Strategic plan of the University of Helsinki 2021–2030: With the power of knowledge – for the world

Wave braking in the middle photographed from up

An architect of Bildung and sustainable wellbeing for future generations

The University of Helsinki is a community of research and learning based on courageous thought and dialogue. In 2030, the University will be one of the leading universities in the world. We will be a nationally and internationally recognised stronghold of edification. Our success will be based on in-depth and innovative discipline-specific knowledge, interdisciplinary research and teaching of a high standard.

We will produce cultural and knowledge capital, which will not only draw from research but also from innate maturity, integrity, tolerance and life-long learning. We will consolidate our position as a leading national force and significant international influence known for its initiative and vision in the formulation of science and education policies.

We will meet society’s needs for knowledge. We will generate understanding for the benefit of society through responsible and ethical research and teaching – for the world. As a result, research-based knowledge will increasingly be used to support societal decision-making in 2030. The key challenges of mitigating climate change, preserving biodiversity, using natural resources sustainably, safeguarding health and wellbeing, and maintaining social cohesion can be addressed by making use of the comprehensive research-based knowledge produced by the University.

In 2030, the University of Helsinki will be the best place to study, teach, work and engage in research. The University will be an attractive employer and partner both nationally and internationally. We will develop our operations further based on the model of four campuses. The University will retain its status as a public university.

Sustainability and responsibility will guide all our operations. Our research and teaching will enhance sustainable wellbeing through interaction with the surrounding society.

To be a stronger advocate of Bildung and a dynamic architect of wellbeing, we have adopted the following vision for 2030:

With the power of knowledge – for the world

Groundbreaking basic research, open-minded curiosity and cooperation that transcends boundaries are the requirements for being one of the world’s top academic institutions. In the spirit of global responsibility, we will build a sustainable future by generating knowledge for finding solutions to both local and global issues and thereby benefiting the global community.

We will pursue the following strategic choices to implement our vision:

  1. Knowledge and learning are for everyone.
  2. Openness enhances scientific research and collaboration.
  3. Our University is the best place to study and work.
  4. Our University is a leader in responsibility and sustainability.

Research and education constitute the core of our duties. We will advance our discipline-specific expertise, invest in top-level multidisciplinary and independent basic research, support collaboration between disciplines, and consolidate the link between research and teaching. We will offer opportunities in continuous learning to not only just our degree students. With the help of science education and communication, we will disseminate scientific literacy among various age and demographic groups outside the University.

Openness is a fundamental precondition for the implementation of our core duties. Open science and open-access data will promote the development of research and make research-based knowledge available throughout society. An open operational culture will boost public engagement, create a community that values diverse encounters and provide an environment that helps individuals develop the skills required for ethical, critical and responsible reform.

Our success hinges on a healthy, equal and engaged University community. We will foster and further develop democratic processes at the University and encourage members of the University community to engage in issues involving the whole community. The University will be known as an attractive employer and as a community advocating diversity and dialogue.

We will promote responsibility and sustainability not only in research and teaching, but also in every choice we make. We will actively initiate discussion and fulfil our role as a trendsetter on the way towards a more responsible, equal, tolerant and democratic world.

The University’s values – truth, Bildung, freedom and inclusivity – constitute the foundation of our operations and interaction, while also guiding our choices and reforms.

Truth

  • Leads us to pursue new knowledge
  • Requires critical thinking
  • Promotes high-quality research and teaching

Bildung

  • Guides us on the right path
  • Serves as our moral conscience
  • Cultivates stability and open-mindedness

Freedom

  • Encourages our creativity
  • Affirms the autonomy and responsibility of the University

Inclusivity

  • Safeguards our equality
  • Translates into diversity and respect for others
  • Supports and promotes openness and collaboration
  • Springs from democratic empowerment

      The University’s strength lies in the continuous progress of scientific thought and research skills, which ensures that the quality of research improves and auspicious conditions are created for the production of high-quality publications, international impact and esteemed expertise. The solid link between research and teaching guarantees the high quality of learning. With the help of science education and communication, we will export scientific thought also outside the University, as knowledge belongs to everyone.

      Research themes will renew knowledge and learning

      In line with our values, we will nurture curiosity that is focused on basic research and promote the inherent value and knowledge capital generated by such research. We will further research and learning that will help us better understand and resolve local and global challenges. Our research activities will stand on an ethically sound basis in terms of both objectives and implementation.

