The effect of coronavirus on your studies - Q&A

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By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

Page updated on July 7 at 09:50.

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

During the summer the best way to stay updated on the University’s corona instructions is to visit the page Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki. This page will not be updated regularly before the beginning of August.

The next info session on the coronavirus situation will be held on Monday, 16 August from 9.00 to 11.00.

Current situation

  • The University of Helsinki will transition from restriction level 3 to level 2 in accordance with the University’s recovery plan.
  • Library, museum and sports and fitness services can be opened as of 15 June. The necessary self-study facilities can be opened through joint planning by the relevant response centre, the IT Centre and the Facilities and Properties sector to be available during regular summer opening hours. Read more on the section University facilities and services.
  • Premises will be opened as needed for the provision of necessary teaching, cafeteria services as well as other services deemed necessary by the relevant response centre.
  • The restriction on indoor gatherings of no more than 10 people and on outdoor gatherings of no more than 50 people will be lifted on 15 June. Even if the restrictions related to the number of people allowed in events and meetings are removed, the guidelines issued by the authorities on health and safety, including recommendations for social distancing and other regulations, must be observed.
  • Teaching, examinations and examinations of doctoral theses during the summer will be carried out as previously planned. However, exceptions can be made at the discretion of the relevant response centre.
  • On the University premises, protective face masks must be worn, and social distancing as well as good hand hygiene must be practised. Everyone on the premises has the right to feel safe.
  • Information pertaining to the beginning of the new academic year will be provided on 13 August at the latest. The goal is to resume normal University operations on the campuses by employing any measures necessary in terms of health and safety.

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 Sisu.
  • 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 14 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 during spring 2021

How will University's functions be conducted until the end of the spring semester?

As a rule, teaching will be provided remotely until 31 July 2021, or the end of the academic year, apart from exceptions made by the response centres.  

On the University premises, protective face masks must be worn, and social distancing as well as good hand hygiene must be practised. Everyone on the premises has the right to feel safe.

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.

How will I know how my courses are organised in the spring?

The method of teaching is mainly decided on before the enrolment for courses begin. In principle there are no changes made to teaching even though the coronavirus pandemic would ease up. If the coronavirus pandemic worsens, teaching will be organised according to stricter safety and security requirements.

The teacher in charge of the course should take care of the students having the needed information before the enrolment begins and before the teaching begins.

Can attendance in teaching be mandatory?

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 responsibly 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.

Teaching during autumn 2021

Information pertaining to the beginning of the new academic year will be provided on 13 August at the latest. The goal is to resume normal University operations on the campuses by employing any measures necessary in terms of health and safety.

The planning of teaching to be provided in the autumn is progressing in such a way that, regardless of the coronavirus situation and vaccination coverage, contact instruction can be organised on campuses for groups of a limited size, taking safe social distancing into account. Lectures for large student groups will be held online. 

  • Teaching and examinations are planned so that spacing between individuals makes it possible to comply with the relevant social distancing rules.  
  • Contact instruction and examinations can be organised for groups of up to 50 students, taking into account the occupancy limits of the facilities and the valid safety guidelines. For compelling reasons, the response centres of faculties and other units providing teaching can increase the maximum number of students in groups.
  • Small-group instruction is prioritised in contact instruction. As a rule, mass lectures are held remotely.   
  • First-year students of bachelor’s and master’s programmes as well as second-year students of bachelor’s programmes are prioritised in contact instruction. The situation of international students will be assessed separately.  
  • Whenever possible, degree programmes organise contact instruction periods according to a staggered schedule.  
  • When organising events associated with the orientation period, all principles applicable to the organisation of teaching in the autumn term are observed, including giving priority to on-site meetings in small groups and organising larger events online.
  • If all planned contact instruction cannot be safely organised, the relevant response centre will decide on the prioritisation of such instruction.  

According to current estimates, roughly one-third of courses to be organised can be implemented safely as contact instruction on University premises.

Can attendance in teaching be mandatory?

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. 

University facilities and services

Kuvalliset turvallisuusohjeet

Are University facilities open?

  • Library, museum and sports and fitness services can be opened as of 15 June. The necessary self-study facilities can be opened through joint planning by the relevant response centre, the IT Centre and the Facilities and Properties sector to be available during regular summer opening hours.
  • Premises will be opened as needed for the provision of necessary teaching, cafeteria services as well as other services deemed necessary by the relevant response centre.

On the University premises, protective face masks must be worn, and social distancing as well as good hand hygiene must be practised. Everyone on the premises has the right to feel safe.

