The effect of coronavirus on your studies - Q&A

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Page updated October 21 at 7.40: New guidelines for fall teaching, general guidelines for spring 2021 teaching.

This page is updated with current information related to the COVID-19 coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki, especially regarding studies. 

Regarding the coronavirus, the University always follows the instructions given by the authorities. Up-to-date information can be followed on the University website: Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki.

The University’s website has a list of faculty- and unit-specific instructions on coronavirus. You can find up-to-date information about your faculties coronavirus measures from there.

Current situation

  • Faculties and degree programmes are urged to transition all teaching online, with the exception of any necessary contact instruction (laboratory and practical subjects, as well as examinations at the discretion of response centres). 
  • The majority of guidance and support services will be conducted remotely during the autumn semester. However, some of the Student Service points are open with limited opening hours, taking safety precautions into consideration. More information about the opening hours can be found on the Student Services page.
  • Reading and study spaces in Kaisa House and in the Meilahti Campus Library are open with appropriate safety arrangements. Learning centres Aleksandria and Minerva are also open, aside from night use. Please check the opening hours and services of the University libraries on the library's website.

Ob­serving com­mon rules re­mains the top pri­or­ity in pre­vent­ing the spread of the coronavirus  

  • Do not come to the campuses when ill or when experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus disease Assess your need for testing here: Omaolo service.
  • Be sure to practise extremely careful hand and coughing hygiene.
  • Leave room for others, and always keep a distance of one to two metres from others, whenever possible.
  • Do not shake hands or hug people.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact. In other words, meet in person only when necessary. 
  • Mask use is recommended in all teaching situations, independent study as well as guidance and supervision situations. The use of protective face masks is strongly recommended for everyone visiting public University premises. In laboratory teaching, mask use is required. Read the latest information on masks on the University's website. 
  • Please remember to clean any equipment in joint use after using it. Overall, cleaning activities at the University have been intensified.
  • Remember to register especially for contact teaching courses on time, because in the case of a coronavirus exposure, the tracing of students will be done mainly based on the registration lists in WebOodi.
  • The University of Helsinki also recommends using the Koronavilkku contact tracing app, so that possible exposures to the virus are easier to trace and the virus can be prevented from spreading
  • Finnish institute for health and welfare (THL) has comprised a bulletin where they instruct students how to participate in student life safely during the coronavirus situation. THL e.g. recommends that events are organised remotely, meetings will be conducted outside instead of indoors and gatherings will be kept small.

Feeling ill or worried about coronavirus

What should I do if I feel ill?

Stay home until you get better. Notify your teacher of any absences as usual. If you suspect you have been infected by or exposed to the coronavirus, check your symptoms using the Omaolo app or contact your local health care provider. Do not come to the University premises before receiving the test result.

At the moment, the university does not require medical evidence of illness from students, and the student health service (YTHS) does not issue sick leave certificates for the time being. In other words, a student may be absent from teaching by his or her own declaration.

Check also FSHS's Instructions for the coronavirus situation.

What should I do if I have coronavirus?

If you get a positive result from a coronavirus test, the health officials will call you, give a quarantine order and ask about your recent contacts and possible exposures.

If you have participated in contact teaching or visited the University premises while infectious:

  • Give the healthcare official the contact information of the teachers responsible for your contact teaching classes. Additionally, tell them in which University facilities you have been to (e.g. Unicafes, self-studying spaces), with whom (if you know) and when.The authorities will contact the University.   
  • Notify the teachers of your courses and tell them when you have participated in contact teaching.The exposed students will be contacted without addressing the identity of the infected student.

If you have the Koronavilkku application and have been exposed to the virus, please follow the instructions on the app.

What if I am notified about a possible exposure to the virus? 

If you have been exposed to the coronavirus, follow the instructions set by the health officials.
Monitor your condition and avoid close contact with other people. Do not come to the University premises during the next 10 days (incubation period). If needed, discuss remote studying options with your teachers.

