University of Turku received a quality label – functioning of the quality system has significantly improved

Higher education Sara Juntunen

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre has conducted a re-audit of University of Turku and has awarded the university a quality label that is valid for six years from 16 June 2017. The quality system of University of Turku fulfils the national criteria and corresponds to the European quality assurance principles and recommendations for higher education institutions.

In the initial audit conducted in 2014-2015 University of Turku did not meet the national audit criteria set for quality systems. The development of the quality system required actions from the institution and a re-audit. In the re-audit the audit team focused on evaluating the quality system as a whole, development of the quality system and quality management of societal impact.

According to the audit team, the University of Turku has systematically developed its quality system based on feedback of the initial audit.

“The University of Turku has taken several measures that have led to improvement in the functioning, comprehensiveness and transparency of the quality system”, says the Chair of the Audit Team, Professor Jari Niemelä from the University of Lausanne.

The University has developed the quality system parallel to the renewal of the strategy of the University. As a result, the new strategy is now closely linked to quality management. Simultaneously, the University has streamlined the annual planning and reporting system which has increased the uniformity and impact of quality management across the faculties and units. Additionally, the revised quality manual and intranet have improved the transparency of the quality system within the entire university community.

Central procedures for quality management in education consist of the curriculum renewal process and utilisation of student feedback. As regards to quality management of research the University utilises regular external international evaluation which was seen as a good practice by the audit team. In addition, the quality management of the University of Turku Graduate School (UTUGS) has been developed notably in recent years.

Students are supported in their career planning by a mentoring programme

The audit conducted in 2015 identified the need to develop the quality management of societal interaction. The re-audit in 2017 indicated that the University of Turku has significantly improved the quality management of societal interaction and integrated it as a part of the quality system. External stakeholders have been involved in development work more than earlier. Feedback from external stakeholders has had a positive impact for instance on the strategy of the University and curriculum development. The audit team sees the adoption of advisory boards in all faculties is an important initiative to further develop communication with external stakeholders.

“The University has a functioning mentoring programme to support students in working life placements. Furthermore, increasing attention is being paid to the working life skills provided by the degrees. According to students, they have good possibilities to contribute to the development of education. The students feel that their feedback has a significant role in developing of actions”, says Professor Niemelä.

The audit team concluded that the open and communicative quality culture is one of the strengths of the University of Turku. Internal communication has been supported by the rectorate’s visits to the units and Rector’s regular meetings with the Student Union representatives. Additionally, based on an inclusive strategy preparation process, the staff is highly aware of common strategic goals and are strongly committed to them.

The University has solid plans in place on how to develop the quality system further. The audit team encourages the University of Turku to continue the development of quality management based on its own goals and needs.

Quality systems of all higher education institutions have been audited

Audits of quality systems of higher education institutions began in Finland in 2005. All universities and universities of applied sciences have participated in the audits. The second audit cycle will be soon completed and the third cycle is about to begin.

Report:

Jari Niemelä, Agneta Bladh, Martin Galevski, Leena Sarvaranta, Sirpa Moitus & Marja-Liisa Saarilammi 2017: Re-audit of the University of Turku 2017. The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.

For more information, please contact:

Jari Niemelä, Chair of the Audit Team, tel +358 29 415 7849, jari.niemela(at)helsinki.fi

Sirpa Moitus, Project Manager, tel. +358 29 533 5518, sirpa.moitus(at)karvi.fi