      Our multidisciplinary University will develop opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.  During the strategy period, research and teaching will draw inspiration from the following themes:

      • A meaningful life, human wellbeing and a healthy environment
      • A humane and fair world
      • A sustainable and viable future for our globe
      • A universe of ideas and opportunities

      These themes will spur collaboration between fields and disciplines and renew research and learning. Collaboration will require insightful discipline-specific expertise, and interdisciplinary cooperation will lead to novel research directions. The themes not only promote collaboration, but also inspire research and teaching that seek solutions to major global problems.

      Interdisciplinary basic research of a high quality and multidisciplinary themes provide a framework for faculties and other units as well as degree programmes to formulate their own concrete development plans, including the appropriate rechannelling of resources. We will increase funding for research during the strategy period to safeguard its position

      During the strategy period, we will make use of the strengths identified and development suggestions offered in the recent assessment of the University’s research by improving the conditions of in-depth discipline-specific expertise as well as multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.

      We will consolidate research and learning infrastructures

      We will advance the functionality and attractiveness of our research and learning environments in terms of infrastructures, career paths and services. We will promote knowledge and opportunities for its utilisation in society by relying on open science, new research methods and technologies, and by intensifying the long-term development and shared usage of research and learning facilities as well as high-quality infrastructures. We will enhance our competence in the analysis of large and open datasets and further develop related infrastructures.

      Strong connection between teaching and research

      Our teaching is based on high-quality research. During the strategy period, we will strengthen the connection between research and teaching on all levels. Right from the beginning of their studies, students will be actively involved in all activities of the University community, including research, the development of teaching and community relations. The University will support students’ working life skills (including citizen and entrepreneurial skills) by improving related education and intensifying cooperation with relevant partners. We will encourage students to actively engage in cultural and civic activities and to explore the international labour market. We will attend to our national responsibility of educating experts proficient in both Finnish and Swedish.

      Students will actively develop their own competence, career and skills to solve global issues sustainably. The University will support its students in this endeavour. We will together establish an inclusive culture of learning, with equality, openness, respectful encounters and close teacher-student collaboration at its core. A high-standard of teaching and reformed practices will improve the systematic progress of studies as well as employability after graduation. The aim is that by the end of the strategy period, a significantly higher number of students will complete their studies within the target duration for degrees, without affecting the quality of those degrees. The University’s relationship with its alumni will remain close, continuing to provide them with a point of contact with Bildung.

      We will reform learning and promote continuous learning

      We will develop the content of teaching and pedagogical solutions to meet the ongoing changes within research, teaching and society. By combining openness with digital technologies, we will be able to offer new ways of learning and models of cooperation for the needs of students, scholars and society at large. The openness of learning environments and content will increase flexibility related to time, place, methodology and implementation. Studies will be increasingly open to tailoring, and learning will be supported at all stages of studies. We will improve access to learning among groups which currently are underrepresented at universities in order to foster equal opportunities and social mobility.

      The changing labour market underlines the need for new skills and thus increases the need to elevate the level of education throughout society. During the strategy period, we will meet these needs by making use of the connection between research and teaching to significantly increase the number of degrees offered and expand the range of continuous learning offerings within the available resources. Open learning environments and content will support learning and new opportunities in professional life.

      We will make an impact within the scientific community

      We will actively exercise our influence within the higher education sector and the scientific community in Finland and abroad together with other universities, networks and decision-makers. We will intensify collaboration within the UNA Europa alliance and the LERU network, among others. On the national forum, we will advance collaboration with cities and institutions of higher education, particularly those in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Through participation in national and international debate on science and higher education policies, we will be able to have an influence on ongoing changes in research and teaching as well as ensure our successful development in changing social circumstances

      Scientific literacy and knowledge to support decision-making

      By widening the scope and content of science communication and education, we will significantly improve scientific literacy and critical and analytical thinking. We will support researchers and other staff in their communication about their work. Understanding and appreciation of science are prerequisites for our goal of ensuring that research-based knowledge will increasingly be used to support decision-making in 2030.

      Science education has the special aim of making scientific understanding available to social groups with little contact with scientific knowledge. Science education offered to children and young people will promote awareness and the attractiveness of academic studies and research.

      Openness will be instrumental in raising the University to be a forerunner in research, to influence through knowledge and to engage in social debate, while highlighting the University as an attractive place of study and employment as well as an international partner. Openness will be implemented systematically, strategically and responsibly, taking heed of moral principles as well as ethical and legal considerations.

