guidelines of education.

Director of Development (Research Services)

  • Steers the Research Services.

  • Coordinates the preparation of the strategic goals and guidelines of research

Rector or Vice-rectors

  • Decides on the general university-wide guidelines.

  • Rector decides on the establishment and termination of degree programmes.

  • Rector decides on resources.

Academic Affairs Council

  • Prepares the strategic goals and guidelines of education.

  • Monitors and coordinates the achievement of the goals and the quality of the bachelor’s and master’s programmes.

  • Collaborates with the steering committee for doctoral education.

Steering Committee for Doctoral Education

  • Monitors and coordinates the achievement of the goals and the quality of the doctoral programmes.

  • Prepares the strategic goals and guidelines of doctoral education.

University Board

Decides on the Regulations on Degrees and the Protection of Students’ Rights, decides on the maximum intake of new students and degree targets.

International cooperation for the development of teaching and education

We are involved in several international organisations and networks. The aim of our partnerships is to enhance the quality of our teaching.

One of the most significant networks is UNA Europa, an alliance of European universities committed to the development of in-depth and long-term cooperation, particularly in innovative top-level teaching.