Where can I find information on how to deal with the worry caused by the coronavirus situation?

We have gathered information about supporting services that can you help you deal with the worry and anxiety caused by the coronavirus on the instruction page Mental well-being.

Teaching and assessment

How will teaching be arranged in the fall term 2020?

Faculties and degree programmes are urged to transition all teaching online until the end of year, with the exception of any necessary contact instruction (laboratory and practical subjects, as well as examinations at the discretion of response centres). 

Safe social distancing should be observed and face masks used in all contact teaching. 

The University's information session on August 17 focused on instructions related to beginning the autumn term. The session's recording is available on Think Corner's website. Information session materials on teaching arrangements (pdf).

How have at-risk groups been taken into account in the situations where remote teaching is not possible?

If organising contact teaching is necessary, at-risk groups should be offered independent study options whenever possible. In these situations the student may be absent from teaching by notifying the teacher responsible for the course.

Will the remote teaching recommendation be still valid for spring 2021?

Yes, teaching, supervision, guidance, and examinations will, as a rule, continue to be provided remotely in spring term 2021. Contact teaching and on-site examinations can be organised primarily for groups of no more than 50 individuals. Safety guidelines must be observed: everyone is expected to practise social distancing and good hand hygiene, wear a face mask, and make sure that they do not enter the campuses when ill. 

Contact teaching can be organised if instruction cannot be provided remotely without significantly compromising the quality of learning and learning outcomes. To support the sense of community among student groups, contact teaching is recommended during different stages of the students' studies, if possible.The overall amount of contact teaching must not significantly exceed the amount of contact teaching provided during autumn term 2020.

Can attendance in teaching be required?

The student must participate actively in teaching. In the study programme's curriculum attendance can be defined mandatory if it is pedagogically justified or teaching arrangements require it. Mandatory attendance can apply to a singular study module or its part. 

Compulsory class attendance does not apply to contact teaching, unless the completion method in question requires physical presence (such as laboratory courses, patient encounters, skills courses). Degree programmes will determine substituting procedures for such courses.   

Whenever possible, students in at-risk groups must be offered independent study alternatives. No verification is required from students for at-risk notifications.  

Attendance in remote teaching sessions may be required as specified in the curriculum. 

How can I act responsible at the University facilities during contact teaching?

You can find the safety instructions for University premises from the section University facilities and services under the question How can I study safely at the University?

Where can I get information on cancelled teaching or changes to methods of completion (e.g., from contact teaching to distance teaching)?

Information on any changes is mainly available on course pages and in the study programme of the Open University. Your course teacher will communicate of any changes.

What if teaching is cancelled?

Some teaching may also have to be cancelled. An attempt will be made to substitute cancelled instruction (individual courses or lectures) with alternative methods of completion. The University is monitoring the situation and aims to make sure that no unreasonable delay is caused to studies, should teaching be subjected to widespread cancellations.

University facilities and services

Kuvalliset turvallisuusohjeet

Are University facilities open?

University facilities have gradually reopened for regular use. See all the buildings' opening hours here.

  • The self-study facilities in the Kaisa House, and Meilahti Campus Library opened on Monday August 10, 2020. Kumpula Campus Library, Viikki Pop-up Library and the Learning Centres Aleksandria and Minerva opened on Monday August 17, 2020.
  • Think Corner opened again on August 17. The number of seats is limited according to the current official instructions. More information from Think Corner's bulletin.
  • UniSport's group exercise classes started again at the centers on 17 August. To guarantee safe participation in the classes, some special arrangements will be followed. Read more from Unisport's bulletin.
  • Unicafes opened up in stages from August 17 onwards. Due to the exceptional circumstances, the restaurants’ opening hours are a little shorter than usual and subject to change. There have also been changes to the student lunch prices. Read more on Unicafe's bulletin.

How can I study safely at the University?