      Openness will promote scientific research and social impact

      Open-access publications and open-access data promote the development of scholarship and increasingly make research accessible to our partners and society while contributing to our shared knowledge capital. We will improve our impact by producing and taking advantage of research information and specialist knowledge and by adopting practices that advance openness in collaboration with the business sector, the public sector and the third sector.

      We will meet the knowledge needs of our stakeholders in order to solve societal issues. Solid and open research as well as interaction with cooperation partners yield wide-ranging added value to society as a whole. Key factors in this include liberal adult education that draws from research, citizen activities and art as well as innovations and results with commercial potential and business activities. We will advance interaction with our alumni in order to boost public awareness of the University and to bolster public engagement.

      Open science will allow us to promote the 2030 Agenda goals of the UN, in particular, democracy, justice, our global responsibility and citizens’ and society’s trust in science. We will also further develop education collaboration in its various forms, including education export, and support the improvement of skills in developing countries by making use of the wide-ranging expertise of the University community. We will actively participate, together with our partners, in the development of internationally competitive knowledge clusters.

      An international outlook will advance our understanding of the world

      We are open to international activities and encourage physical and virtual mobility. During the strategy period, we will strive to take advantage of our increasing international connections and offer our students the opportunity to participate in virtual international mobility during their studies. Our global responsibility and impact will bear fruit through interaction with partners and alumni who share our interest in promoting high-quality research and teaching.

      We will enhance democracy as well as genuine and empathetic diversity in the work community, which springs from respect for and willingness to support every member of the University community. Encouraging supervision and genuinely inclusive leadership will provide opportunities for every member of the University community to engage in issues involving the whole community and experience feelings of success at work.

      We will support the skills development and career progress of students and staff

      The meaningfulness and content of work as well as opportunities to apply one’s creativity and personal skills are the cornerstones on which to build a fulfilling professional career. The University will provide for future skills demands by promoting staff competence in line with the philosophy of continuous learning. We will clarify the career development prospects and career options of our various staff groups. As wellbeing is a holistic phenomenon, we will, in our role as employer, advance flexible practices to support staff in various life situations.

      To support student wellbeing and the accumulation of their expertise, we will further develop the various forms of supervision and guidance to ensure interactive encounters within the University community for each and every student. Clearly expressed objectives that promote learning and interactive participation as a member of the scientific community and their profession will award students with feelings of success and accomplishment and thus boost their wellbeing.

      Our aim is to significantly diminish work-related exhaustion and its risk among members of the University community. This requires a critical examination of our operating culture and the advancement of practices that promote coping at work.

      Openness and inclusivity will offer growth opportunities for members of the University community

      We will operate in accordance with our values and promote an open operating model and low hierarchy so that the best ideas will have the opportunity to shine regardless of who presents them. We will furnish opportunities for growth to ambitious researchers, teachers, experts and students as well as encourage proposals of good ideas, methods and practices. We will transform the University into a genuinely global institution by promoting a culture that invites everyone to put their talent to use. We will continue to actively and openly recruit international students and staff, while also keeping in mind our responsibility for the national languages of Finland as the languages of research and edification.

      A diverse and multilingual community will inspire engagement

      A diverse university safeguards the equality of researchers in all disciplines as well as encourages a dialogue respectful of different opinions. We will ensure that regardless of their language or cultural background, everyone will be able to function as active, full members of the community and advance in their careers. We will also support the integration of international students and staff into the University community and Finnish society by providing instruction in the national languages of Finland. The University will be an example of genuine multilingualism.

      High quality at the core of our operating culture

      The University aspires for the highest possible quality in all its operations. Quality refers to activities that are ethically sustainable and well suited to their purpose of producing high-quality research, degrees and public impact. Every member of the University community contributes to the quality of operations through their work. An operating culture that highlights quality, accompanied by commonly agreed procedures that adhere to the University’s values and objectives, support members of the University community in their work. The measures and methods of quality management will be developed further to ensure the continued improvement of the quality of University operations. As part of quality management, we will develop systematic risk management practices to cover the various organisational levels of the University.

      We will cultivate our global responsibility and sustainable development by actively participating in international debates, projects and the drafting of research programmes and policies. As the knowledge generated by the University will support society in its path towards sustainability, we will be considered a knowledgeable and attractive partner. The goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda will provide a framework for sustainable development and responsible action.

