Legal protection of students

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.

The purpose of legislation, rules and policies pertaining to degrees and studies is to ensure equal access to information, equal treatment and legal protection for all students.

The legal protection of students in academic matters is governed by

Academic Appeals Board

The duties of the University’s Academic Appeals Board include:

  • Processing appeals against the grading of exams and other academic performance, credit transfer decisions and the grading of licentiate theses and doctoral dissertations.
  • Monitoring the decisions on appeals against the forfeiture of the right to complete a degree at the faculty level to ensure the equal treatment of students.
  • Creating initiatives aimed at developing the legal protection of students.
  • Issuing statements on matters related to the legal protection of students.
  • Processing other matters related to the legal protection of students where such matters do not fall within the jurisdiction of the university’s other administrative bodies pursuant to the Universities Act or the University of Helsinki’s Regulations.

Mail addressed to the University’s Academic Appeals Board should be delivered to the university’s Registry Office, Fabianinkatu 33 (postal address: Archives and Registry, PO Box 3, 00014 University of Helsinki) or emailed to hy-arkki@helsinki.fi

Appeals regarding the grading of courses or the recognition of previous learning

If you are dissatisfied with the grading of a course, you can request further information on the examination and its assessment criteria from the teacher who marked the examination. You have the right to request to see your answers.

Equally, if you are dissatisfied with the recognition of previous learning acquired formally or non-formally, you can request further information from the teacher who made the relevant decision.

If you remain dissatisfied with the grading of the course or the decision on the recognition of previous learning after obtaining the grounds given, please follow these instructions:

  1. Submit an appeal to the teacher responsible for the grading for a rectification of the grading decision within 14 days of obtaining the examination grade and assessment criteria. Appeals pertaining to the recognition and validation of learning must be submitted to the person responsible for the decision within 14 days of obtaining the decision. 
  2. If you are dissatisfied with the decision made on your appeal by the teacher, you can appeal the decision to the University’s Academic Appeals Board within 14 days of obtaining the decision.

The Academic Appeals Board does not process appeals if the matter has not been first appealed to the teacher who made the original decision (NB. does not apply to appeals against advanced studies theses).

Content of appeals regarding the grading of courses or the recognition of previous learning, required attachments:

The appeal is made in writing and must indicate the following:

  1. Decision to be appealed
  2. The rectification requested
  3. Grounds for the appeal
  4. Account of the date of receipt of the decision, if the period of submission indicated in the instructions for appeal is contested
  5. Name and contact details of the appellant

Documents to be attached to the appeal:

  1. Teacher’s decision made on the appeal pertaining to the grading of a course or the recognition of previous learning
  2. Account of the date of receipt of the teacher’s decision. If the teacher’s decision was sent by email, the original message must be submitted to the Academic Appeals Board in a form that indicates the relevant parties and the date and time of its receipt.
  3. In the case of appeals pertaining to the grading of examinations or learning assignments, attach to the appeal your answers/learning assignment as well as the grading criteria for the examination/learning assignment and model answers, if available.
  4. In the case of appeals pertaining to the recognition of previous learning, attach to your appeal all documents enclosed with the original request for recognition, including content descriptions of the course to be substituted and recognised.

Appeals regarding the grading of master’s theses

If you are dissatisfied with the grade proposal for a thesis included in your second-cycle degree (master’s thesis), you can request, in writing, that the grading of your thesis be suspended before the faculty council/steering group has made a decision on the matter. This will cancel the grading procedure.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision by the faculty council/steering group on the grading of your master’s thesis, you can appeal the decision to the Academic Appeals Board.

The Academic Appeals Board does not process appeals pertaining to students’ dissatisfaction with deficiencies in thesis supervision, if any, or the grounds given in grading decisions. Consequently, the Academic Appeals Board does not process appeals seeking to rectify the written grading statement and proposal of the thesis examiners only.

Theses included in second-cycle degrees are written independently by students. Ultimately, students decide on the form and content of their theses, and students alone are responsible for their theses. Theses are assessed as is on the basis of the relevant assessment criteria. Deficiencies in supervision, if any, or the workload students have undertaken in connection with their theses does not, as such, constitute grounds for a better grade than that based on the content of the thesis. Correspondingly, amendments made on the basis of supervisors’ comments do not automatically justify a better grade. Instead, students are independently responsible for the content of their theses and related choices.

The Academic Appeals Board processes appeals pertaining to theses by providing the person responsible for the grading with the opportunity to submit a response to the appeal. Before making a decision, the board can also obtain a statement from an expert not affiliated with the University of Helsinki. Appellants are provided the opportunity to be heard on any material obtained relevant to the matter before the Academic Appeals Board makes its decision.

