Individual arrangements

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These guidelines are intended to help teachers when students need individual arrangements to support their learning. More information about applying for individual arrangements and the related practical measures is available under Instructions for Students.

What are individual arrangements?

Individual arrangements are individual support measures intended to support learning and to promote student equality and accessibility in studies. In accordance with the University’s degree requirements, students in the process of completing their studies or applying to become students are entitled to apply for individual arrangements on the basis of a physical handicap, sensory disability, physical or mental illness or problem, a problem related to reading or writing or another cognitive impairment.  

Individual arrangements can include: 

  • Additional time for completing an examination or returning an assignment 
  • A smaller or separate examination room 
  • Alternative course completion methods 
  • Handing out lecture material in advance 
  • Using a computer in examination situations 

Individual arrangements must be based on an identified need which students verify with a statement by a professional or if the need becomes otherwise clear in the teaching context. The arrangements are practical solutions which do not include compromising the level of difficulty of an entrance examination, the objectives of a degree or the learning outcomes of individual courses.  

For detailed instructions concerning individual arrangements in examination situations, see individual arrangements in examination situations.  

The students do not need a statement for using aids, a personal assistant or a guide dog in teaching situations. However, in connection with an exam, the student may need a statement in order to be provided with a separate exam room and the right to use aids or a personal assistant. This is done through the Exam Services Accessibility Liaison.   

What is my role as a teacher if a student needs individual arrangements?

Students usually contact teachers themselves when they need individual arrangements. When needed, your task as a teacher is to negotiate individual arrangements with the student, for example additional time for returning an assignment or alternative course completion methods.  

Individual arrangements do not include compromising course learning outcomes. This means that students must meet the established goals of the course even if they require individual arrangements. If necessary, consult a Student Services accessibility liaison at specialneeds@helsinki.fi or a study psychologist of the individual arrangements expert panel at erityisjarjestelyryhma@helsinki.fi. For more information, see the end of this page. 

If necessary, you can request students to present evidence of the need for individual arrangements. The evidence can include a medical statement or a statement by another professional or a recommendation issued by the University’s individual arrangements expert panel. You are not allowed to take a copy of the evidence or recommendation presented by the student. If students send electronic statements, do not save them. When being in contact with a student by email, confidential email is recommended.    

The student service points have accessibility liaisons. They maintain a record of students who have been granted the right to individual arrangements. The information is confidential. However, the accessibility liaisons can, if necessary, provide information about the individual arrangements recommended for a specific student. For more information and to contact the accessibility liaisons, please send an email to specialneeds@helsinki.fi.  

 

Individual arrangements in the exceptional situation

Remote studying and the exceptional situation in itself is demanding for students. Assuming new ways of studying can take a lot of time and resources. It is important to take this into consideration when planning your course. Estimating the work load of distance teaching can be challenging even for teachers. As a rule, studying remotely is more demanding for students than attending contact teaching. 

Individual arrangements can also be different in this exceptional situation. The students that previously needed additional time in examinations will most likely need it in online exams as well. In some courses, examinations have been replaced with written assignments. In that case, additional time to complete the assignment may be necessary.

The schedule of a single course can seem relaxed, but students usually have several courses at the same time. If every course requires weekly assignments, the need for additional time rises from this combination of courses.

Examples

  • Dyslexia causes a need for additional time for assignments and exams, if they include a lot of writing and reading.
  • Attention deficit disorder makes independent studying difficult. Make sure you give clear instructions. Additional time can also be necessary. Some students can benefit from group assignments.
  • Social anxiety or autism spectrum disorders can cause challenges in group activities. If a lecture based course has been replaced with group assignments, individual arrangements may be needed. Video conferences can also be difficult for some students, which can increase the risk of dropping the course. Different methods of group work can support studying in these situations.

