It's easy to enjoy the lively and event-packed student life in Helsinki. However, just like in any other capital city in the Nordics it's not on the cheapest side. Luckily as a student and member of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), you get discounts, services and loads of opportunities for extracurricular activities that make your life easier and more fun. This list includes some of the interesting benefits and services that can be enjoyed by students at the University of Helsinki.
Benefits and services for students
Student life is about meeting new people and learning and experiencing new things within the student community. This is made easier by the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), the largest and oldest student union in Finland. All students completing a Bachelor's or Master's degree are members of the Student Union.
The Student Union works for better student life by promoting the interests of its 27 000 members both at the university and in society. As a member, you are entitled to various services and benefits offered directly or indirectly by the Student Union. In addition, there are over 250 student organisations operating within the Student Union opening up a field of extracurricular opportunities for you.
You can choose between
- faculty and subject organisations
- political and societal organisations
- theatres and other cultural organisations,
- international organisations
- sports and game clubs.
Joining one or more of these organisations give you an opportunity to learn many things which are not included in the actual university curriculum, but are an integral part of university studies and growth into an educated individual. Of course, you will make friends and have fun along the way.
Whatever your interests are, you are likely to find like-minded people and the right activities for you. If not, you can always found a new student organisation.
As in many capital cities, there is a great demand for housing in Helsinki and it might be hard to find something affordable. However, as a student, you have the right to apply for reasonable-priced high-quality student housing. HOAS is the main non-profit organisation providing student housing in the Helsinki Region.
Student apartments in Helsinki are of high quality, well maintained, and with central heating to keep you warm in the cold winter months. Furnished and unfurnished options are available. The shared option is usually a private bedroom for a single person, sharing the kitchen and bathroom with 1-3 other students. There are usually separate shared apartments for male and female students. However, you can apply together with friends of any gender for a shared "roomie" apartment. The apartments have a kitchen with a stove/oven and refrigerator, usually one shower and a toilet. Some apartments may have a balcony and/or a common living area.
Tips for house hunting and information about different housing options for Bachelor's, Master's, exchange and visiting students.
More information about housing for doctoral students.
As a student at the University of Helsinki, you get affordable, student-priced meals at the UniCafes on our campuses and other student restaurants across Finland.
At UniCafe, the standard lunch costs 2.60 EUR (May 2020). It includes along with the main dish also potatoes, rice or pasta as a side dish, beverages, bread and spreads and salad. A vegetarian and vegan option is always available. Some UniCafes offer low-cost breakfast and evening meals for the same price as lunch. The food at UniCafes is made from high-quality, safe and responsibly produced ingredients. The meals are near always fair-trade and organic.
UniCafes are unique in the sense that as they are owned by the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY). The students genuinely are the owners of the restaurants. They can influence the operations by giving feedback or attending the restaurant committees at the campuses.
Read more and check out the weekly menus at the UniCafe website.
The Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) is an expert in student healthcare. It provides basic healthcare services for all degree students based on their student union membership*.
Most of the basic healthcare services offered by FSHS are free of charge, for example:
- appointments with general practitioners
- public health nurses
- oral hygienists
- laboratory or X-ray examinations with a referral from an FSHS doctor/dentist
- the first dental examination visit
- basic vaccinations and
- speech therapy.
Some of the services are subject to charge, for example, appointments with FSHS specialists and more extensive dental care. In addition, patients referred by FSHS for specialist care will be required to pay the resulting outpatient clinic fees.
Read more about the extensive healthcare services on the FSHS website. Please note that the FSHS does not include emergency medical care or any kind of hospital care. Therefore international students need to ensure that they have a valid health insurance.
*Subject to change as of 1 Jan 2021 when the Act on healthcare for students in higher education will take effect.
It’s always good to remember life is not just about studying. Exercise can help the body, mind and soul.
