The University of Helsinki in Brief

The University of Helsinki is the oldest and largest institution of academic education in Finland, an international scientific community of 40,000 students and researchers. In international university rankings, the University of Helsinki typically ranks among the top 100. The University of Helsinki seeks solutions for global challenges and creates new ways of thinking for the best of humanity. Through the power of science, the University has contributed to society, education and welfare since 1640.

The University of Helsinki is the only Finnish university to consistently rank in the top 100 of international university rankings. There are approximately 18 000 universities in the world.

In 2017, the University of Helsinki placed 56th in the Shanghai Ranking, 90th in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking and 102th in the QS World University Ranking and 81th in the Taiwan (NTU) ranking.

Read more: What is a university ranking?

The University’s core duties are research, teaching and their support through community relations.


The University of Helsinki aims to produce research of a high international standard in all fields. Research provides the University’s scholars with solid expertise to participate in the development of society and the business sector in various national and regional cooperation projects. The University of Helsinki is a member of more than half of all national and Nordic centres of excellence in research. It is also the only Finnish university to have received an invitation to join the League of European Research Universities (LERU), which is an association of the leading research-intensive universities in Europe.

The University allocates funding to research based on competition and evaluation. Special emphasis is placed on multidisciplinary initiatives within basic research. About half of the research conducted at the University of Helsinki is financed from the University’s operating expenses and the other half from external funding sources.


Teaching at the University of Helsinki is based on research. The underlying principle is that every teacher does research and every researcher teaches. According to an international evaluation, teaching at the University of Helsinki is of a high European standard. As a research-intensive university, the University of Helsinki encourages most of its students to complete a second-cycle degree. The great variety of minor subject options continues to be an important component in the high quality of degrees completed at the University. The Open University offers teaching in accordance with the degree requirements of the University of Helsinki, and University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+ provides professional education programmes in the various fields represented at the University.


The University of Helsinki is a responsible social force, an advocate of science and scholarship, and a valued partner. The University boasts an extensive network of partners, including its alumni and friends, donors and funders, foundations and civic organisations, businesses and the media as well as political decision-makers and civil servants in the public sector.

The University’s social engagement is manifested through its core duties of research and teaching, in addition to which the University and members of the University community interact with the surrounding society in numerous ways.

Interaction with the University enhances the operational conditions of its partners, the business sector and the society at large. Graduates serving as experts in various fields constitute the University’s most significant contribution to society. The University’s representatives are consulted by decision-makers, participate in public debate and provide research information for public use. Productive, well-functioning partnerships generate solutions to the great challenges facing not only Finnish society, but societies globally.

In 2017, a total of 31,312 students of all levels were enrolled at the University of Helsinki. Of them, 19,826 were women, a ratio of 63.3%. The number of  international students was 1,872 (6%).

First Cycle or Bachelor's degree:  16,861 students, of whom women 10,455 (62%) and men 6,406 (38%)

Second Cycle or Master's degree: 9,783 students, of whom women 6,478 (66.2%) and 3,305 (33.8%)

Licentiate's degree: 175 students, of whom women 128 (73.1%) and men 47 (26.9%)

Doctoral degree: 4,323  students, of whom women  2,605 (60.3%) and men 1,718 (39.7%)

Other degrees: 170 students, of whom women 160  (94.1%) and men 10 (5.9%)

In 2017, a total of 6,055 degrees were completed at the University of Helsinki. Women completed 4,171 (68.9%) of these degrees.

First Cycle or Bachelor’s degree: 2,910 degrees, of which 2,027 (69.7%) completed by women and 883 (30.3%) by men.

Second Cycle or Master’s degree: 2,603 degrees, of which 1,792 (68.8%) completed by women and 811 (31.2%) by men.

Licentiate degree: 44 degrees, of which 33 (75%) completed by women and 11 (25%) by men.

Doctoral degree: 475 degrees, of which 298 (62.7%) completed by women and 177 (37.3 %) by men.

Other degrees: 23 degrees, of which 21 (91.3%) completed by women and 2 (8.7%) by men.

The University of Helsinki employs 7,783 people in 2017. Of them, 56 % represent teaching and research staff. 50 % of them are women.

The total number of person years was 7,205, and 3,953 of them were spent on teaching and research.

University of Helsinki's  employee's average age is 42.5 years and the average age of retirement is 65.4.

Teaching and Research Staff

Altogether 4,383 persons (3,953 person years) during year 2017.

581 professors, research directors and senior curators (level 4)
1,342 university lecturers, clinical teachers, university researchers, senior researchers, research co-ordinators, intendants, assistant professors (tenure track) (level 3)
981 post-doctoral researchers, university instructor (level 2)
1,292 doctoral students, specialising physician/dentist/veterinarian, research and teaching assistants (level 1)
187 other teaching and research staff

Other staff

Altogether 3,256 persons (3,119 person years) during year 2017.

279 IT staff
279 library staff
306 technical staff
1,174 administrative staff
1,049 teaching and research support staff
169 others

144 Teaching school's teachers

In 2017, University of Helsinki researchers produced 11,446 publications. Of peer-reviewed academic publications half are produced as international cooperation.

Publications ( number and % of all)

7,000 Peer reviewed scientific articles (61%)
1,247  Non-refereed scientific articles (11%)
239 Scientific books (monographs, edited works) (2%)
1,983 Publications intended for professional communities (17%)
977 Publications intended for the general public (9%)

Find out more about the University of Helsinki’s publications

The University of Helsinki is the only Finnish university to be a member of the League of European Research Universities, or LERU, an association of 23 leading European universities promoting the conditions and opportunities for basic research in Europe.

Of the University of Helsinki’s teachers and researchers, 24% are from outside Finland. The University had 1,872 international degree students in 2017.

674 students embarked on a student exchange in 2017. The University of Helsinki received 1,252 incoming exchange students.

Financing of the University of Helsinki during year 2017 (million euros, (%))

  • Core funding by state                                         403 (57%)
  • External funding                                                  258 (37%)
  • Investment and fund raising (own income)    43   (6%)
  • Total earnings                                                    704 (100%)

The Uni­versity’s key fin­an­cial fig­ures

Fin­an­cial state­ments of the university


The University of Helsinki was established in Turku in 1640, and the University continues to celebrate its anniversary on the date of the establishment of the Royal Academy of Turku, 26 March. The University moved to Helsinki during Finland’s Russian rule in 1828, and when Finland gained its independence, it was renamed the University of Helsinki.

The Royal Academy of Turku was one of the four national universities of the Swedish realm at the time. Its academic community comprised 11 professors and 250 students. Teaching and research was connected to Lutheran theology and European humanism. Research topics of the time included the structure of the universe, the nature of matter, the rules of mechanics and the resources of the earth.

After Finland became a part of Imperial Russia in 1809, the University was dramatically expanded. The Imperial Alexander University became a Humboldtian university of science and edification which studied humanity and its environment through the scientific method.

Once Finland gained its independence in 1917, the University assumed a central role in building the nation state and its welfare. Members of the University community promoted the fledgling state’s international interaction and economic development.