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The university is located inHelsinki, Finland since 1829, but was founded in the city of Turku (in Swedish Åbo) in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Turku, at that time part of the Swedish Empire. It is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available. Around 36,500 students are currently enrolled in the degree programs of the university spread across 11 faculties and 11 research institutes.
As of August 1, 2005, the University complies with the standards of the Europe-wide Bologna Process and offers Bachelor, Master, Licenciate, and Doctoral degrees. Admission to degree programmes is usually determined by entrance examinations, in the case of bachelor's degrees, and by prior degree results, in the case of master and postgraduate degrees. Entrance is particularly selective (circa 15% of the yearly applicants are admitted). It has been ranked a top 100 university in the world according to the 2015 ARWU, QS and THE rankings.
The university is bilingual, with teaching provided both in Finnish and Swedish. Teaching in English is extensive throughout the university at Master, Licentiate, and Doctoral levels, making it a de facto third language of instruction.
Remaining true to its traditionally strong Humboldtian ethos, the University of Helsinki places heavy emphasis on high-quality teaching and research of a top international standard. It is a member of various prominent international university networks, such as Europaeum, UNICA, the Utrecht Network, and is a founding member of theLeague of European Research Universities.
Faculty of Arts
- produces nationally significant and internationally high-level research on languages, arts, cultures, history, philosophy and gender and area studies
- provides high-quality, research-based teaching on undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels
- offers minor subject studies for students from other faculties
- educates competent researchers capable of broadminded, critical thinking, knowledgeable teachers for schools and academic institutions, and other experts to work e.g. in libraries, media, art and cultural institutions, national and international organisations and in the business world
- fulfils its own part in the university’s broader mission of advancement of education
Faculty of Behavioural Sciences
The mission of the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences is to engage in research and offer the highest education in order to direct and increase understanding about human growth, development, behaviour, learning and activities.
The scientific knowledge produced by the Faculty adds to cultural and social capital, prevents social exclusion and helps manage and direct change.
The Faculty interacts with society on a national and international level. It actively promotes research and the impact of its expertise on social decision-making.
Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law is the leading Finnish institute of legal research and education. The mission of the Faculty is to train qualified, ethically responsible legal professionals for Finnish and international markets through high quality international research and research-based teaching.
Around 2,300 students are pursuing degrees in Finnish, in Swedish and in English on the City Center Campus in the very heart of Helsinki.
Faculty's operations are founded on an international perspective as well as a high standard of research and teaching. Teaching and research at the Faculty is organised by discipline, and members of the teaching and research staff may work in several disciplines.
Faculty of Theology
The Faculty of Theology is committed to researching the significance of religion individually, culturally and socially, in order to provide informed comment on the enourmous challenges facing contemporary Europe, such as religious fundamentalism, multiculturalism, inter-faith dialogue, value pluralism and social welfare.
The Faculty has one of the highest numbers of theology students (ca. 2000) in Europe and is a non-denominational academic community.
Faculty of Social Sciences
The Faculty of Social Sciences is an international multidisciplinary institute providing education in the Finnish, Swedish and English languages.
The Faculty educates experts who are well versed in various social phenomena in different cultures, and who bear responsibility for the promotion of human values both locally and globally.
More than one fourth of those holding a Master’s degree and about one third of those holding a doctorate in the social sciences in Finland are graduates of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Helsinki.
Swedish School of Social Science
The Swedish School of Social Science (SSKH) is an autonomous unit of the University of Helsinki. It is commonly known as “Soc&kom”, from its Swedish name Svenska social- och kommunalhögskolan.
The School offers Bachelor's degree studies s in the fields of Journalism, Social Work and Social Policy, Sociology, Social Psychology, Political Science and Law. The language of instruction and administration is Swedish. Courses in English are also offered. Close to 500 students and 80 staff members study or work at the School. The School also has a research institute and a unit for further education.
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Science is involved in pioneering scientific research aiming for more sustainable future and better quality of life. The focus is on basic research of high international quality. Research and teaching take place on Kumpula Science Campus, the most versatile cluster of scientific competence in the Nordic countries.
Faculty of Medicine
The Faculty of Medicine carries out high-quality multidisciplinary research, trains skilled doctors and dentists, supervises their research-oriented or professionally oriented postgraduate education, and aids researchers and students in establishing international contacts. The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki, together with Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH) and the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), forms the Academic Medical Center Helsinki.
The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki is the only Finnish faculty of medicine that provides instruction in both Finnish and Swedish.
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences with its neighbouring units forms the largest and most prominent scientific and educational unit for life sciences in Finland.
