The story of the University of Helsinki

Up north on the top of the world, there is an innovative centre of science and thinking.  One of the best multidisciplinary universities in the world – The University of Helsinki.

We are the cradle of Finnish civilization. Since 1640 we have contributed significantly to Finnish prosperity and national identity. We have built a fair and an equal society that by many indicators is considered one of the best in the world.

Today we want to share our knowledge and to have a strong global impact. As a multidisciplinary university, we solve challenges that affect us all. Truth, the exploration for new knowledge and boundary-breaking research create opportunities that shape the future of our planet.

Our radical openness combined with active, international co-operation make the University of Helsinki’s impact global. We passionately believe that with the power of thought we can change attitudes, people and society – for the world.

As a multidisciplinary university, the University of Helsinki seeks solutions to problems that involve each and every one of us. Our radical openness combined with active, international co-operation make the University of Helsinki’s impact global. We passionately believe that with the power of thought we can change attitudes, people and society – for the world.

Watch our story to get to know us, our values and our goals.

The University of Helsinki was founded by a 13-year-old girl.  The world learned to know her as Christina, queen of Sweden.  At the time of its establishment, the university was a small and modest academic community with 11 professors and 250 students. Lutheran theology and European humanism were taught to the future priests and officials.

During the 19th century the university became the centre of national awakening. The image of Finland, its history, culture and language were born. Both the national anthem and the Finnish flag were created in the university. The University of Helsinki has always been a significant contributor to the Finnish civilization and prosperity. We have educated nine presidents and thousands of people at the top of politics, science, culture and economics.  Not to mention four Nobel prize winners.

Our success as a top university is not counted in years but in decades. Come good times or bad times, our focus is always in the future. 

Our northern location and rugged nature have made us survivors. Life at the top of the world demands solution-based thinking, openness and the ability to cooperate.

We create things that work and get things done. We recognise that the world is complex, but we provide clarity and realistic answers for intricate questions. And we are famously stubborn. This helps us in designing everyday solutions that work. We find solutions with profound effects that ripple through generations. Our expertise, attitude and aspirations are combined in a blend that just happens to be what the world aspires to.

Today, the University of Helsinki is doing pioneering multidisciplinary research with 11 faculties and 40,000 students and researchers.  We are one of the best. We rank within the top 1% of world’s research universitities.

We Finns believe in a fair society. Our leading thought is that even a small country will succeed if everyone can make it. Be it health, education or technology, we create solutions for many rather than for a few. We invest in, share and try new ideas that promote progress and wellbeing for the whole society, regardless of people’s backgrounds.

The roots of the excellent Finnish school system and the national health care were planted in our university. These are great examples of the social justice and the sustainable living environment that all of us can enjoy.

Transparency, equality and justice guide us in everything we do. We at the University of Helsinki believe in radical openness – open science, open data and open innovations. Sharing knowledge  empowers economic, social and cultural change. This is humanity as its best.

Our most important values are truth and critical thinking. They are also things the world needs right now. The University of Helsinki is building a better and more sustainable world by involving itself actively in the resolution of global problems. Our complex world demands multidisciplinary answers.

We are known as the pioneer of climate research. Our global air quality measurement network benefits the entire planet. Cancer treatment mechanisms are understood better than ever thanks to our research. Our clinical biobank forms the basis for world-class genetic research. We are the best in the world in teaching teachers and pioneers in understanding big data. 

We work for a fairer, healthier and more secure world. But we cannot do this alone. To make this happen, we ask you to join us in our efforts to bring hope for the globe.