The University of Helsinki passed the quality audit conducted by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) with an international team of peer reviewers. The university has good systems and structures in place for planning, management, follow-up and improvement of its activities. Among others, the university gave strong evidence of long-standing, university-level development of degree programmes and teaching, which has transformation in university pedagogy at the core.
The audit team appreciated the open and self-critical discussion culture at the university
The university has developed its management, steering and quality systems towards an integrated management system. The system provides better support for the management of the university and the systematic implementation of its strategic objectives. The system is currently rather complex, and the university is encouraged to streamline the system for better usability and effectiveness.
The university has a high capability to gather information on its activities, to use that information to identify challenges and to take the actions required for further improvement.
– The University of Helsinki is a real learning organisation, learning from itself and from others, in a continuous improvement cycle (PDCA). There is a self-critical and open culture for discussion and collaboration at the university. The university could still improve the process from data to actions and the follow-up of the actions, says Bernard Coulie, the chair of the audit team and professor at UCLouvain.
The university has clear structures and responsibilities for societal engagement
The history, the size and the specific location of the University of Helsinki in the city and the country serve as the basis for its intense network of relationships with external stakeholders. The university also wants to have a strong global influence and to be an influential social force. The university has good operations planning and management structures in place with clearly assigned responsibilities for societal engagement. Some leadership and systematisation are still lacking in societal engagement.
– An official shared definition of what societal engagement and impact mean for the university as a whole would make it easier to translate the university’s ambition in defined goals and ways, and to support it, says professor Coulie.
The University of Helsinki is a research-intensive university and the ambition to contribute to reforming society is central to its strategy. Substantial progress has, among others, been made at the university in supporting innovation activities and business collaboration.
The university’s degree education is professionally managed
The university has put a lot of effort into reforming its degree education, including its degree programmes and how they are managed. What is exemplary at the university is its research-based approach linked to pedagogical training and support offered to the university teachers, and at the same time driving the transformation in university pedagogy.
– The overall impression is that the degree programmes are well managed. In general, there is a positive spirit and atmosphere at the university encouraging pedagogical experimentation, developing teaching skills, and having a focus on students learning, says Klara Bolander Laksov, professor at the University of Stockholm, member of the audit team.
Although the student experiences were in overall positive, the experiences of students varied across the university. The university will need to look at the challenges raised in the audit concerning teaching, supervision, support and guidance.
One of the evaluation areas of the audit, a topic chosen by the university, focused on the university’s concept of international master’s programmes. Among others, the audit team recommends that the university explicates its strategic goals for internationalisation of education, and the roles of different international programmes in this strategy.
Improvements made on student feedback are not very visible to students
Several channels for student feedback are used at the university and have an established role in the quality management of teaching and learning. The responsibilities and processes for course- and programme-level student feedback could be further clarified in order to close the feedback loop.
– When improvements and developments are made on feedback, it is important to make them visible, so that students and doctoral students can see that their feedback matters, says Signe Tolstrup Mathiasen, member of the audit team, student at Lund University.
As a result of the successful audit, the University of Helsinki received a FINEEC quality label valid until 26 January 2028. By passing the audit, the university showed that its activities and quality system meet both the national criteria and the European quality assurance criteria for higher education institutions. The focus of the audit is on the procedures used by the HEI to maintain and enhance the quality of its educational provision, research and societal engagement and impact. The evaluation criteria applied in the audit are available in the FINEEC audit manual.
The audit report has been published on the FINEEC audit platform.
For further information, please contact
Bernard Coulie, chair of the audit team, bernard.coulie(at)uclouvain.be
Mirella Nordblad, project manager of the audit, +358 29 533 5541, mirella.nordblad(at)karvi.fi