The significance of biological and environmental knowledge for the entire society is increasing. Applications of biosciences play significant role in health care and medical sciences. They also are extremely important in answering to environmental questions such as conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.
Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry promotes the responsible use of renewable natural resources through high-quality applied research, active participation in public debate and education in life sciences and business.
Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry is situated on Viikki campus. The Viikki Science Park is, with more than 6,000 students, one of the largest concentrations of biosciences in the world.
We share the essential values of critical analysis, creativity and the pursuit of truth with the university. In addition, our values include respect for human well-being and the appreciation of nature and the environment.
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine the only institution of higher education in Finland to educate veterinary surgeons. The Faculty is responsible for the basic education of veterinary surgeons in Finland and research as well as for scientific postgraduate studies and vocational further and extension studies.
The aim of the Faculty is to maintain and develop internationally high-quality education and research of veterinary medicine while taking into account changes in the field and the society.
Faculty of Pharmacy
Pharmacy is a multidisciplinary field of science. It specialises in medicinal treatment and studies drugs, medicines and their development, use and effects mainly from the point of view of natural sciences, health sciences, as well as social sciences.
The Faculty of Pharmacy offers Bachelor's, Master's and postgraduate programmes. The Faculty also provides professional postgraduate education in industrial pharmacy for those with a Bachelor or Master's degree in pharmacy and plays an active part in the continuing education in the field.
The Faculty is also nationally responsible for the Swedish-language Master's programmes in Pharmacy.
Royal Academy of Åbo 1640–1828
The first predecessor of the university, The Cathedral School of Åbo, was presumably founded in 1276 for education of boys to become servants of the Church. As the university was founded in 1640 by Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689) in Turku(Sw. Åbo). It was the third university founded in the Swedish Empire.
Imperial Alexander University in Finland 1828–1919
The second period of the University's history covers the period when Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire, from 1809 to 1917. As Finland became part of the Russian Empire in 1809, Emperor Alexander I expanded the University and allocated substantial funds to it. Following the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, higher education within the country was moved to Helsinki, the new administrative heart of the Grand Duchy, in 1828, and renamed the Imperial Alexander University in Finland in honour of the late benefactor of the University. In the capital the primary task of the University was to educate the Grand Duchy’s civil servants. The University became a community subscribing to the new Humboldtian ideals of science and culture, studying humanity and its living environment by means of scientific methods.
The Alexander University was a centre of national life that promoted the birth of an independent Finnish State and the development of Finnish identity. The University became a major center of Finnish cultural, political, and legal life in 19th century Finland, and became a remarkable primum mobile of the nationalist and liberal cultural movements, political parties, and student organisations.
In the 19th century university research changed from being collection-centred to being experimental, empirical, and analytical. The more scientific approach of the university led to specialisation and created new disciplines. As the scientific disciplines developed, Finland received ever more scholarly knowledge and highly educated people, some of whom entered rapidly evolving industry or the government.
University of Helsinki 1919–present
The third period of the university's history began with the creation of the independent Republic of Finland in 1917, and with the renaming of the university as the University of Helsinki. Once Finland gained her independence in 1917 the University was given a crucial role in building the nation state and, after World War II, the welfare state. Members of the academic community promoted the international relations of the new state and the development of its economic life. Furthermore, they were actively involved in national politics and the struggle for equality.
In the 20th century, scholarly research at the University of Helsinki reached the level of the European elite in many disciplines.
After World War II, University research focused on improving Finnish living conditions and supporting major changes in the structure of society and business. The University also contributed to the breakthrough of modern technology.
The progress of scientific development created many new disciplines and faculties. At present the University comprises 11 faculties, 500 professors and almost 40,000 students. The University has established as its goal to further its position as one of Europe’s top multidisciplinary research universities.
Depending on the method of calculation used, there are approximately between 18,000 and 23,000 universities in the world. On average, the University of Helsinki rank in the top 1% of the world's research universities.
There are approximately 4,000 universities in Europe. On average, the University of Helsinki ranks among the top 40 European universities, or in the top percentile.
Only a handful of Nordic universities are ranked among the global top 100. On average, the University of Helsinki ranks among the top five Nordic universities.
Finland has 14 universities, of which the University of Helsinki is ranked the best in key general rankings.
The University of Helsinki defines quality as expedient operations and high-quality results. The University’s quality culture manifests itself in the high commitment of the staff and students to their work and studies. The staff and students collaborate in accordance with the values and objectives of the University and adhere to common policies. They also share good practices and engage in continuous evaluation. The University’s quality system provides the necessary structures and defines the procedures and responsibilities for well-functioning quality management.