Each student is responsible for following these safety instructions in all University premises, also including student restaurants, hallways and entrance halls:

  • Do not come to the University premises when ill or in quarantine. Keep a distance of 1-2 metres from others and take good care of your hand and coughing hygiene.
  • Keep a safety distance also when queuing or moving around the campus e.g. between classrooms.
  • The use of protective face masks is strongly recommended for members of the University community, visitors and customers (e.g., in cafeterias, museums, libraries and sports facilities) visiting public University premises. Mask use is recommended in all teaching situations, independent study as well as guidance and supervision situations. In laboratory teaching, mask use is required. Read the latest 
    • Please put used disposable masks in the classroom bin or in the bins reserved for masks, located near building entrances. 
  • Wash or disinfect your hands regularly. Hand disinfectant is available in classrooms and building entrances.
  • Use disinfectant towels to clean the keyboard and mouse of shared computers. You can get disinfectant towels from classrooms, library’s customer service or from the building’s porter.
  • Facilities with fixed furniture have marked places that should not be used. If the furniture is not fixed, keep a safety distance from others. In some spaces, extra chairs have been moved to the side. Please do not rearrange the furniture so that distancing is not possible.
  • Sit in the classroom so that each place can be reached without passing close to the others (e.g. if the furniture is fixed, fill the rows starting from one side, and if the rows are open from both sides, start from the middle).
  • Always follow additional instructions given in the facilities.

What is the University's stance on face masks?

  • The use of protective face masks is strongly recommended for members of the University community, visitors and customers (e.g., in cafeterias, museums, libraries and sports facilities) visiting public University premises. In addition, safe social distancing must be always observed whenever possible to prevent exposure.
  • Mask use is recommended in contact teaching, independent study as well as guidance and supervision situations. In laboratory teaching, mask use is required.
  • In the case of traineeships, the safety and security guidelines of the traineeship organisation (e.g., hospitals) are observed.   
  • The University is obtaining protective face masks for students and teachers involved in contact teaching.
  • The masks provided by the University are intended for learning situations only.

Read the latest information on masks on the University's website. 

Are student service points open?

The majority of guidance and support services will be conducted remotely during the autumn semester. However, some of the Student Service points are open with limited opening hours, taking safety precautions into consideration. More information about the opening hours can be found on the Student Services page.

Are University Libraries open?

Libraries are open and customer facilities are available with safety arrangements.
Check the opening hours and available services on the library's website.

Can I come for my guidance appointment at the University (e.g., counselling psychologist, master's thesis supervision, academic guidance)?

Majority of guidance appointments will be conducted remotely.  See further information on the individual guidance services on the page Where can I get couselling?.

How can I get my degree certificate during the exceptional situation?

You can ask for your certificate to be posted from your faculty's Student Services. It is also possible to pick up your certificate personally if/when your faculty's Student Service point is open.

Examinations

How are examinations organised during the exceptional situation period?

Teachers have been instructed to organise exams in alternative ways, e.g. with home exams or Moodle exams. You can find the updated info from the course page. 

Can I still take part in an electronic Examinarium exam? 

The exam facilities in Aleksandria will be reopnened on August 17, with half of the computers in use. 

The University will strive to keep its other Examinarium facilities open. If you have any flu symptoms, postpone your exam time. You can bring a disinfectant cloth etc. in the exam room and wipe the keyboard and mouse before the exam. More information from the Examinarium website. 

Remote studies

How can I make studying at a distance really work for me?

On the Support for studies pages, study psychologists have compiled tips for facilitating distance learning and for setting up routines.

Where can I find instructions on online teaching tools?

Can I borrow a laptop somewhere? What if I don’t have access to internet at home? 

Unfortunately the University cannot offer IT equipment nor internet connections for students studying remotely. Please ask your fellow students, friends or relatives for such equipment. Remember that you can use your mobile phone as a hotspot for your computer. First check the mobile data deal and cost with your operator.

Helsinki city libraries also return to normal services starting from 1 June which means that customers can use computer workstations again. Learn more about the city libraries' services during the summer.

Theses

Are steering groups (e.g. faculty councils) meeting normally to assess theses?

