The University has reassessed its collaboration with Israeli universities

The University is suspending its exchange agreements with Israeli universities, but does not intend to restrict the academic freedom of its researchers to collaborate with their Israeli colleagues.

The University of Helsinki Board and rector are shocked by the civilian victims of the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas as well as the catastrophic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The University calls on the parties involved in the conflict to refrain immediately from using violence against non-military parties and to prevent genocide in accordance with the decisions of the International Court of Justice.    

The University of Helsinki is also deeply concerned about the destruction of universities in Gaza and the fate of their students and staff. The University is committed to contributing actively to rebuilding higher education and research infrastructures, once this is possible.   

Academic freedom as the guideline 

Protesters have called on the University to terminate its collaboration with Israeli universities and to divest from the country.  

No international sanctions have been imposed as part of the Gaza conflict. In their absence, the selection of collaboration partners is central to academic freedom. The freedom of research is so crucial to university operations that it will not be limited. The University is committed to complying with research ethics practices and will continue to develop the ethical review of research collaboration.   

Exchange activities based on bilateral agreements are central to the University’s efforts to increase mutual understanding and interaction between students. The University has not sent students to Tel Aviv University or the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since the beginning of the current conflict. However, the University is now expressing its concern about the conflict by fully suspending university-level exchange activities with its Israeli partners. In addition, it will not resume exchange activities without first conducting an ethical review.   

No direct ownership in Israeli companies 

The University of Helsinki has no direct ownership in Israeli businesses or in companies listed by the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The guiding principle of the University of Helsinki’s investment activities is responsibility, assessed on the basis of factors including compliance with international norms. Detailed information on such norms is available in the University’s principles for responsible investment activities. Information on the University’s investments is also continuously available to the public.    

Statements and protests regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas divide opinion and cause concern in the University community. The University of Helsinki will continue its efforts to ensure freedom of speech and expression as well as academic freedom while ensuring safe and secure operations for its community as a whole.  

Further information:

Markus Laitinen
Head of Development, International Affairs
tel. + 358 2941 22605