Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about exchange

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.

Here you find answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Before the exchange

How to apply for an exchange at the University of Helsinki?
Before applying, please make sure you can answer yes to the following two questions:

  • Is there a valid student exchange agreement between your home university and University of Helsinki? Here you can find the agreements
  • Has your home university selected and nominated you for an exchange at the University of Helsinki?

Here you can find information on application periods, application process and attachments. Here you can find detailed information about the application process.

My home university does not have an agreement with University of Helsinki. Can I still study there?
If your home university does not have a student exchange agreement with University of Helsinki, but you would like to complete a part of your degree at University of Helsinki (UH), you can apply for a visiting student status.

What kind of language proficiency do I need for studying at University of Helsinki?
University of Helsinki requires language skills in English, Finnish or Swedish (the language you mainly plan to study with) that correspond to Level B2 on the CEFR scale.

I need to create my Learning Agreement. What do I need to do?
If you are an exchange student you can either use your home university’s Learning Agreement form or use University of Helsinki’s Learning Agreement form which you can create in Mobility Online during the application process. List the courses that you wish to take during your student exchange on the Learning Agreement. For finding the courses, please see our Course selection instruction. Please remember to fill in also the other fields required and get the Learning Agreement signed and stamped by your home institution. 

If you are a visiting student or not part of any programme, please fill in the specified Learning Agreement for visiting students.

When will I get the acceptance information?
The acceptance information is available within 6 weeks after the application deadline. The Faculties process the applications and send the acceptance information. This time can vary between faculties. Here you can read more about acceptance information

Does University of Helsinki offer a pickup service from the airport?
Unfortunately UH does not offer a pick-up service from the airport. It takes around 30 minutes to get to the city center from the airport. Please read more about finding your way


Where can I find the academic calendar for the university?
See the teaching periods here. Please note that those periods do not include orientation, which is included to your exchange period. You can find the duration of the exchange on the aforementioned page. 

Where can I find the Orientation Week schedule for my own Faculty?
Schedule for Orientation Week. Please choose the degree programme you have been accepted to at the top of the page in order to see your own schedule. 

What should I do if I arrive in Helsinki before the Orientation Week /Early arrival:
We don't recommend to arrive in Helsinki much before the Orientaion Week, because your study right and all the student benefits are valid only after the Orientation Week. Please note that due to the great number of incoming students, the International Exchange Services of University of Helsinki can’t provide individual guidance to exchange students regarding the enrollment process before the Orientation Week. If you’re looking for something to do in Helsinki before the Orientation Week, please check my Helsinki website

I cannot participate in the Oriantation. Where can I enroll? /Late arrival:
Please note that we strongly recommend arriving for the Welcome Fair as it is seen as a mandatory part of your exchange. If you arrive late, please contact International Exchange Services. Notice also that as the sign-up for courses happens during the orientation week, we cannot promise you access to the first period courses when arriving late. As a new student at University of Helsinki, the first weeks are crucial for meeting new friends and getting to know the city.

Where can I get my Learning Agreement signed?
Before the exchange

We recommend to wait until you have registered for the first period classes with the signatures, but if your home institution requires it earlier, please send it to to be signed. Make sure you have the signature from your home university first.

What if I need to make some changes in my Learning Agreement?
After the arrival, changes in your Learning Agreement are common due to updated curriculum. You might need an acceptance for changes from your home university, but the University of Helsinki does not require you to update your LA due to minor changes. University of Helsinki provides a form for changes if your home university does not provide one. You can send the updated Learning Agreement to us by email to be signed. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

When will I receive my student number?
You will receive your student number during the orientation week.

How can I get a student card?
You can order either a plastic student card or a digital student card after the Welcome Fair if you have joined the Student Union. Before ordering, please see the conditions and instructions.

When will I meet my tutor?
You will meet your tutor and tutor group during the Orientation week. Some of the tutors might contact their tutees already before that.


Where can I find the course catalogue? Are there courses in English?
Here you can find the course catalogues and see which courses are offered in English and are available for exchange students.
Please check out the language and timetable of the course before registering for it.

When can I sign up for courses?
You can sign up for courses after arrival. You need a University of Helsinki computer user ID for that. You will receive the computer user ID at the Welcome Fair, along with instructions for using Sisu to register for courses. Your tutor will help you with signing up for the courses during the orientation week. 

How many credits do I have to complete during my exchange at the University of Helsinki?
The average workload for one semester at the University of Helsinki is 30 ECTS credit points (60 ECTS for the whole academic year). In the end it depends on your home university how many ECTS credits you have to obtain per semester, since the sending institution is in charge of the approval of the courses. However, at the application stage your learning agreement should include at least 20 ECTS credit points for one semester and at least 40 ECTS for the whole academic year). 

I am a BSc / MSc level student. Which courses can I take?
You find information on our course levels at the end of the where can I find courses instruction page. In most cases we follow our course levels, but at some faculties advanced level BSc students can take MSc level courses taken that they have the required prerequisites for the courses. 