The steering groups make decisions in the usual manner. The meetings will happen remotely.

Can I use the Get Your Master’s Thesis Written! Grant (Gradut valmiiksi) during the exceptional situation?

Due to the coronavirus situation, grant recipients should inquire about the possibility of grant visits by directly contacting the station they have received the grant for. The research stations make decisions about receiving grant recipient according to their own consideration. 

Please notice that at certain times during the year the field stations can be very busy (May–September) and there might not be space for any grantees at the stations.

The spring grant application round was cancelled, but students who have already received the Grant (November 2019 application round) will also be able to postpone their visit to autumn 2020 depending on the availabilities of the research stations. The duration of the Grant is therefore extended until the end of 2020.

Transition period of the degree reform

I am supposed to graduate before the end of the transition period. What happens if due to the delays caused by the coronavirus I will not be able to do so before 31.7.2020? 

The transition period for first- and second-cycle degrees will be extended so that the new deadline for graduating in accordance with the old degree requirements is 18 December 2020. The programmes whose transition period would have finished 31.12.2020 have been extended until 31.7.2021. However, we encourage the students to study to the best of their abilities even when studying remotely.

Please note: in doctoral education, the extension of the transition period does not concern the deadline for the submission of a doctoral dissertation for preliminary examination, see further information in Flamma.

Now that the transition period is extended until 18 December, can I submit my thesis in the autumn term?

Yes, you can submit your thesis in the autumn. More information for the submission process can be found on the Instructions for Students theme Studying in accordance with the old degree requirements. Choose your own faculty's instructions to see exact submission dates. 

Can I transfer back to the old degree requirements now that the transition period was extended?

Unfortunately transferring is not possible.

More information on the transition period

Possible delays in studies

What will happen to my student allowance (opintotuki) if my studies are delayed?

For the time being, it is mostly possible to complete studies on a regular schedule as distance studies. However, Kela has also informed that the provisions on student aid make it possible to take account of the exceptional situation caused by the coronavirus within the maximum time limits for student aid and sufficient progress in studies. Follow Kela's bulletins and, if necessary, contact Kela's customer service.

My study right is expiring on 31.7.2020, but the coronavirus precautions will postpone my graduation. Should I apply for an extension normally and will the delays caused by the exceptional situation be taken into account?

All students whose study right expire on 31.7.2020 can apply for an extension. You can apply for the extension in the usual manner with an electronic form. The exceptional situation will be taken into account in the decision-making.

Will the delay in studies or graduation caused by coronavirus be taken into account in the expiry time of studies?

The university has decided to extend the expiration time of certain studies until the end of the autumn term 2020. These are studies that would otherwise expire on the basis of the faculty's regulations during the spring or autumn term 2020. The decision concerns 1) studies completed under the old degree requirements and 2) studies of students who are following the new degree requirements and who are about to graduate. The extension will be taken into account in the compilation of students' study modules and degrees.

Travel restrictions

Can I travel abroad? 

In terms of travel restrictions, the guidelines set by the Finnish government are to be observed. Always check the current situation on the regions where travel restrictions apply before booking a trip and travelling.

Should I stay in quarantine after arriving/returning to Finland? 

A 10-day self-quarantine is always recommended regardless of your travel destination, if possible considering the nature of your studies. 

My doctoral defence is upcoming but my opponent is unable to travel. What should I do?

Be immediately in touch with your home faculty’s doctoral student services. For the time being, doctoral defences can be arranged so that the doctoral candidate, opponent and/or other members of the grading committee participate the event through remote access, if needed. Read more in the doctoral education services' regularly updated bulletin.

Traineeships

My traineeship in Finland is about to start, is it okay to begin my traineeship as planned?

Traineeships can be completed in accordance with the instructions of the host organization in Finland.

Traineeships can be completed partly or fully remotely. In the university-funded traineeship, the trainee must have an assigned supervisor whose duty it is to provide guidance to the trainee. In remote work, special attention should be payed to guidance.

