Top Research

In 2019 an international assessment panel found that the University of Helsinki conducts high-quality, high-impact research. Our performance is excellent, particularly when considering the population base and resources and compared to other Finnish and international universities.

This page offers you information on indicators of research quality and some of the University’s most successful researchers and research groups.

The latest extensive assessment of research quality was completed at the University of Helsinki in 2019. The assessment was carried out by panels of independent international experts, who found that the University of Helsinki carries out top-level research at all its campuses.

For the purposes of the assessment, the University’s units were divided into four groups: the humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences and the life sciences. The assessment results demonstrate that the University’s research meets the highest academic standards. The panels also deemed the societal impact and public engagement of the units to be excellent or very good.

One of the most highly respected providers of research funding is the European Research Council (ERC), set up by the European Union. Its purpose is to promote multidisciplinary research with long-term competitive research grants.

The ERC awards funding to three main groups:

  1. promising young researchers (Starting Grant)
  2. accomplished researchers with 7–12 years of research experience (Consolidator Grant)
  3. advanced researchers at the peak of their career (Advanced Grant)

Additionally, the ERC funds ambitious cooperative research projects between universities (Synergy Grant) and the commercialisation on top research (Proof of Concept).

University of Helsinki researchers have received a total of more than 70 ERC grants, of which 40 are for currently ongoing projects. 

The quality and impact of research is increasingly being assessed based on calculations and analyses of the number of times researchers cite each other’s publications. Citation numbers are documented particularly carefully in the natural and life sciences.

The quality of research cannot be measured by citation numbers alone, although they can be easily quantified. However, the most cited researchers are undoubtedly among the very best in their field.

The University of Helsinki coordinates seven of the 12 Centres of Excellence selected by the Academy of Finland for the period 2018–2025.

The Centres of Excellence operating at the University of Helsinki in the above period investigate cancer, stem cells, mathematical modelling, space and sustainability, disease genetics, ancient empires and the European identity.

Centres of Excellence are at the very cutting edge of science in their fields. They have clear objectives and are run under a joint management. Funding is provided for an eight-year term, enabling long-term research in complex subjects.

The goal of the Academy’s Centre of Excellence programmes is to bring together several research groups into extensive programmes focusing on a single topic so as to renew research, develop research environments and educate new talented researchers, responding to society’s needs.

Academy Professors are internationally recognised leaders in their fields. The Academy of Finland appoints them based on their proven ability to develop research and contribute to a creative research environment.

The Academy of Finland appoints Academy Professors each year for a fixed term of five years. At present, there are 33 Academy Professors, of whom 16 work at the University of Helsinki.

In the 2017–2020 strategy period, the University of Helsinki is building its profile and addressing four major challenges: 

  • The digital world
  • Ageing and health
  • Globalisation
  • Sustainable development

The purpose of the strategic research areas of the University of Helsinki is to clarify its research profile and guide research in a multidisciplinary and solution-centred direction. The University’s three strategic research areas for the period 2017–2020 are:

  • Life sciences
  • The human mind in a changing world
  • The structure of matter and materials science

In most global university rankings, the University of Helsinki ranks in the top 50–100. Such rankings are contentious, but they reveal something about the quality of research. 

Depending on the method of calculation used, there are approximately 18,000–23,000 higher education institutions in the world, which means the University of Helsinki is in the top 0.5%.