Special arrangements support studies

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This instruction features information about special arrangements, intended to support your studies. Special arrangements must be based on sufficient and documented reasons as well as a genuine need for them. If you are not sure whether you have the right to request special arrangements, please contact an accessibility liaison at the email address specialneeds@helsinki.fi. If your email contains sensitive information please use secure email connection.

What kinds of special arrangements are available?

Special arrangements are practical arrangements for teaching, supervision or examination. The content and implementation of the special arrangements will be determined by your individual needs and situation. Special arrangements may include

  • More time to complete an examination
  • A smaller or separate examination room
  • The use of technical aids (computer, induction loop)
  • The use of personal assistant or interpreter

Special arrangements do not entail compromising on learning objectives. They are intended to help you reach them. For example, the examinations and studies of all students are assessed with the same assessment criteria, and any special arrangements employed have no bearing on the assessment.

Studies required for a degree can only be waived for extremely compelling reasons (e.g., a deaf student has a compulsory listening comprehension examination). The primary means of handling such cases is to agree on an alternative form of completion with the coordinating teacher or unit.

What kind of certificate do I need for special arrangements?

To be granted special arrangements, you must have a certificate from a doctor or an equivalent expert, such as a psychologist, speech therapist or physical therapist, indicating the grounds for special arrangements. A certificate of dyslexia can also be written by a special education teacher. Further information on dyslexia and its diagnosis can be found here (in Finnish).

The person who drafts the certificate must identify the student (with the name and personal identity code) and briefly describe the grounds for special arrangements. The certificate should also indicate in concrete terms the arrangements that would benefit the student.

What to do in a teaching or examination situation?

  • Negotiate any necessary special arrangements for teaching and examination situations with the teachers of the individual courses, or with the accessibility liaisons, if necessary. Contact them in good time, as special arrangements also mean additional work for teachers.
  • Present the certificate of your disability or illness and the need for special arrangements.
  • If the arrangements pertain to an event organised by an individual teacher, you may contact the teacher directly.
  • If the event is a general examination sitting for several different courses, contact the accessibility liaison at specialneeds@helsinki.fi.
    • If your email contains sensitive information please use secure email connection.
    • The need for additional time, a separate examination space or the use of technical aids must be announced by email to the accessibility liaison at specialneeds@helsinki.fi. Make the announcement early enough, at least 10 days before the examination so that the accessibility liaison has time to make the special arrangements you need.
    • You must demonstrate your need for special arrangements when you request them for a general examination for the first time. For examinations of less than three hours, the recommended amount of additional time is 30 minutes and one hour per examination of three hours or more. Other amounts of time may be decided for exceptional reasons. Being granted additional time does not exclude you from receiving other special arrangements for an examination, such as using technical aids.
  • If your disability prevents you from gaining access to the teaching space, or you require the course materials as voice recordings or in braille, contact Student Services in early spring to secure arrangements for the coming academic year. This is to ensure that there is time for teaching facilities to be booked in time and the teaching material to be rendered into the appropriate format.

Information about borrowing accessible course and examination literature can be found here.

What can I do if I have a disability or challenge that has an extensive impact on my studies?

If your need for special arrangements has such a profound impact on your degree that it may make it difficult for you to complete its objectives, please contact the accessibility liaison and an education planning officer.

For example, if you must complete most written examinations orally or oral examinations in writing, you may need to discuss your studies with the person in charge of teaching in your degree programme, a senior lecturer in university pedagogy and a representative from the special arrangements expert panel. The goal is for you to receive the special arrangements you need while ensuring that the objectives required for the degree as a whole are met. For example, you cannot complete an entire degree as distance learning, as that would imply you will not gain the required career and interaction skills through traineeships.

Similarly, it is not recommended for most of your degree to be completed orally even if you have difficulty writing, because then you would not develop as a writer.

Special arrangements expert panel

The University has an expert panel which can provide a recommendation for special arrangements. You can request a recommendation from the expert panel if

  • The certificates you have received from healthcare professionals include information which you do not want to release to the teacher or accessibility liaison.
  • The certificates you have received from healthcare professionals do not sufficiently specify the special arrangements needed.
  • The teacher or accessibility liaison cannot resolve your need for special arrangements.
  • You have had problems receiving the special arrangements you need.

When requesting a recommendation from the expert panel, complete a free-form application (pdf) according to the instructions. Please send the application with attachments via email from 18 March to 30 September 2020 using secure email connection erityisjarjestelyryhma(at)helsinki.fi.s. More information about confidential email can be found here.