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University Main Building (Front).

The University of Helsinki ( , ) is a university located in Helsinkimarker, Finlandmarker since 1829, but founded in the city of Turkumarker in 1640 as The Royal Academy of Turku, then part of the Swedish Empire. It is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available. Around 38,000 students (though many are not Full-Time in the conventional sense) 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 is usually determined by entrance examinations, in the case of bachelor degrees, and by prior degree results, in the case of master and postgraduate degrees. Entrance is rather selective (circa 15% of the yearly applicants are admitted).

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 an internationally formidable standard. It is a member of various prominent international university networks, such as LERU, UNICA, the Utrecht Network, and Europaeum. Consequently, the university is reckoned to be in the highest tier of Europe's universities.


University of Helsinki (Main Building)

For the early history (1640-1809), see the main article Royal Academy of Turku
The university was founded by Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689) in Turkumarker, as the Royal Academy of Turku ( ). It was the third university founded in the Swedish Empire, following Uppsala Universitymarker and the Academia Gustavianamarker in Dorpatmarker (predecessor to the University of Tartumarker in Estoniamarker).

In 1809, Finland became an autonomous grand duchy in subjugation to imperial Russiamarker, wherefore the name of the academy in Turku was modified to the Imperial Academy of Turku. Following the Great Fire of Turku in 1827 and the removal of the capital to Helsinki, the university was relocated there starting from 1829 and Nicholas I re-named it the Imperial Alexander University of Finland in honour of his late brother and predecessor Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who had increased the resources of the academy. The university was the center of Finnish cultural, political, and legal life in the 19th century, and became a remarkable primum mobile of the nationalist and liberal cultural movements, political parties, and student activities. It was named the University of Helsinki after Finland became independent in 1917.


The university is located on four main campuses. Originally, the entire university was located in the very centre of Helsinki, but due to the rapid growth of the university since the 1930s, premises have been built and acquired in other areas.

The historical City Centre Campus has been the hub of activity ever since the university moved from Turku to Helsinki in the early 19th Century. The campus has a central location and reflects the architectural style of this part of the city. The university buildings in the city center house the Faculties of Theology, Law, Arts, Behavioural Sciences and Social Sciences plus administrative functions. Most of the buildings on the campus have a major architectural significance ranging from the dominating Neo-Classical, through the Jugendstil, to 20th Century Modernism.

The Kumpula Campusmarker, housing the Faculty of Science, is located four kilometers north from the centre of Helsinki near tram lines 6 and 8.

The Meilahti Campus, with the Faculty of Medicine, is a part of the Meilahtimarker Hospital District on the edge of the city centre.

The Viikki Campusmarker is located in the semi-suburban greenspace of the Viikkimarker area, some 8 kilometres north-east of the city centre. It houses the Faculties of Agriculture and Forestry, Biosciences, Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy.
Helsinki University Library (Front)


The Main Building (Päärakennus) of the university, which was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, was completed in 1832. It is located next to the Senate Squaremarker in the heart of Helsinki's neoclassical centre, facing the Cathedral and the Government's Palace. Most of the important buildings in the City Centre Campus, such as the University Library (Kansalliskirjasto), the Observatory and several faculty buildings, are also designed by Engel.


The university is divided into eleven faculties. They are listed below in the official order used by the university, reflecting both the history of the university and the hierarchy of disciplines at the time when the university was established:

The university also comprises several independent institutes, such as research centres and libraries, the most notable of which is perhaps the National Library of Finlandmarker.

Research institutes

Research institutes within the university include the following:

Student Union

The Student Union of the University of Helsinkimarker (Helsingin yliopiston ylioppilaskunta, HYY) was founded in 1868. It currently has 32,000 members and is one of the world's richest student organizations, with assets of several hundred million euros. Among other things, it owns a good deal of property in the city centre of Helsinki. The union has been at the centre of student politics from the 19th Century nationalist movements, through the actions of the New Left in the 1960s, up to the present. Its governing assembly consists of parties which are connected to faculty organisations, the Student Nations, and the mainstream political parties.

Notable People and Alumni

Behavioural Science Faculty, Siltavuorenpenger 20

See also


  1. Bologna Process at the University of Helsinki.[1]
  2. Helsingin Sanomat, International Edition – Metro, 2.3.2006. "Assay finds research at University of Helsinki is of high international standard".[2]
  3. UNICA = "Institutional Network of the Universities from the Capitals of Europe".
  4. University of Helsinki – "Top Research" Publication.[3]
  5. Helsinki University – International Affairs Office.[4]
  6. [5]

External links


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