1.3 The evaluation and enhancement of education

Assessment of the audit team

Enhancement of education is based on diverse feedback

Evaluation and further development of VAMK educational provision is based on various channels of feedback as well as institutional data and expert opinions. Important assessment data are derived from regular course feedback, the student Radar Survey and the graduate feedback questionnaire (AVOP), as well as from feedback from the labour market. Furthermore, all degree programmes are evaluated using performance indicators derived from the financial model, audits and self-assessment. The more efficient Radar feedback system concerning teaching methods was introduced in spring 2021 with results being handled in the unit meetings and by the teacher tutors. The audit visit confirmed that the assessment processes as well as the information derived from feedback and surveys continuously enhance teaching and learning and help to provide education that meets the needs of working life.

Students’ and graduates’ success are strategic areas for institutional development, thus both close cooperation and feedback from working life are essential indicators. Management and teaching staff receive regular feedback from working life through surveys, experts, master’s students, and project partners. Recently, VAMK has approached alumni for more feedback on achieved competences and their value for working life. The audit interviews confirmed that in this way, needs for change, amendments or new offers are taken up regularly as well as feedback on the assessment of the curricula and programmes on offer.

In the interview with VAMOK representatives, students described their experiences concerning feedback and discussion on the quality of teaching. They feel that teachers truly engage in building connections with students, and regularly gather student feedback during classes. The auditors also learned that VAMOK feels heard and involved. VAMOK has student representatives in all departments and they discuss feedback with students in different units. They experience that they have a significant influence within VAMK.

Students should be provided with feedback on their feedback

Recently, VAMK has implemented a new system for gathering student feedback on different levels within the institution: Spark for course feedback and the Radar survey for general feedback. The system is quite new, but students are positive about their first experiences with the new system. This system could support VAMK in gathering more structured feedback from students to enhance quality management.

VAMK staff is encouraged to discuss feedback with their students. As the institutional culture is impregnated by a collegial spirit and relations between teachers and students are rather informal, direct feedback is easy to place. A point of development, also indicated by students, is the provision of feedback on feedback. The institution gathers feedback regularly and reacts upon the feedback, but the transparency to students about follow-up actions could be more structured and consistent.

Continuous learning is a strategic development target for VAMK

Continuous learning is offered in different formats and covers training for working life partners as well as competence enhancement for staff, alumni, and students. Furthermore, open UAS studies offer a pathway to apply for bachelor’s degree programmes.

VAMK has started several initiatives to foster lifelong learning within the regional working field. Thus, professionals can attend courses of the degree programmes and some programmes also offer additional courses on specific relevant topics. The four main forms of continuous learning include open studies, specialisation studies, in-service education, and preparatory training for immigrants.

The audit interviews indicated that development of lifelong learning is partly based on VAMK teachers’ proposals for courses that may be of interest and relevance to stakeholders, and partly on specific requests from companies. The auditors encourage VAMK to further develop different forms of continuous learning on a more systematic basis and follow periodic needs analyses as well as predictive market trends analyses; thus, VAMK can react systematically and timely to learning needs in the region.