Ethical principles for the University community

The instruction belongs to the following themes

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.

Ethical principles are ideals that should support both teaching and studies. The University’s ethical principles are not intended to be regulations or rules – they aim to provide tools for members of the whole University community to help them tackle ethical issues. Every University student or employee is a member of the University community.

Ethically sound university teaching and studies feature responsibility, mutual trust, transparent operations and learning together.

The foundation of teaching and studies is that everyone’s legal protection is respected. Legal protection encompasses equality, just treatment and the opportunity to appeal against decisions concerning oneself.

A critical perspective and open, constructive criticism are part of academic life. This does not, however, mean that others or their achievements may be insulted or. Recognising the value of the work of others is crucial, and helps others find new perspectives and solutions.

The operations of our University community are defined by our values: truth, Bildung, freedom and inclusivity. Alongside our values, ethical guidelines and principles constitute a foundation for decision-making and operational development at the University.

You can find the full ethical guidelines on the University's external website. You can also get to know the University's Ethical guidelines by completing a Moodle training.

Potential ethical issues

Registration for courses

Students must receive the information they need in order to plan their studies in sufficient time. Students must understand that registering for a course is equivalent to a promise: breaking such a promise complicates the allocation of resources and provision of instruction, and may deny another student a place in a course.

Absence through illness

When organising studies, it should be taken into account that both students and teachers may fall ill. Students have the right to receive instruction regardless of the teacher’s personal situation, which means that substitute teachers must be provided. Students cannot be required to participate in studies if they are ill. Any supplementary assignments given to students due to their absence may not be unreasonable in scope or exceed the workload required of those who participated in the course.

Independent study

University studies aim to produce professionals in various disciplines who are able to work and make decisions independently. For this reason, students should have the opportunity to complete some of their studies independently or in the form of distance learning. However, measures must be taken to ensure that distance learning and independent study do not lead to a decline in learning outcomes or in the isolation of students from the University community.

Teaching vs. research

At the University of Helsinki, all researchers teach and all teachers conduct research. By participating in teaching and involving students in research, researchers can inspire students in the early phases of studies and boost their interest in various research fields and topics. Becoming a part of a research group is a very concrete sign to students that they belong to the academic community.

Difficulties in studies

Students experiencing personal difficulties are also members of the University community. While a range of services is available, members of the community are also responsible for one another. Caring and interaction are features of a healthy community. Teachers are not expected to act as psychologists, but should show that they care by being interested in the students, their studies and their study progress as well as in any obstacles to studying. We must ensure that no one is left alone to deal with their problems. The University can offer many different forms of help and support, and cooperation is often needed to resolve the issues.

Relationships between teachers and students

Correct behaviour and the appropriate handling of duties are key elements of the teaching profession. Forming exceptionally close relations with individual students jeopardises a teacher’s impartiality. Students must be able to trust that all are treated equally and fairly. Anyone working and interacting with students should aim to be a good example and promote the establishment and dissemination of ethical principles. Teachers must not take advantage of less influential community members to promote their own interests.

Get to know the ethical guidelines in an on-line training

The goal of the training focused on the ethical guidelines of the University of Helsinki is to increase students’ and staff's awareness of themes associated with ethics. The training is completed in Moodle as a single self-study offering and it takes about fifteen minutes to complete. Link to the Ethical guidelines course page.