As predicted, the operating result of the University of Helsinki for 2018 was in deficit

In 2018 the focus at the University of Helsinki was on consolidating the extensive reforms carried out in the previous years and improving a sense of community. In financial terms, the year was challenging, with an operating result in deficit by nearly €17 million.

The operating result of the University of Helsinki in 2018 was €16.7 million in deficit. Operating result denotes the result without taking investment activities into account. Market fluctuations impacted the investment activities, leading to an overall negative result of €35.9 million.

The operating result was in the red also in 2016 and 2017. These deficits were caused by the decrease in recent years in the core funding provided by the government, as well as the freezing of the university index between 2016 and 2019. In 2018 core funding decreased by €3 million, and is expected to further decrease in 2019 by approximately €5.6 million. Furthermore, the freezing of the university index is estimated to cause a reduction of €8.6 million in 2019. The University’s budget for 2019 is €30 million in the red.

“We expect the next government of Finland to take the funding situation of universities seriously. The university index must be reinstated, in addition to which core funding must be increased in order to maintain the preconditions for high-quality education and research,” emphasises Jari Niemelä, rector of the University of Helsinki.

Nearly two-thirds of the University's expenses consist of staff expenses. At the end of 2018, the number of employees was a little over 7,800, of whom nearly 4,500 were teachers and researchers. Another considerable expense are the facilities required for studying, research and other activities.


Credits completed as before, degree numbers dropping

In 2018 the University of Helsinki had 31,200 students pursuing a degree, with more than 5,500 degrees completed. The number of degrees dropped from the preceding year, but the number of students who completed 55 credits during the year remained the same. The number of credits completed also matched that of the year 2017.

“We must increase our contributions to student supervision in particular to attain our goals for completed degrees on the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels,” says Rector Niemelä.

Nearly 11,000 publications were completed at the University. The number of peer-reviewed publications grew, their share of all publications being close to 70%. Altogether 3,300 research projects were ongoing in 2018.

Elements of AI, a massive open online course, garnered enormous success with as much as 100,000 registered students. The course has already been completed by approximately 10,000 students.

Growth in international research funding

The amount of competitive research funding continued to grow thanks to international funding, which now constitutes one-fifth of all research funding.

The University of Helsinki has been successful in seeking funding, among others, from the European Research Council. In 2018 funding was awarded to six recipients at the University, taking the number of grant recipients to over 70. 

Responsibility highlighted in investment activities

The return of investment of the University of Helsinki Group was -4.36% in 2018, which above all mirrors the negative trend prevalent in the stock market. In the first half of the year, credit risk was significantly decreased, partially avoiding the increased uncertainty in the interest-rate market in the latter half of the year. At the end of the year, the scope of stock investments was extended as part of a transition to an allocation of assets based on the new principles for investment activities approved by the University Board in October. The new principles aim to increase the efficiency and responsibility of investment activities. Attempts to improve efficiency will be made, for example, by cutting expenses related to the activities, diversifying asset allocation and improving transparency.

“Responsible investment has become a key starting point for the University’s investment policy. In the spring of 2019, we will draw up the principles of responsible investment, which will be reviewed by the Board of the University in June,” Niemelä explains.

Further information:

Finance: Marjo Berglund,, phone +358 400 812 538

Teaching and studying: Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta,, phone +358 50 511 5382

Research: Ritva Dammert,, phone +358 2941 22292


Further information about the University’s finances

Financial statements (in Finnish)



  • 31,245 degree students
  • 1,850 international degree students
  • 5,514 degrees
  • 1.1 million completed credits
  • 27,741 applicants in main admissions, 3,438 new students
  • 31,644 Open University students
  • Almost 100,000 registrations for the massive open online course Elements of AI, with approximately 10,000 completions


  • 10,926 publications, of which 69% peer-reviewed
  • 3,302 research projects
  • 19 Academy of Finland Centres of Excellence, of which 14 led from the University of Helsinki
  • 6 new Academy of Finland professorships, altogether 18
  • 18 researchers from the University of Helsinki on the Highly Cited Researchers list
  • €37 million in international research funding


  • 103 invention disclosures and 43 patent applications
  • 30,407 registered alumni
  • 518 events at Think Corner, with a total audience of approximately 350,000
  • €56 million in donations to the University through the For the World fundraising campaign between 2013 and 2018
  • 39 million page visits on the website
  • 18,500 international media hits


  • 7,838 members of staff, of whom 4,458 teachers and researchers
  • 1,306 international staff members
  • 25% of teaching and research staff are international staff


  • 57th in the Shanghai ranking
  • In the top 0.5% among the 18,000 universities in the world