1.2 The implementation of education

Auditointiryhmän arvio

Students are provided with a variety of teaching methods but should be provided feedback on their learning

UTU’s regulations regarding studies and admission are transparent and understandable. The University’s website contains all relevant information, although the English websites are occasionally hard to navigate. UTU applies the regulations and provisions regarding recognition of prior learning consistently and transparently.

The University of Turku provides a rich menu of teaching and assessment methods to support students’ target-oriented learning. The interviewed students mentioned, for instance, discussions, simulations, learning diaries, learning games and video production. UTU teachers are encouraged to use blended, contact and remote teaching and continuously develop their teaching.

There is a high level of satisfaction, especially among the interviewed master’s students, with the flexibility of course provisions and skills provided towards professional life. The students appreciated the flexibility of curricula structures, free choice of minors from a wide range of provisions, possibilities for specialisations within the programmes and flexibility to study on different UTU campuses.

Flexible study paths between different higher education institutions are also part of a successful learning experience. The close cooperation and cross-study opportunities between the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi and the Turku University of Applied Sciences support these. However, the possibilities of flexible learning pathways could be further developed and made more widely known to students.

Based on the audit interviews, especially bachelor’s students wish for more feedback on their learning. Some interviewed students explained this as a lack of exam feedback, so they struggle to understand their primary knowledge deficits. Other students stated that personalised feedback is available when they ask for it. UTU has identified these challenges and is working to solve them. The audit team recommends UTU to continue seeking a variety of ways to give students feedback on their learning to support the achievement of learning objectives.

The question of sufficient feedback on learning is also driven by growing student demand for individualised feedback, which teaching staff cannot always supply. An increase in technical support, for instance, automated feedback or even the use of AI, as well as compulsory teaching trainings could help improve feedback management.

Student progress is supported by study planning processes and monitored at a higher level by the UTU Management Team, the University Board and as part of the faculties’ annual planning processes. The audit visit showed that quantitative monitoring is being improved through the knowledge-based management initiative (see Chapter 3.1). Monitoring doctoral researchers’ progress within the doctoral school is overseen by UTUGS and through an annual career and review discussion. As mentioned in the audit interviews, monitoring the doctoral researchers’ study progress outside the doctoral school has proved more challenging.

Entrepreneurial skills are integrated into some courses but are not yet on a visible level in all programmes

The University of Turku aims to be an entrepreneurial university. Demonstrating UTU’s aspiration to improve its entrepreneurial approach further, it chose to undergo an external accreditation process focusing on entrepreneurship. The audit team commends the University of Turku as the first Finnish university to receive the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU) accreditation label.

Entrepreneurial skills are integrated into some courses but not yet on a visible level in all programmes. Based on graduate feedback, which was handled by the audit team as additional audit material from UTU, currently only a small proportion of students feel that their studies develop entrepreneurial skills and competencies.

The audit team recommends that UTU continue developing entrepreneurship studies and strengthening entrepreneurial skills in its curricula. A more systematic approach to cooperation with the corporate sector could improve students’ entrepreneurial skills and seeing entrepreneurship as a career option.

The University of Turku has invested a lot in guiding and supporting students in a variety of ways, but services need increased visibility

UTU emphasises supporting students and offers several forms of guidance and support services to support academic study skills, study and career planning progress and psychological and general well-being. Based on interviews, 2023 has been designated as the Year of Student Guidance at UTU, implying that teachers promote guidance services for students and that every teacher should know them. Overall, interviewed students appreciated available guidance and well-being services and teacher tutoring.

In addition to the guidance provided by the University, the Student Union also plays a vital role in providing student tutoring and peer support and contributing to the development of UTU services. On the Student Union’s initiative, the University of Turku has launched an online Mind programme, including a trained peer, mentoring services and student events. The Student Union has also developed an own policy for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), independently from UTU.

Despite the wide range of supplies and all available information on guidance and well-being services on the intranet, some students still feel it is difficult to find this information. A big step forward in gathering information on student services in one place will be introducing the Tuudo application, which students look forward to.

The audit interviews highlighted student well-being issues, in particular the requirement of perfection many students set for themselves, loneliness and reintegration into studies after a period of isolation during the pandemic. In order to ensure student well-being, the risks of study burnout need to be minimised. The audit team recommends that UTU pursue the work to ensure that support services are visible and accessible. It should continue interacting with students to analyse their well-being issues and develop preventive measures.