UniSport is an exercise centre for students with several locations on all campuses. UniSport offers a variety of sports from body combat to pilates and floorball to hot yoga. With an affordable membership card of 1, 4 or 12 months, you can attend the group exercise classes and open ball game shifts on all campuses. UniSport also offers diverse training courses in various sports, as well as personal training, massage and testing services. If you put together your own team, you can participate in the ball games series organised by UniSport.
If it simply a gym your looking for, UniSport has five across its six locations. This includes its premier three-story facility housed underneath the Think Corner, which at 800-square-meters makes it the largest gym in the city centre.
More information on the UniSport website.
In addition to the basic healthcare and sports services, the students at the University of Helsinki have access to the following services:
The study psychologists offer guidance and counselling to Bachelor’s and Master’s degree students regarding issues such as
- academic skills
- time management
- well-being and
- thesis writing.
If you need a friendly ear, someone to chat with or peer support, Nyyti is an organisation supporting students’ mental health and life management skills. In addition, the chaplains of the University of Helsinki are there for you, regardless of your religious background and convictions.
For students who are parents, Little HYY provides a cheap childcare service. You can bring your child to the childcare for maximum four hours per day, for example during a lecture or an examination.
To take care of your religious needs, and/or your mental or spiritual wellbeing, you are welcome to use the multi-faith prayer room in the main building of the university.
Read more about the services for students related to healthcare and wellbeing.
As an attending degree student, you are entitled to significantly discounted fares in public transport both in the Helsinki metropolitan area as well as in long-distance transport with trains and buses across Finland. A valid student card is required.
Read more and check your eligibility for student fares on public transport.
The Helsinki metropolitan area has a highly effective public transport system of metro, tram, bus and train lines overseen by HSL. It has been named as the second best public transport system among European cities.
The most convenient way to prove your student status and get your student benefits is to present a Frank student ID. It acts as your student identification and provides numerous student benefits, either digitally as the Frank App or as a plastic card.
Frank unlocks hundreds of student discounts either online or directly in the store, for example
- insurance agreements
- mobile subscriptions
- electricity plans
- day-trip cruises
- magazine subscriptions and
- cultural and sporting events.
Read more about the Frank student ID and check out the discounts on the Frank website.
Student life and the academic year are peppered with a variety of academic traditions and events. Throughout the year, the University of Helsinki and the Student Union (HYY) organise a wide variety of events and parties open to all students, for example
- an opening carnival to celebrate the start of the academic year
- a traditional procession on Finland’s Independence Day and
- festivities on Shrove Tuesday including an academic sledging race.
The activities of the different student organisations include
- anniversary celebrations
- academic dinner parties
- cultural events
- work-life excursions and
- trips into nature.
Besides student events, you can immerse yourself in the world of science and the latest research by attending events at the Think Corner. The city of Helsinki is also packed with activities, happenings and events that you can enjoy both in the cold of winter and under the midnight sun.
As a student at the University of Helsinki, you do not need to acquire all your study materials and equipment yourself. Instead, you get access to inspirational learning spaces, technology and state-of-art laboratories that our international students rank to top positions globally.
All four campuses have modern libraries with about 73.5 shelf-kilometres of printed books and journals, plus e-resources that can be remotely accessed. Instead of having to buy your study materials, you can use the library resources for free. In the award-winning Main Library Kaisa House, a magnificently designed building full of light, you can find 1000 workplaces and peaceful spots for relaxation.
The learning centres offer workspaces 24/7 for individual studying as well as group work.
The comprehensive ICT services include
- facilities with computers
- special software
- electronic learning platforms
- study materials that are distributed through e-channels.
At the Language Centre, you have the possibility to learn languages and complete courses fully or partly independently.
You can easily get by in Helsinki with English—the Finns are amongst the best non-native English speakers in the world—but learning the local language will make your stay more rewarding and give you more career options after graduation.
University of Helsinki offers free Finnish language courses for enrolled exchange, visiting and international degree students. They are a fun way to learn the language, network with other international students across the fields and get to know more about the Finnish culture.
Check out the Finnish courses for international students on the Instructions for Students -website.