|University of Helsinki|
|Latin: Universitas Helsingiensis|
|Endowment||562 million EUR|
|Location|| Helsinki, Finland
The University of Helsinki (Finnish: Helsingin yliopisto, Swedish: Helsingfors universitet, Latin: Universitatis Helsingiensis) is a university located in Helsinki, Finland since 1829, but was founded in the city of Turku 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 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.
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 particularly 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 Europaeum, UNICA, the Utrecht Network, and is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities. Consequently, the university is reckoned to be in the very highest tier of Europe's universities.
The university was founded by Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689) in Turku, as the Royal Academy of Turku (Latin: Regia Academia Aboensis). It was the third university founded in the Swedish Empire, following Uppsala University and the Academia Gustaviana in Dorpat (predecessor to the University of Tartu in Estonia).
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, Tsar 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 of 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 new statutes of the University enacted in 1828 defined the task of the University as promoting the development of “the Sciences and Humanities within Finland and, furthermore, educating the youth for the service of the Tsar and the Fatherland”.
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 great men of 19th Century Finland, Johan Vilhelm Snellman, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Elias Lönnrot and Zachris Topelius, were all involved in the activities of the University. 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.
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 Two, the welfare society. 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. This was manifested, among other things, by international recognitions granted to its professors, such as the Fields medal received by the mathematician Lars Ahlfors (1936), the Nobel Prize in Chemistry granted to Professor A.I. Virtanen (1945) and the Nobel Prize in Medicine shared by Professor Ragnar Granit (1967).
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 the University of Helsinki. At present the University comprises 11 faculties, 500 professors and almost 40,000 students. The University has established as its goal to be one of Europe’s top multidisciplinary research universities.
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 Campus, housing the Faculty of Science, is located four kilometers north from the centre of Helsinki near tram lines 6 and 8.
The Viikki Campus is located in the semi-suburban greenspace of the Viikki area, some 8 kilometres north-east of the city centre. It houses the Faculties of Agriculture and Forestry, Biosciences, Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy.
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 Square 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 Finland.
Research institutes within the university include the following:
The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (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.