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Deputy-Ombudsman: Faculty of Medicine at Helsinki University favours students with advanced syllabus in Swedish

Changes needed in student admission practices

Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja finds that the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki favours applicants who have studied the advanced syllabus in Swedish in its student admissions to a Finnish degree programme by awarding them three additional points in the admission test.

Pajuoja considers this problematic in terms of the equal treatment of students.
- In reality, students who have completed the advanced syllabus in Swedish are treated preferentially in the stringent admission test.

Applicants to the Finnish degree programme in the Faculty of Medicine may only gain the maximum score, or 45 points, if they have studied the advanced syllabus in Swedish in the general upper secondary school. The maximum of basic points for students having studied the intermediate syllabus in Swedish is 42. 

Under the Universities Act, consistent admission criteria shall be applied to applicants belonging to the same group. Students applying to the medical faculties of other universities are awarded points for the grade they have achieved in the advanced syllabus, regardless of their choice of language.

In Pajuoja's opinion, it would be justified for the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki to change their student admission practice by introducing a system that does not discriminate against applicants who have completed different courses and types of education.

- The current situation can be seen as doubling up the so-called positive discrimination that addresses the educational needs of a certain linguistic group.

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki has a specific quota for Swedish speakers, with an intake of 38 students annually.

The complaint with the Parliamentary Ombudsman was filed by the farther of a general upper secondary school student who felt that an unreasonable advantage was given for the advanced syllabus in Swedish compared to other basic points.

The full text of Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja's decision no 1071/4/15 (in Finnish). Further information is available from Principal Legal Adviser Jorma Kuopus, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3385