Are self-study spaces open?

  • The Learning Centre Minerva opened again on June 1, and Aleksandria will be open from June 14 onwards.
  • About half of the reading and working places are in use. Places for keeping the safety distances are marked.
  • Read more on the self-service spaces on the library's web site.
  • Opening hours can be shorter than usually so we advice you to check the hours in advance on the library web site as you plan your visit. 

Follow the instructions for the corona situation displayed in the self-study spaces. 

Are University Libraries open?

  • Library services to resume gradually from June onwards.
  • Collections and materials are available as usual in all library locations. You are able to pick up books from the shelves and borrow them using the self-service machines.
  • About half of the reading and working places are in use. Places for keeping the safety distances are marked. All computer rooms, group study rooms and reading rooms in the library will be out of use until further notice. 
  • Opening hours and information regarding the restrictions will be updated on the library's website. You'll find all the electronic customer service channels there as well.
  • Opening hours can be shorter than usually so we advice you to check the hours in advance on the library web site as you plan your visit. 

Follow the instructions for the corona situation displayed in the library.

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.
  • On the University premises, protective face masks must be worn.
    • 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 when the University premises are open?

On the University premises, protective face masks must be worn. The recommendation to wear protective face masks remains valid until further notice. In addition, safe social distancing must be always observed whenever possible to prevent exposure.

  • 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 primarily for working and learning situations.

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

Are student service points open?

Kaisa House Student information is open on Monday and Thursdays. More information about the current services can be found on the Student Services page.

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 counselling?.

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 participate in an Examinarium examination even though other University premises are closed?

Examinarium exam spaces are in use. If the doors to the building are closed, please call to the porter. (Main entrance to Aleksandria is from Fabianinkatu 28.)

  • Attend an exam only when you are healthy and free of symptoms. If you have any symptoms of an illness, reschedule or cancel your exam. If necessary, contact your examiner.
  • Wearing a protective face mask is required on University premises, unless there are no other people present. You can use your own mask or, if necessary, you can pick up a disposable mask from the janitor. Remember to dispose the protection ware properly.
  • Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes are available in the exam rooms. Wipe the keyboard and mouse before and after the exam.

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, student organizations, 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.

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. 

The students who have already received the Grant (November 2019 application round) will also be able to postpone their visit to spring 2021 depending on the availabilities of the research stations. 

The Spring 2021 grant application round is cancelled.

Transition period of the degree reform

The transition period for first- and second-cycle degrees was be extended so that the new deadline for graduating in accordance with the old degree requirements was 18 December 2020. The programmes whose transition period would have finished 31.12.2020 have been extended until 31.7.2021. 

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.

More information on the transition period

Possible delays in studies

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

You do not have to cancel or return financial aid payments from Kela even if you do not earn enough credits during the coronavirus outbreak. If you cannot study because of the coronavirus situation, your financial aid payments can continue even if you do not make sufficient academic progress.

Kela will take the coronavirus situation into account when monitoring your study progress for the academic year 2019–2020. For all higher education students, 2 months of financial aid will be deducted from the months of financial aid used in the academic year 2019–2020.

Follow Kela's coronavirus information page and, if necessary, contact Kela's customer service.

You can also read HYY's bulletin on the topic: How does the coronavirus affect your subsistence?

Due to the coronavirus precautions, my graduation will be postponed. Should I apply for an extension normally and will the delays caused by the exceptional situation be taken into account?

You can apply for the extension in the usual manner with an electronic form. The exceptional situation will be taken into account when deciding on extensions.

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.

Public examinations of doctoral theses

How will the public examinations of doctoral theses be organised? 

Examinations of doctoral theses during the summer will be carried out as previously planned. However, exceptions can be made at the discretion of the relevant response centre.

Public examinations of doctoral theses can be organised and planned to be held on site as of August, but there must be a plan to hold the event over remote connections if needed.

Read more about the guidelines for public examinations of doctoral theses.

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 paid 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.

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 2021 without paying the tuition fee. Second year master's students can apply for a special corona grant that covers the tuition fee for the autumn term 2021. The application period is in the end of March 2021 and possible applicants are contacted directly. 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 2021/2022 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 Sisu, 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 at tuitionfees@helsinki.fi. If you have been unable to complete your courses due to the exceptional situation caused by the 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.

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.

Decisions made by the Coronavirus Management Team can be found on Flamma (user is redirected to the Flamma service).
 

Read more about the coronavirus situation

Faculty-specific instructions

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.