The effect of coronavirus on teaching - Q&A

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Updated on 2 July at 15.30

On this page, questions and answers concerning the COVID-19 disease will be collected especially from the perspective of teaching and teachers’ work. Students' frequently asked questions and answers are available on the Instructions for Students website. Please select your degree programme above to see if your faculty has provided further instructions.

In the first place, the University always complies with instructions provided by the authorities. You can keep yourself up to date with developments on the University website Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki.

Current situation

The University initiates recovery from the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus. Time-critical research is among the operations to be resumed in the first stage of recovery. As of 1 June 2020, in the second stage of the recovery plan, examinations critical for graduation and critical field courses can also be organised. Decisions will be communicated as they are specified further during the spring and autumn.

Teaching in autumn 2020

The planning of teaching for the autumn is currently based on the assumption that the University is able to transition to Stage 3 of the recovery plan on 17 August. If this is the case, no teaching-related mass events will be organised, social distancing rules will be observed and people are advised to avoid contact:

  • Remote teaching and supervision is recommended.
  • Contact teaching can be organised when taking into consideration the safety distances (1-2 metres) specified for teaching spaces.
  • Information on the capacity of teaching facilities has been updated with safe distance requirements in Optime (the software for timetabling and facility booking, requires logging in with University credentials) and on the facility introduction website. The number of seating places and other facility-specific information are also available on Flamma as an Excel file (requires logging in with University credentials).
  • Whenever possible, independent studying is offered as an option to people in at-risk groups.
  • The number of users in independent learning facilities will be restricted.

If the coronavirus pandemic worsens, teaching will be organised according to stricter safety and security requirements:

  • As a rule, teaching will be provided remotely.
  • Strictly limited contact teaching can be organised, for example, in laboratory instruction.
  • Independent learning facilities will be closed.

I feel ill. What should I do?

See instructions on the university website: Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki

How can I arrange my teaching as distance teaching?

Contact teaching and supervision at the University of Helsinki should be replaced by alternative methods, such as online teaching, home exams or written learning assignments. You are responsible for deciding which pedagogical solutions work best for your purposes and the course you’re teaching. Please inform the planning officer or specialist (koulutussuunnittelija) of your degree programme about the changes. Inform your students about the new arrangements through the course page (see user instructions).

If you decide to provide distance teaching, it is recommended to arrange it at home.

At the moment, distance teaching can also be offered from the appropriate facilities of the University, see further information on the page linked below. 

How to modify an existing course or exam into distance teaching

  • practical instructions: facilities for online teaching, Moodle instructions etc.
  • pedagogical tips for distance teaching

Instruction videos and streaming your lectures

  • technical information for choosing and using different online teaching tools

If you need to borrow distance teaching equipment (camera and microphone) for your own use, you can contact Helpdesk at Your unit is responsible for the costs of the equipment. You will need the WBS number of your unit to borrow the equipment.

How will teaching, course examinations and doctoral defences be organised in the fall?

Remote teaching and supervision is recommended for the fall term 2020.

Contact teaching can be organised when taking into consideration the safety distances (1-2 metres) specified for teaching spaces. Information on the capacity of teaching facilities with safe distance requirements can be found in Optime, on the facility introduction website and on Flamma. Whenever possible, independent studying should be offered as an option to people in at-risk groups.

International degree programmes will independently decide, or follow faculty-specific guidelines, on the types of study alternatives they will offer students in autumn 2020 (remote teaching, suspension of the beginning of teaching, etc.  

Some teaching may also have to be cancelled. Faculties will make the necessary decisions on these matters and issue guidelines to degree programmes. 

Remote examinations are recommended. As of 1 June 2020, examinations critical for graduation can also be organised at the University. The Examinarium room at Aleksadria Learning Centre will be closed from 16 March to 16 August. Other Examinarium rooms remain open.

Because of the exceptional situation, it's possible until the end of fall semester 2020 to arrange doctoral 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 with safety distances. If a defence is held without remote access, it will not be automatically streamed for an outside audience. See further information on the page Doctoral defences and coronavirus.

Can contact teaching be arranged in some cases?