Students can graduate from the University before the processing of an appeal pertaining to the grading of their thesis is completed. Students must notify the Academic Appeals Board of their up-to-date contact details, such as an active email address. If the grade of a thesis is changed as a result of the appeal process, a new certificate will be provided to the student.

Content of appeals pertaining to theses, required attachments

The appeal is made in writing and must indicate the following:

  1. Decision to be appealed
  2. The rectification requested
  3. Grounds for the appeal
  4. Account of the date of receipt of the decision, if the period of submission indicated in the instructions for appeal is contested
  5. Name and contact details of the appellant

Documents to be attached to the appeal:

  1. Master’s thesis
  2. Thesis assessment form
  3. Extract of the minutes of the meeting as well as appendices, if any, to the minutes of the meeting of the faculty council/steering group indicating the meeting date, faculty, name of the thesis writer and the grade given for the thesis. You can request the documents from the head of academic affairs of your faculty.

Alternatively, you can submit the original email message notifying you of the approval and registration of your thesis, provided that the message indicates the grade given for the thesis and the date of the faculty council’s/steering group’s decision. If information on the decision was sent by email, the original message must be submitted to the Academic Appeals Board in a form that indicates the relevant parties and the date and time of its receipt.

Appeals regarding the grading of licentiate theses and doctoral theses

If you are dissatisfied with the grading of your licentiate thesis or doctoral thesis, you can submit an appeal directly to the Academic Appeals Board. You can submit an appeal to the Academic Appeals Board on the basis of the final grading decision only.

Please note that, before the grading of your licentiate thesis, you can request in writing that the grading be suspended. This will cancel the grading procedure.

Content of the appeal regarding the grading of licentiate theses and doctoral theses, required attachments:

The appeal is made in writing and must indicate the following:

  1. Decision to be appealed
  2. The rectification requested
  3. Grounds for the appeal
  4. Account of the date of receipt of the decision, if the period of submission indicated in the instructions for appeal is contested
  5. Name and contact details of the appellant

Documents to be attached to the appeal:

  1. Licentiate thesis or doctoral thesis
  2. Decisions by the faculty council/steering group
  3. Statements by the examiner/preliminary examiners
  4. Responses by the author of the thesis, if any (on the statements of the examiner or preliminary examiners and the opponent, as well as the appointment of the preliminary examiners and opponent)
  5. Date of receipt of the information. If information on the final grade of the thesis was sent by email, the original message must be submitted to the Academic Appeals Board in a form that indicates the relevant parties and the date and time of its receipt.

Period of submission for appeals

If you are dissatisfied with the grading of your advanced studies thesis, licentiate thesis or doctoral thesis, you may appeal in writing to the Academic Appeals Board within 14 days of receiving the grading decision. The date when you had access to the decision is not included in the 14 days given to submit an appeal. Students are considered to have obtained the information on the seventh day since posting, unless proven otherwise. Unless proven otherwise, a notification sent electronically is considered to have been received on the third day from sending the message, excluding the day of sending.

Duration of appeal processing

Based on section 23 of the Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003), the Academic Appeals Board is obliged to process appeals without undue delay. The law or the University's internal regulations do not provide any more detailed timeframes for the processing of appeals. Students should be prepared for the processing of appeals pertaining to theses in particular to take at least a few months, as the processing involves requests for clarification and responses as well as for a statement from an expert not affiliated with the University of Helsinki.

The Academic Appeals Board processes the appeals submitted to it in the order of their receipt. The duration of the process is calculated from the date all documents required to process the appeal have been received. After submitting your appeal, you will receive an automated reply from the Registry of the University of Helsinki. The official responsible for your appeal will contact you when your appeal is being processed and if you need to supplement your appeal. Please make sure you have provided the Academic Appeals Board with your up-to-date contact details.

After the processing of your appeal has begun and when you are submitting requested documents or wish to enquire about the status of the processing, please write to the official processing your appeal and to the University Registry (hy-arkki@helsinki.fi). Also remember to include in the subject field the number (UH number) associated with your appeal if you have received such a number in connection with a request to supplement your appeal or another message sent by the Academic Appeals Board.

Contact details

Appeals are submitted to the Academic Appeals Board of the University of Helsinki:

Postal address: Archives and Registry, PO Box 4, 00014 University of Helsinki
or hy-arkki@helsinki.fi
Visiting address: Yliopistonkatu 3, 3rd floor
Opening hours: weekdays 10.00–14.00

Contact persons

The Heads of Academic Affairs are in charge of matters related to the legal protection of students. The contact information for the Heads of Academic Affairs is available here.

In addition the Student Union has an academic affairs specialist you can contact if you need advice on students' legal protection. You can find the contact information for the Student Union's personnel here.

Legal Advice for Students

If you are in need of legal advice in other matters, please consult the following links: