Nearly 29,000 prospective students applied to the University of Helsinki

The total number of applicants grew slightly from the previous year. There was a notable increase in the number of applications submitted through the Open University route thanks to the DEFA project in computer science.

There were a total of 28,870 applicants to the University (28,780 in 2018), of whom 27,532 applied to bachelor’s programmes (27,741 in 2018) and 1,677 to master’s programmes (1,325 in 2018). The application period for this spring’s joint application procedure closed on 3 April.

This was also the end date for the application period to the first English-language bachelor’s programme at the University of Helsinki, the Bachelor's Programme in Science. Some applicants to the programme already submitted their applications in December and January, the rest applied through the joint application procedure. The total number of applicants to the programme was 144.

The number of applicants to bachelor's programmes grew, among others, at the Swedish School of Social Science, as well as in psychology, computer science and agricultural sciences. In psychology, entrance examination cooperation expanded to several universities, which most likely affected applicant numbers. A particular cause for the increase in applications to master’s programmes was the establishment of a new programme, the Master’s Programme in Social and Health Research and Management.

Pronounced growth in applications through the Open University route

The application period for the Open University route, separate from the joint application procedure, also closed. A total of 236 applications were received through the route, an increase of 62% compared to the previous year.

The primary reason for this growth was the DEFA (Digital Education For All) project. In the project, students have the opportunity to supplement their skills in computer science and even gain a study right for the Bachelor's Programme in Computer Science. Gaining such a right requires strong commitment and industrious studying in the project for a year as a student of the Open University.

“This is first tangible evidence of the trial’s success and that it should be continued. The hard-working and motivated students as well as the teachers who boldly took up the challenge must be thanked,” says University Lecturer Kjell Lemström, who heads the project.

Applicant numbers and available places by degree programme have been published on the University website. More detailed statistics on gender and language distribution, the number of first-time applicants and applicants with the University as their first choice, as well as other factors will be compiled for each degree programme next week, followed by their publication on the same website.

Applicants benefit from joint aptitude test

The Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, is taking part in piloting a joint application procedure for teacher training, also comprising a joint aptitude test, together with the University of Eastern Finland and Åbo Akademi University.

“The pilot universities will simultaneously hold identical aptitude tests whose assessment will be strictly standardised,” explains Vice-Dean Anu Laine.

For applicants, the reform means that applicants to the University of Helsinki whose aptitude test score is not sufficient to be admitted to the University may be admitted to the University of Eastern Finland or Åbo Akademi University if the score meets the admissions criteria of those institutions.

Previously this has not been possible, as all universities have so far organised their own aptitude tests and conducted the admissions process independently. In 2020, the aptitude test stage is expected to be extended to the joint application procedure of all Finnish universities.

A new route to university from 2020 onwards: certificate-based admissions

The Ministry of Culture and Education has laid down a policy according to which admissions based on the Finnish matriculation examination or equivalent international examinations will be the primary route to higher education by 2020. For example, in the field of law the share of students admitted on the basis of certificates will be 40% beginning in 2020. In the physical sciences, chemistry and the mathematical sciences, 97% of student admissions will be based on certificates. The shares of students admitted on the basis of certificates and related scoring details are available on the Studyinfo service (in Finnish only).

In future, it will still be possible to apply to universities through alternative routes that are not based on certificates. The University of Helsinki has decided that at least one alternative application option in addition to certificate-based admissions must be available for its bachelor’s programmes. Many of the University's bachelor’s programmes receive a lot of applications, and entrance examinations will remain a route to most bachelor’s programmes in the coming years.

For more information, please contact

Sini Saarenheimo, head of services, Admissions Services,, phone +358 50 448 0840