Tips for teachers

  • Pay attention to the clarity of your instructions on online platforms (short sentences, concrete examples).
  • Be mindful of the students' stress levels; students can feel overwhelmed by e.g. the amount of assignments, unclear instructions, multiple group assignments, technical challenges and/or time management demands.
  • Make sure the course material is easy to access.
  • Be prepared to be flexible with deadlines, you can plan your policy about deadlines beforehand.
  • Think about alternative ways of completing the course in advance.
  • Contact students that seem to struggle with meeting deadlines.

Recording lectures

Due to the copyright protection of the teacher, the recording of the lecture is only allowed if the teacher has given permission for the recording. Therefore, the student must request separate permission from the teacher of each course to record the lecture. The teacher can discuss with the student whether simply recording the sound is a sufficient operation or whether a picture is needed. In most cases, audio alone will be enough if lecture slides are available.

In both cases, the recording must be made in such a way that other students do not appear in or hear the recording. Otherwise, the permit must also be obtained from these students. What is important, however, is that all students know that the lecture is recorded, no one is shown on the recording and the recording is not published anywhere. It might also be reasonable to agree that the recording will stop immediately after the lecture so that everyone has the opportunity to ask questions or discuss the lecture when the recording is not on.

Permission to photograph should be requested and given written. The permit should make it clear that although the student has been given the right to record the lecture for his or her own use, the permit does not entitle the student to show or publish the recording to outsiders. Even an oral agreement to record is valid, but in cases of misuse, proving an oral agreement is challenging.

What should I do if a student needs extra support in using Sisu?

If a student is not able to use Sisu due to the accessibility issues in Sisu (for example due to visual impairment), ask them to contact specialneeds@helsinki.fi. The accessibility liaison and if needed the educational planning officer will help a student to draw up the study plan and register for courses online or in person. They do not need a doctor’s certificate to get extra support in using Sisu.

Students have a right to reasonable individual arrangements

After students have presented evidence of the need for individual arrangements, they have right to reasonable arrangements. This right is based on the Non-discrimination Act (1325/2014, 15 §). In addition, at the University of Helsinki, the procedures are founded on the decision of the vice-rector from 2017.

As a rule, offering as accessible teaching as possible serves both teachers and students by reducing the need for individual arrangements. From the viewpoint of individual arrangements, accessibility may mean diverse teaching methods and alternative course completion methods. If the teaching preparations are not accessible enough for an individual student because of an illness or another hindrance, the student is entitled to get reasonable individual arrangements based on the individual need. 

Reasonable individual arrangements are not merely the individual responsibility of the teacher, but rather a question of what kind of practical arrangements the degree program or the university can offer. If the arrangements take up a lot of your work time, discuss the question of resources and options for example with the degree program director. It is good to consider the question of reasonable individual arrangements in the context of curriculum development and for each course separately. Considering possible individual arrangements in advance can significantly reduce the burden on individual teachers.  

The individual arrangements expert panel has issued general recommendations for accommodating different challenges that can hinder learning in a teaching context. The recommendations are available under Recommendations for special learning challenges. Because students’ situations vary, sometimes it is difficult to establish what kind of individual arrangements are motivated, reasonable and justifiable. If you’re facing a difficult situation and need more information and support, please contact the study psychologists of the individual arrangements expert panel at erityisjarjestelyryhma@helsinki.fi

Pedagogical solutions can help reduce the need for individual arrangements

When planning your teaching it is important to take into consideration in what kind of ways it could be possible for the students to complete the courses in order to meet the established goals of the courses.  As a part of the planning process it is useful to think about alternative course completion methods. As a rule, the more alternative course completion methods you offer, the less individual arrangements will usually be needed. 

It is possible to utilize different methods of examination and assessment within a single study module. This diversity of teaching supports the learning of all students. There may thus be alternative ways of examination and assessment within a course, as long as they are in line with the learning objectives of the course. For example, if the aim of the course is to adopt key theories and concepts in the field, competence can, as an alternative to a written exam, be assessed with an oral exam, essays, diaries or group work.

