Quality label to Saimaa University of Applied Sciences – systematic development of quality management has produced results

Higher education Mirella Nordblad


The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre has conducted an audit of Saimaa University of Applied Sciences and has awarded the institution a quality label that is valid for six years from 24 February 2017. The quality system of Saimaa University of Applied Sciences fulfils the national criteria set for the quality management of higher education institutions and corresponds to the European quality assurance principles and recommendations for higher education institutions.

According to the audit team the quality system of Saimaa UAS has been continuously and systematically developed. Both internal audits and external audits in co-operation with Karelia University of Applied Sciences have been used successfully in the development work. As a result the UAS has systematic and established quality management procedures that advance the development of degree education and the achievement of goals set for it. Also, the administrative and evaluation procedures for research, development and innovation projects are systematic. For example, a separate evaluation and feedback plan is prepared for all projects in order to get relevant feedback that is useful for developing the operations. The audit team sees that when compared to the previous audit in 2011, the quality system works better that before.

Internationalisation is a strength but more effort should be put into connecting international students with local companies

The freely selected audit target chosen by Saimaa UAS was International Operations and during the audit, internationalisation appeared strong to the audit team.

There is an international operational culture that permeates through the whole organisation. This creates a solid foundation for developing the institution towards its vision as the most international higher education institution in Finland says the Chair of the audit team, the rector of Turku University of Applied Sciences Vesa Taatila.

Regarding further development of the international operations the audit team encourages Saimaa UAS to develop ways to connect international students with local companies. This would support both the internationalisation of the small and medium-sized companies in the region and the integration of international students to the region.

The audit team also gave other recommendations for further development of the institution’s quality system. The new strategy of Saimaa UAS has introduced more qualitative goals than what was in the previous strategy. According to the audit team, the institution should develop systematic procedures for gathering, analysing and utilising information as a management tool concerning its qualitative goals. It would especially benefit the development of the societal impact and regional development work, as well as the development of international operations.

The audit report also highlights that the institution obtains a great deal of useful information through informal channels that in the audit team’s view could be made better use of.For example the feedback given by students during teaching, or the information gained while cooperating with external stakeholders, might not currently be fully exploited. The institution would benefit from looking into procedures that would allow systematic utilisation of this kind of information within the quality system. The new procedures, however, should be designed not to cause excess workload, continues the Chair of the audit team Vesa Taatila, rector of Turku UAS.

The audit report is available on FINEEC’s webpage at https://karvi.fi/en/publication/

For more information, please contact:

Chair of the audit team, Rector Vesa Taatila, vesa.taatila@turkuamk.fi, tel +358 50 598 5761

Project manager of the audit, Senior Advisor Touko Apajalahti, touko.apajalahti@karvi.fi, tel +358 29533 5502