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Doctoral defences and corona virus situation

12.3.2020
Doctoral Programme in Theology and Religious Studies
Doctoral Programme in Law
Doctoral Programme in Philosophy, Arts and Society
Doctoral Programme in History and Cultural Heritage
Doctoral Programme in Language Studies (HELSLANG)
Doctoral Programme in Gender, Culture and Society (SKY)
Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences
Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Changes (PYAM)
Doctoral Programme in Economics
Doctoral Programme in School, Education, Society and Culture
Doctoral Programme in Psychology, Learning and Communication
Doctoral Programme in Particle Physics and Universe Sciences (PAPU)
Doctoral Programme in Geosciences (GeoDoc)
Doctoral Programme in Atmospheric Sciences (ATM-DP)
Doctoral Programme in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences (CHEMS)
Doctoral Programme in Mathematics and Statistics (Domast)
Doctoral Programme in Materials Research and Nanosciences (MATRENA)
Doctoral Programme in Computer Science (DoCS)
Doctoral Programme in Biomedicine (DPBM)
Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research (KLTO)
Doctoral Programme in Population Health (DOCPOP)
Doctoral Programme in Oral Sciences (FINDOS)
Doctoral Programme in Drug Research (DPDR)
Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science (ILS)
Doctoral Programme Brain and Mind
Doctoral Programme in Clinical Veterinary Medicine (CVM)
Doctoral Programme in Wildlife Biology (LUOVA)
Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences (DPPS)
Doctoral Programme in Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources (AGFOREE)
Doctoral Programme in Microbiology and Biotechnology
Doctoral Programme in Food Chain and Health
Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences (DENVI)

This bulletin is updated as the situation evolves. (Last updated September 18, 2020: Friday remote defence slots fully booked up until the end of November)

The corona virus situation in Finland and around the world affects also the arrangements of public defences.

  • Because of the exceptional situation, it's possible until the end of fall semester 2020 to arrange defences so that the doctoral candidate, opponent and/or other members of the grading committee participate the event through remote access.
  • Defences organized in part through remote access can also be streamed for outside audience.
  • If a remote access is not needed for anyone, defences can be arranged in the usual fashion. If a defence is held without remote access, it will not be automatically streamed for an outside audience.

Independent of whether your defence is a remote access event or a "regular" defence, always start by contacting the doctoral student services of your faculty before making any other arrangements.

When is remote access needed?

You should prepare for the likelihood of a remote access event for example in the following situations:

  • Your opponent resides abroad.
  • You / one of the members of the grading committee belong to a risk group of the pandemic.
  • You need an audience video stream for your event.

The restrictions in place at the university are based on the decisions of the Finnish government: for example, for as long as restrictions and quarantine requirements are in place for those arriving to Finland from abroad, these rules and restrictions also apply to opponents. Visitors arriving from countries with travel restrictions in place are not allowed to visit university facilities without a 14-day quarantine after arriving to Finland.

The health and safety of all participants are a first priority when arranging the event. Participants displaying even slight symptoms of a respiratory illness should never participate the event on location. If your opponent does not want to travel to Finland, even should the restrictions allow it, their wishes must be respected.

Audience participation

Audience can participate on location both in regular defences and in defences organized partly through remote access. However, restrictions apply:

  • To allow for safe distances, each lecture hall has a maximum audience capacity which is approximately half of the normal capacity. For the exact allowed capacity of each lecture hall, please see the Teaching facilities of the University of Helsinki -website.
  • We try to book you venues big enough to accommodate at least 20 people. If a defence, for some reason, has to be booked into a room that does not allow for the minimum of 20 audience places, it must be made available to audience through an interactive video stream to assure the adequate publicity of the event.
  • The safety distances and the allowed audience capacity are clearly and visibly marked in the lecture halls and must be followed. If you like, you can reserve 5 to 10 seats to the people of your choice (e.g. supervisors, family). If you wish to do this, mark these seats with a "reserved" notice before the start of the event. The remaining seats will be filled in order of arrival. If the safety distances are not followed, the portiers can intervene in the situation if needed.
  • Hand sanitizer and a recommendation to use it both before and after the defence are always available outside the lecture halls used for doctoral defences. Outside each lecture hall, there are also instructions for the audience to leave their contact information for the purpose of tracing possible covid exposures.

How should I proceed?

  • Once the date of your defence has been decided, always start by contacting your home faculty’s doctoral student services – not the university’s events team or the booking services. The doctoral student services will establish if remote access is needed and will then guide you forward in the process.
  • Until further notice, it's strictly forbidden to reserve a lecture hall for the defence before receiving a green light from the doctoral student services of your home faculty. The arrangements for both remote access and regular defences take an unusual amount of coordination during the exceptional situation (audience restrictions, safety distances, cleaning, IT-support) and making independent arrangements without permission complicates matters for everyone involved.
  • If remote access is needed, the timing and execution of the event will, for now, be coordinated by the university’s events team. The events team will take care of booking the venue, arranging IT-support and creating the needed remote access links.
  • Only a limited number of remote access defences can be held on any given date. If the planned date has already been fully booked, it’s possible that your event will have to be moved to a different date / start time. Fridays are especially popular, so when deciding on the date, please consider all weekdays flexibly. All Fridays until the end of October are already fully booked and new remote access defences can't be set for those dates.
  • If remote access is not needed, you can book the venue directly from the university’s booking services after you have been in touch with the faculty doctoral student services. The recommended starting time for new defences agreed to be held on weekdays is 1 PM instead of the traditional noon. On Saturdays, Porthania is the only building open.
  • Please note that if you have planned to have a regular defence and you, your opponent or a member of the grading committee is unexpectedly unable to participate in person, you should be in touch with your faculty’s doctoral student services as soon as possible. In these cases, your event might have to be moved to a later date, as changing a regular defence to a remote access event at a short notice cannot be guaranteed.

Distribution, public display and publicizing during the exceptional situation

During the exceptional situation, printed copies of upcoming theses will not be publicly displayed at the University Main Building. Please note that the required printed copies, public display copy included, must nevertheless be distributed as usual. While the restrictions continue, the printed copies can be distributed by post if the relevant buildings are closed.

During the disruption to the public display of theses, it's especially important to remember to fill the dissertation form available on the E-thesis website no less than three weeks before the public examination. Through the form, information on the event will be picked up to the University's event calendar. If your event is streamed online, please wait until you receive the audience links before filling in the form – you will need to include the links to the form. The dissertation form will also be used to store the abstracts to be published on the E-thesis website.

Don't forget to acquaint yourself with the detailed instructions on publishing, distributing and publicizing the thesis.

Water, coffee services & post-doctoral parties

During the exceptional situation, the portiers deliver water bottles to the lecture halls for the use of the doctoral candidate, opponent and custos. These need not be separately ordered for now.

Defence coffee services on university premises are not allowed in August. After that, coffee services are only allowed in separately booked, closed facilities (i.e. not for example in the lobbies of buildings). Should you like, you can arrange for a coffee service to take place at a nearby restaurant. As in normal times, the doctoral candidate is responsible for the all the costs of the possible coffee service.

The post-doctoral party (karonkka) is not an official event of the university and each doctoral candidate is responsible for decisions concerning their own event. However, the university strongly recommends that if you arrange a post-doctoral party, you keep in mind the restrictions in place on large gatherings and attend to safe distances and hygiene recommendations.

Contact information to the faculty doctoral student services:

More information