The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has conducted an audit of South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk) and has awarded the institution a quality label that is valid for six years from 24 February 2021. The quality system of Xamk meets the national criteria for quality management in higher education institutions and corresponds to the European principles and guidelines.
The strengths of Xamk in the development of its operations and quality management are its strong role as a regional developer, agility in addressing areas that require development and the quality system that serves as a basis for the development of its operation. The uniform organisational culture created at Xamk after the merger supports the achievement of the targets set for the institution’s impact. The quality system of Xamk is strongly linked to the institution’s strategic goals, and the information produced by the system is used diversely in management and the enhancement of the operations.
The pedagogical development programme of Xamk brings unity to the enhancement of the degree programmes and directs the activities towards the future. The strengths of the education at Xamk include connections with workplaces, extensive provision of continuous learning, diverse learning environments and extensive support and welfare services for students. As the benchlearning partner for the audit, Xamk had selected Henan University from China, with which it worked on issues related to students’ study path.
The Chair of the audit team, Jaana Ignatius from Laurea University of Applied Sciences, commented on the audit in the following way:
“We were impressed with the way quality work has succeeded in creating uniform operating methods and practices that are systematically used to assess and develop the activities. Uniform operating practices have formed the basis for a participatory, interactive and agile quality culture that creates a strong regional impact.”
Procedures used in quality management and operational development are the result of long-term work
The audit team gave Xamk the grade “excellent” for the evaluation area “HEI enhances quality and well-being”. Quality management at Xamk relies on systematic and continuous long-term development of the operations. It is based on combining the good practices of the higher education institutions that merged to form the institution. Xamk has diverse procedures for personnel development and well-being at work. It offers a wide range of personnel training, the staff has access to working life periods, and occupational health care is comprehensive.
Customer relations management and internationalisation as development targets
Xamk has a wide network of stakeholders, with which it works in close cooperation. The development of customer relations management has already been initiated, but the work has not been completed as yet. For this reason, the regional development work of Xamk is partly scattered and fragmented. The audit team recommends that Xamk continue the development of customer relations management so that the effectiveness of regional development work will increase further. In addition, it is recommended that Xamk engage its stakeholders, especially its business cooperation partners, more diversely in the planning and development of the education and in foresight.
The audit team recommends that internationalisation be given a stronger role in the planning of the education and the development of the learning environments. Xamk has set operation as a genuinely international higher education institution as its goal and has launched development measures for achieving this.
Diverse learning environments provide additional value to operation
The audit area selected by Xamk was Learning environments supporting the integration of teaching and RDI. Xamk has several diverse learning environments in its main fields of education. The high volume of RDI activities efficiently enhances the integration of teaching and RDI activities. The interactive operating culture and the support measures in RDI activities, such as the electronic Hansa system for project activities and the model of working life pedagogy, enhance the integration of the activities.
In future, the teaching staff should already be involved more firmly in the planning stage of the projects. The dynamic nature of the learning environments and their relevance to working life must be constantly taken care of. In addition, it must be ensured that the agile operating models developed in some of the fields of education can be disseminated to wider use at Xamk. In addition, the audit team recommends that Xamk also define comprehensive internationalisation targets and measures for the development of the learning environments and the integration of RDI activities and teaching.
Finland launched the audits of quality systems of higher education institutions in 2005. The audit report is available on FINEEC’s digital audit platform: Audit of the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk)
- Jaana Ignatius, Chair of the audit team, tel. +358 46 856 7468, jaana.ignatius(at)laurea.fi
- Kati Isoaho, Senior Evaluation Advisor, Project manager of the audit, tel. +358 29 533 5519, kati.isoaho(at)karvi.fi