Quality label to Oulu University of Applied Sciences – ‘the mornings for good practices’ and ‘the project dates’ received praise

Suvi Skantz

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has conducted an audit of Oulu University of Applied Sciences and has awarded the institution a quality label that is valid for six years from 22 March 2018. The quality system of Oulu UAS meets the national criteria for quality management in higher education institutions and corresponds to the European quality assurance principles and recommendations in higher education.

According to the audit team, Oulu UAS develops its quality system widely and with long-term goals. The quality system of Oulu UAS is open to everyone and covers the activities of the whole higher education institution. Internal assessments in the institution have been used in developing the system. Systematic and established quality management practices promote the development of degree education and achieving the goals set for it.

Quality system based on shared values and continuous development

According to the audit, the quality policy of Oulu UAS is underpinned by shared values, which are togetherness, partnership with working life, willingness to develop and high performance. Activities in accordance with the values are important and visible to all members of the higher education community. All key development activities have also been linked to the agreed values. Internal audits and self-assessments, in particular, have provided comprehensive information for the development of the activities.

The quality system of Oulu UAS is based on the cycle of continuous development. According to the audit team, the system forms a uniform and effective whole that supports the organisation. Based on the audit, good practices and openings at Oulu UAS particularly include mornings for good practices, motivation metrics, the management’s quality reviews and project dates.

Compared to the previous audit conducted in 2012, Oulu UAS has clearly harmonised its operating practices and operating culture with the help of an organisational change. At the same time, service units have adapted to the smaller number of personnel.

Strengths include commitment to quality work and an enthusiastic atmosphere that promotes dialogue

The audit team praised the clear and comprehensive description of the roles and responsibilities of the different actors in Oulu UAS’s quality system. Special attention has been paid to the description of the responsibilities at Oulu UAS, and the management group and the supervisors have committed themselves strongly to quality work. The commitment of the personnel was demonstrated especially by the high quality of their own activities. However, according to the audit team, the personnel’s commitment to the quality management of the entire Oulu UAS could be clarified.

Togetherness and doing things together were emphasised as important channels of influence in many of the activities at Oulu UAS. The atmosphere at Oulu UAS is indeed enthusiastic, open and promotes a dialogue. However, feedback received from the dialogue is not part of the feedback system determined by the institution itself and no systematic method has been created to process it. Effectiveness could be extended by improving the processing of feedback data received from students and stakeholders and by taking advantage of the information obtained this way in the development of the entire higher education institution.

Internationalisation and innovation from the Oamk LABs learning environment

In the Oamk LABs learning environment, which was the optional audit target chosen by Oulu UAS itself, multidisciplinary and international teams develop new concepts, products, services and new business activities for the chosen target sectors.  According to the audit, the activities of Oamk LABs are characterised by a particularly international and innovative approach and an experimental operating culture. The audit team was of the view that spreading the operating culture of Oamk LABs more widely in the organisation would support the institution’s strategic policy, which is aimed at promoting internationalisation through cooperation with working life.

The report of the audit team

Further information:

Merja Heino, Chair of the audit team, merja.heino@saimia.fi, tel. +358 40 760 5533

Karl Holm, Counsellor of Evaluation, Finnish Education Evaluation Centre, karl.holm@karvi.fi, tel. +358 29 533 5509