Can I take courses from any faculty / study programme?
You should choose the majority (at least 50%) of your courses from the faculty/degree programme that has the exchange agreement with your home institution. University level bilateral exchange students are required to choose the majority of their courses from one faculty. Please note that you need to have sufficient prior academic background in the disciplines taught. When planning your studies take into account that the faculties arrange their teaching on different campuses. There are programmes that have restrictions for minor students.

Can I do my minor at University of Helsinki?
In some cases, it is possible to study full-time at a faculty that students do not have prior studies from. You need to have the required prerequisites for your minor studies in Helsinki. Please note that the basic studies are taught in most cases in Finnish. This is why we recommend you to apply for your major studies.

What is an intensive period? Do I have to participate in it?
Participating in the intensive courses during the intensive period is optional. You can participate in the intensive courses if they fit to your schedule. Please note that the intensive periods in August and January are unfortunately arranged so that they begin before the new exchange students arrive in Helsinki. If your study right begins after the intensive period, you can not take part on the intensive period. 

What if I can’t participate in a course to which I have been registered?
Tell the teacher of the course either face to face or by email that you can’t participate in the course after all. You don’t have to remove the course registration in Sisu, because the courses which you have not completed will not show on your Transcript of Records. Check how many ECTS credits you need according to your home university and make sure that you still get enough ECTS credits even if you drop the course. 

What should I do, if I fail an exam?
Please check Moodle or Sisu to see when you can retake the examination. You can normally retake an exam twice. Participating in an exam is possible only if your study right is valid on the day of re-examination. Please note that the study rights end at Christmas/the end of May.  Usually the student must register for the exam on Sisu and give the information required for example on the language of the exam.

I will be returning / have already returned home. How can I get my transcript of records?
You can order the transcript by yourself, please see instructions for ordering the transcript here.

I have not yet graduated as a Bachelor, can I apply for master –level exchange if I will be graduating before the exchange?
Yes you can. Remember to tell us about your graduation.

Do I have to pay any tuition fees?
You do not have to pay any fees if you come through programme or as a visiting student. If you want to study some courses at the Open University of Helsinki, that will cost you 15 euros/1ECTS.


How can I find an apartment?
Exchange students coming through an official exchange programme can apply for student housing in the Mobility Online application system. Visiting students can apply for Hoas housing directly through the Hoas website. We have listed other housing options and the most important steps on our website.

How can I pick up my keys to my apartment?
You should follow the instructions sent by the housing provider to pick up your keys. University of Helsinki does not offer key pick up service.

What if I am not able to pick up my keys right after I arrive? Can I move to my apartment already in August?
In the autumn the orientation week starts usually in the end of August. However, it is possible that you will get access to your apartment only in the beginning of September. Please check the office hours of your housing provider and when you can get to your apartment before arriving in Helsinki. If you want someone else to pick up the keys of your apartment for you, that person needs a written permission from you (with your name, birthday, address in Finland, recipient’s name and birthday). Please note that the university cannot pick up the keys for you.

What if I do not have accommodation at the time of arrival or I arrive after the housing office opening hours?
In case you arrive after the office hours or are not able to access your housing before September, you should book a room in a hostel or maybe meet a local by trying couch surfing for the first night(s). Have a look at the options we have gathered under the short term housing

Moving around

Do I get a student discount for the public transportation’s Travel Card?
You will get a student discount for the months that you are studying here (not available for PhD students). You will receive papers and instructions for this at the Welcome Fair. Get to know the public transport system.

Here you can find the ways from airport to Helsinki City Centre

Helsinki and Espoo also have city bikes that you can activate for season (April-October) with HSL card. One season costs around 30 euros. There is also possibility to rent them for a day or for a week.

Assistance in special situations

How can I extend my stay?
Remember to start the process latest two months before the end of your original exchange and follow the instructions on how to extend.

What if I have to cancel my exchange before arrival?
In case you need to cancel your exchange, please let us know through email: studentexchange(at) and we will take care of the rest. There might be some costs if you already made an agreement with student housing company. Remember to inform your home university coordinator about the cancellation.

What if I have to go back home early?
Let us know as soon as you know when and why you are interrupting the exchange. Remember to inform your home university coordinator about the interruption. It is also polite to let the lecturers know you are dropping their course. You might have to return part of your grant if you leave in the middle of the semester. Check your rental contract, some companies do not let you dismiss it if you leave beforehand. Remember to get the signature to your departure certificate in person before you leave (during the pandemic you can get the signature by sending the form and a copy of your arrival& departure tickets by email). In the case of homesickness, you can always visit home for a long weekend and return to Finland.

What if I get sick during my exchange?
Read more about healthcare for exchange students

Student life

Are there any sports facilities for the students who study at the University of Helsinki?
There are cheap options for sports at our university. 

Is there a student organization for exchange students?
ESN Uni Helsinki organizes various events and activities for incoming exchange students every year. There are also many other student organizations

Read more about student life in Helsinki