Year 2019 an academic success for the University of Helsinki – Overall result positive thanks to investments
The number of degrees completed at the University of Helsinki grew in 2019. As budgeted, the operating result was €35 million in deficit.

A total of 31,600 students were enrolled at the University of Helsinki in 2019, completing 6,100 degrees, an increase of 600 degrees from the year before. The number of completed doctoral degrees also grew. This phenomenon was an expected result of the transition period related to the degree programme reform approaching its end.

Roughly a quarter of first- and second-cycle degrees were completed in the target duration for degrees, in addition to which completion times appear to have slightly shortened. Within a year of the target duration, as many as roughly half of unfinished degrees were completed.

The number of non-degree students has continued to grow: the Open University had approximately 3,000 more students than in the previous year. Elements of AI, a very popular online course on artificial intelligence, offers a partial explanation, but changes in student admissions have also had an effect.

Open-access publishing increasing in prevalence

The number of completed publications was nearly 11,000, with growth seen in the number of peer-reviewed scientific publications from the previous year. Measures to promote open-access publishing have borne fruit: already almost 60% of all scientific articles were published in open-access channels or self-archived in the University of Helsinki publication archive.

Researchers of the University of Helsinki were again successful in applying for funding from the European Research Council (ERC): grants were awarded to 10 researchers, in addition to which the University is participating in one project as a partner.

Overall result positive thanks to investments

The University’s operating result, or the result without taking investment activities into account, was €35 million in deficit. This result is in line with the budget and forecasts. Last year investments, or the price changes of securities, were so profitable that the University’s overall result was €15 million in the black. 

University of Helsinki operating result 2010–2019 and forecast for 2020–2023

Forecast made before the coronavirus crisis


“To safeguard the University's operating conditions and potential for renewal, we need responsible and profitable financial management. Bolstering our financial self-sufficiency is also important, as outlined in our new strategic plan,” Rector Jari Niemelä says.

At the end of 2019, the number of employees was a little over 8,100, of whom more than 4,600 were teachers and researchers. Staff costs constituted almost two-thirds of overall expenses. Another considerable expense are the facilities required for studying, research and other activities.

University of Helsinki revenues and expenses 2019


Investment activities boost self-sufficiency

In summer 2019 the Board of the University approved the Principles for responsible investment activities. On 28 April 2020 the University published its first report on responsible investments.

According to the principles, the University invests responsibly, for example, by divesting investments in businesses that produce fossil fuels. Additionally, the goal for investment activities is to ensure that they yield good returns and positive performance in the long run, boost the University’s financial self-sufficiency, and guarantee continuous returns for donations.

Fundraising is a way to improve the financial self-sufficiency of the University and gain funds in support of research and studying. In 2020 a new match-funding term funded by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the Ministry of Education and Culture will begin. Match-funding means that additional funding will be awarded from dedicated funds by applying a coefficient to donations raised by the University.

Outlook for 2020

In late February and early March, the spread of the coronavirus and the oil price war caused a huge plunge in the stock markets. The University applies a long-term approach to investing and is prepared for even dramatic price changes. The returns generated by the value increase of securities in recent years have not been spent to fund University operations. Now, this accumulated surplus is diminishing. Nevertheless, the University’s overall result in 2020 will most likely be in the red, due to the falling prices.

Read more:

University of Helsinki financial statement for 2019 (in Finnish)
Graphs on the University’s finance
Annual Review 2019 available on May 4, 2020