Even small pedagogical solutions may reduce the need for individual arrangements and benefit all students. These practical solutions may include:

  • Submitting a list of any difficult concepts outlined in the course content to the students in advance. 
  • Not talking at times when students are busy taking notes. 
  • Providing sufficient time for taking notes.
  • Taking pauses during lectures.  
  • Exercise breaks are healthy!
  • Avoiding long assignments. 
  • Discussing any written instructions.

For more useful tips on how to address special challenges in a teaching situation, see Recommendations for special learning challenges.

 

Individual arrangements in examination situations

In an examination situation, individual arrangements usually refer to additional time, the use of a computer or a separate examination room. These arrangements are based on the identified need like any other individual arrangements. For detailed instructions concerning individual arrangements in exams, see individual arrangements in examination situations.

When planning exams, it is important to pay attention to how they evaluate the learning outcomes of the course. For example, setting very strict time-limits for exams may end up measuring mostly processing speed or stress tolerance, rather than how well the student understands or applies information. Time-pressure is also likely to increase the need for individual arrangements. 

 When a student needs additional time to complete an examination due to a handicap, illness or other reason (e.g. dyslexia), the recommended amount of additional time is 30 minutes per examination of less than three hours and one hour per examination of more than three hours. Because individual arrangements aim to provide individualized support for students, even more additional time may be motivated. In cases of short exams lasting under 30 minutes, a more suitable individual arrangement may be to offer an alternative way to complete the assignment, e.g. essay or oral exam. 

If a student needs individual arrangements in examinations, agree with the student as early as possible on the kind of arrangements that are possible in order to achieve the learning outcomes of the course. When needed, consult the accessibility liaison at student services through specialneeds@helsinki.fi, or the study psychologist of the individual arrangements expert panel at erityisjarjestelyryhma@helsinki.fi

Accessibility liaisons

The student service points have accessibility liaisons, whom you can contact when you have questions regarding individual arrangements. 
For more information and to contact the accessibility liaisons, please send an email to specialneeds@helsinki.fi

The accessibility liaisons and their service points are:  

City Centre Campus

Karoliina Korhonen, Kruununhaka 

Taru Kamke and Marianna Ruutala, Metsätalo

Piia Aidantausta, Porthania

Johanna Puustinen and Anita Holm, Siltavuori 

Tipsa Saikko, examination services Centrum

Kumpula

Hanna-Mari Kivinen, Kumpula

Jukka Nieminen, examination services Kumpula and Viikki

Meilahti

Veera Ala-Louko, Meilahti

Karoliina Pakkanen, examination services Meilahti

Viikki

Leena Suominen, Viikki

Jukka Nieminen, examination services Kumpula and Viikki

Open university 

Anne Pääkkönen, Open university 

Individual arrangements expert panel

The university has an expert panel on individual arrangements appointed by the vice-rector, the purpose of which is to draw up practical guidelines related to individual arrangements, to guide staff in matters related to individual arrangements and to participate in various discussions and preparatory tasks. The group of experts includes study psychologists, accessibility liaison officers, pedagogical experts, an equality officer and a lawyer. You can contact the group at erityisjarjestelyryhma@helsinki.fi.

Students may apply for a recommendation from the expert panel. You can suggest that a student applies for a recommendation, for example, in a situation where the statements shown by the student do not sufficiently specify the types of individual arrangements that are recommended, or there is no consensus on the arrangements. A recommendation can also be applied for, for example, if a student does not want to show a statement of the need for individual arrangements or if he or she has several different illnesses or disabilities, and individual arrangements are repeatedly needed. More information on applying can be found in the instructions for students.

The individual arrangements expert panel has issued general recommendations for accommodating different challenges that can hinder learning in a teaching context. The recommendations are available under Recommendations for teachers concerning special situations.

Useful links to support services

See also the Instructions for Students

You will find related content for students on the Instructions for Students Service.