I’m abroad on my traineeship, what should I do?

See the detailed instructions for traineeships abroad on the Career services instructions.

Teacher traineeships

How can I complete my teacher traineeship during the coronavirus situation?

Follow the bulletin Instructions and Q&A by the Faculty of Educational Sciences.

Helsinki.fi: Policy of the Faculty of Educational Sciences on teaching traineeships

Student exchanges

I am or am planning to go on a student exchange. What should I do?

Follow the page by the International Exchange Services of the University of Helsinki on the effect of the coronavirus on student exchanges. The page will be updated according to developments.

As the International Exchange Services announcement advises, you should already obtain comprehensive travel insurance before paying any expenses related to the exchange.

Information for incoming exchange student.

Tuition fees

Do I need to pay tuition fees if my graduation is delayed due to coronavirus?

If necessary, the students liable to pay tuition fees who are about to graduate can finish their studies during autumn term 2020 without paying the tuition fee (Student Union fee required). Please check with your programme for distance studying possibilities. Tuition fees for the spring term cannot be reimbursed and scholarships cannot be postponed. If you have further questions, please contact tuitionfees@helsinki.fi

I’m doing my first year in a Bachelor’s/Master’s Programme. Do I need to pay the tuition fee normally for the next academic year?

The University of Helsinki plans to start the academic year 2020/2021 as announced and is proceeding with the preparations accordingly, which means that the invoices for tuition fees will be sent out as usual in early May. However, if you’re facing unexpected difficulties regarding the payment due to the coronavirus situation, please send a message to tuitionfees@helsinki.fi  to explain your situation before the end of April. We will look into each case separately in order to find the best solution possible.

I’m a first year student and worried that my graduation will be delayed next year due to coronavirus. What can I do in this situation and do I need to pay tuition fees if I have to continue my studies during the third study year?

Teaching and supervision are organized as much as possible in alternative ways to ensure the possibility to continue your studies in this exceptional situation. If your studies are nonetheless delayed due to coronavirus, for example because of course cancellations, this will be taken into account next spring when considering the possible extension of your studies and whether tuition fee will be charged during the third study year.

I was granted a scholarship for my studies and the extension requires that I complete 55 credits during the first academic year. What if I am unable to complete the required number of credits?

The credits will be checked in early June. If you don’t have the required 55 credits registered on WebOodi, the Student Services will send you a message to check the situation with you. If you know already at this point that you might not get the 55 credits due to cancelled courses, please contact the Student Services. If you have been unable to complete your courses due to the exceptional situation caused by coronavirus, this will be taken into account when considering the extension of the scholarship. Each case will be assessed individually.

I need to apply for an extension of my residence permit this spring/summer. What if the current situation causes delays in the processing times? Can I extend my residence permit if my graduation is delayed?

The current situation might affect residence permit processes. We recommend you to follow the latest updates on the Immigration Service's website. The Universities are currently working together with Migri to ensure that you’re able to apply for the extension of your residence permit as smoothly as possible if your studies are delayed due to coronavirus.

See also: Coronavirus: information for admitted degree students

New students

Have you been offered a study place at the University of Helsinki and will start your studies in autumn 2020? You can find coronavirus (COVID-19) related questions and answers on topics such as beginning your studies, orientation and tutoring and other practical matters on the Instructions for Students article Coronavirus: information for admitted students. The page will be continuously updated when new information is available.

Where can I find further information?

Please read first the instructions on this and your faculty’s page and send email to only one of the service addresses at a time in order to avoid congestion.

  • If you have any questions about the general measures caused by the coronavirus at the University, please contact coronavirus@helsinki.fi. The respondents at this address are experts of teaching and learning services, specialist staff, occupational health, university premises, cleaning services, conferences and events and IT.
  • If you have questions about course arrangements, contact the teacher responsible for the course. You will find more information on course pages.
  • If you need guidance for your studies or if you cannot find answers to your questions from your faculty’s corona instructions, please contact your faculty’s student services.

Read more about the coronavirus situation