      We will advance ecological sustainability and responsibility

      We will progress towards ecological sustainability by decreasing the carbon footprint of our operations and promoting circular economy as well as by enhancing virtual mobility. We aim to reach carbon neutrality in our operations during the strategy period. Sustainability and responsibility will guide the University community in all procurements, services and reforms. Through our exemplary operating models, we will be a pioneering force in society for sustainable wellbeing.

      The themes of sustainability will be exhaustively integrated into all education programmes to ensure that the University produces experts who will steer the world towards sustainability and responsibility. Our objective for 2030 is to be an attractive multidisciplinary hub of sustainability science and teaching that enjoys international recognition.

      Well-designed digital and physical environments for work, teaching and learning will enhance ecological sustainability and promote encounters with others, support creativity, renew forms of collaboration and improve accessibility.

      Responsible investment activities and financial management will safeguard our operating conditions

      The University serves society, and our operations are largely based on public funding. We will manage our assets carefully through long-term investment activities, with the aim of securing a good return from responsible investments that will grow in value over time. We will continue to bolster our financial self-sufficiency and intensify the efficient use of various funding sources in accordance with our values. To safeguard favourable conditions for operations and reform, we will continue to ensure that our finances rest on a solid foundation through responsible and profitable financial management.

      Our investment activities are guided by the principles for responsible investment activities approved by the University Board. We will be a forerunner and ethical trendsetter of responsible investment activities. During the strategy period, the University will divest its investments in companies producing fossil fuels.

      The University of Helsinki Group will provide continued support to the University and the achievement of its objectives. As a responsible owner, the University will promote the attainment of the sustainability goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda throughout the entire group.

      Knowledge and learning are for everyone

      • The University will enjoy an increasingly established international standing as a scientific partner, especially thanks to its groundbreaking discipline-specific expertise as well as its multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research.
      • Research-based knowledge generated by us will increasingly be used to support societal decision-making.
      • The University will boast high-quality, up-to-date research infrastructures that will be developed proactively and purposefully for long-term and extensive shared use. The University will be an active partner in the utilisation and development of international research infrastructures.
      • The University will operate according to the principles of open science and learning and make its scientific infrastructures and datasets openly available.
      • The University will have significantly enhanced its competence in the analysis of large and open datasets and further developed related infrastructures.
      • The University will boast facilities fit for the purposes of research and teaching, libraries included.
      • A strong connection between research and teaching will have been adopted through the entire University, enabling every degree student to participate in the activities of the research community as part of their studies.
      • Thanks to its teaching of the highest quality, the University will have built a profile as an attractive provider of master’s and doctoral education, and the degrees awarded by the University will better prepare the graduates for a variety of positions.
      • Students’ progress will have become significantly smoother, allowing
      • The University will be an important science educator and communicator.
      • The University will be an acknowledged, attractive and accessible environment of continuous learning which meets the changing educational needs of society.

      Openness enhances scientific research and collaboration

      • The University will be a strong global influence with an extensive network of international alumni and partners.
      • Regardless of language or cultural background, the University will invite everyone to function as active, full members of the community and pave the way for career advancement.
      • The University will have significantly promoted virtual international mobility alongside physical mobility.
      • As a university representing Bildung, we will be a force of growing influence and generate considerable added value to society.
      • Thanks to the University’s strong and responsible business collaboration, innovation activities and other public engagement, research results will be increasingly available to the various sectors of society.
      • The University will be renowned for its practices and procedures based on openness, academic freedom, inclusivity and democratic participation, and will thus serve as an inspiration to its partners

      Our University is the best place to study and work

      • The wellbeing of the University community and its members will have improved, and strides will have been made in equality, non-discrimination and opportunities to participate and make a difference.
      • The University will enjoy the reputation of an attractive employer.

      Our University is a leader in responsibility and sustainability

      • The UN’s sustainable development goals will have been integrated into the University’s operating culture. The University will have significantly stepped up its ecological sustainability and will have achieved carbon neutrality. The theme of sustainability will be comprehensively integrated into the University’s education programmes.
      • The University will be an attractive multidisciplinary hub of sustainability science and teaching that enjoys international recognition. We will actively participate in the formulation of international research programmes and policies while generating knowledge and skills related to sustainable development for the benefit of society.
      • The University will have significantly increased its research funding and will make versatile use of different funding sources in line with its values. The University will have increased its financial leeway by reinforcing its self-sufficiency, and it will boast an extensive national and international donor network.