As of 1 June, examinations critical for graduation and critical field courses can be organised as contact teaching.

If imperative for an individual student’s graduation, faculties may issue instructions that derogate from the distance teaching instructions above. E.g. the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine can use exceptional solutions to organise practical studies.

It is recommended to organise some form of contact teaching to new students in the first teaching period. This helps to support the beginning of their studies and integrates them into the university community.

When organising any form of contact teaching, the safety of staff and students must be guaranteed through appropriate facility and hygiene arrangements and safety distances.

Should I arrange thesis supervision and other guidance remotely?

Remote supervision and guidance is recommended also for the fall term. In some cases, for example with PSP tutoring new students, normal guidance with safety distances can be considered.

Can I travel abroad for work purposes?

Travelling should be done with caution and after careful consideration, and it's important to consider the travelling recommendations of the The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland before travelling. When it comes to self-quarantine, please follow the guidelines set by the Finnish government.

Employees and students affiliated with the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) must observe the instructions issued by HUS as well as the specifications provided by the Faculty of Medicine. The dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will provide instructions for ensuring the operations of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

A student in my course says he/she is quarantined because of the coronavirus. What should I do?

At the moment, a student may be absent from (distance) education on his/her own notice. It is sufficient for students to report their illness to the teachers of their courses. The University does not require sickness leave certificates of its students, and the Student Health Services (YTHS) does not typically issue them. You should be prepared, as far as possible, to arrange alternative ways of completing the course.

How does the corona situation affect the degree reform schedule?

The transition period associated with the reform of first- and second-cycle degrees will be extended so that the deadline for graduating in accordance with the old degree requirements is 18 December 2020. Faculties will plan their schedules for submitting and assessing Masters' theses according to this new deadline. The extended deadline also applies to doctoral degrees.

How will the exceptional situation affect entrance exams?

A new website has been launched in Finnish and Swedish for applicants to the University of Helsinki, with information on the changes to admissions criteria caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Information specific to all faculties and degree programmes has been published on the website.

Students are asking about the status of student exchanges, where do I direct them?

Follow the Mobility Services information on the effect of the coronavirus on student exchanges. The information will be updated as the situation changes.

Should the examination results be published within one month also in the exceptional situation?

In the exceptional situation of the University, the results and grading of the examination and assignments must also be published no later than one month after the examination or the deadline for the assignment.

Only for a special justified reason (e.g. due to the illness of one's own or family member) can the publication time of results be 6 weeks. This exception is valid only for the duration of the exceptional situation caused by coronavirus. Any delay in publishing the results must be notified to the students as early as possible, no later than one month after the examination or the deadline for the coursework.

A student needs support in distant learning and well-being in this exceptional situation. Where do I direct the student?

You can direct the student to take a look at the Mental well-being instruction page, where we have listed diverse support services in this exceptional situation. The Study psychologists have gathered directions for distant learning in the Support for studies instruction page. In addition, the bulletin Online events for well-being is updated regularly.

Email address for coronavirus-related questions

If you have any questions about measures to be taken at the University as a result of the coronavirus, please send an email to All email messages will be answered by specialists in human resources and occupational health, facility and cleaning services, conferences and events, IT services, and teaching and learning services.

Read more about the situation

Further information can be obtained from

City Centre Campus

  • Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Theology: Anu Holvikivi, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 23351
  • Faculty of Educational Sciences: Virpi Kiljunen, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 28013 ( 6.-13.3. planning officer Christa Koski, p. 02941 20549)
  • Faculty of Law and Language Centre: Johanna Harju, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 24038
  • Faculty of Social Sciences: Mikko Vanhanen, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 24806

Kumpula Campus: Anne Palo-Kauppi, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 50061

Meilahti Campus: Linnea Lindh, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 26627

Viikki Campus:

  • Maika Strömberg, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 58021
  • Pia Saarinen, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 50601

International Exchange Services: Minna Koutaniemi, head of unit, phone 02941 22939

Admission services: Sini Saarenheimo, head of unit, phone 02941 22219

Open University: Sanna Saari-Salomeri, education specialist, phone 20941 02947