Transparent procedures to ensure student selection and recognition of prior learning
LUT ensures transparency in its student selection process. As mentioned above, LUT informs about criteria for student admission and selection on both the Finnish and English websites as well as on the national Studyinfo website. The relevant websites include deadlines for application and procedures for admission as well as contact information for further enquiries.
Prior learning is assessed and recognised according to the university’s degree regulations, which includes credit transfer from other institutions as well as competences that were not obtained as a part of formal education. Procedures are transparent, and students reported that this procedure works well and regulations and procedures have been recently revised in accordance with the students.
A competence-based approach is used by teachers to align courses
The degree programme descriptions on the website give an overview of teaching methods and target-oriented learning. Samples from both Finnish- and English-taught programmes indicate a large variety of teaching and assessment methodologies. They comprise ‘traditional’ lectures and exams, but also group work, presentations, quizzes and continuous assessment. Teachers are up to date with modern instruction methodology and engage in individual advancement of the students, especially in practice-oriented learning environments such as laboratory work. Teachers are well aware of competence-based approaches and align their courses with the designated learning outcomes. This is certainly a strength in the university’s provision of education. On the one hand, students’ voices in the audit point out that the level of teaching may vary considerably for various reasons: A teacher might teach the course for the first time or be very busy with his or her research. On the other hand, there are also numerous examples of understanding, flexible, and student-oriented teachers. Students are obviously satisfied with the various interactive assignments, but they would like to have more facilities for group work, as both library and lunchroom are often too crowded.
Feedback on learning challenges teachers
Discussions among students and teachers during the audit visit touched on the aspect of heterogeneity within the student group, which might lead to different expectations and different capacities to organise oneself. The university provides students with digital information on studying efficiently and emphasises individual responsibility within the learning process. According to the course descriptions, many courses include both individual and group assignments as continuous assessment, which ensures constant feedback on personal learning progress. Teachers point out that the personal contact in the familiar atmosphere usually makes direct feedback easy but emphasise as well that students should familiarise themselves with the intended learning outcomes of the course more systematically. In return, students told that the amount and periodicity of feedback may vary considerably between degree programmes, teachers and courses.
The connection to professional life is promoted
The needs of working life are present in courses through practical assignments and laboratory work but also case studies with real companies. Company visits and presentations from companies on methods of product analysis and development introduce students to the world of work as well. There are also regular consultations with industry partners on programme-specific boards. Teachers use company projects in order to check their course content for industrial relevance. Feedback from future potential employers (also concerning prospective topics and perceivable trends in the respective branch) help to include working life relevant issues. Teachers pointed out that it is difficult, however, to practice soft skills—which are particularly important for working life—in an online environment. Despite this, teachers use their networks within the professional practice for enhancing courses. They also profit from doctoral students with practical experience, who introduce a new perspective to courses. In general, students appreciate the inclusion of work-related issues and the work in international student teams. However, some of the students reported during the audit visit that they would like to have even more practical assignments and more case studies as well as more support when entering the job market. According to the students, professors and teachers with a professional career only within the university could profit from more real-life projects, professional certificates or even industrial internships for the enhancement of their courses.
The university degree regulations include paragraphs on the recognition of studies at other higher education institutions. According to the degree programme descriptions, students may undertake part of their specialisation studies abroad. Besides, in accordance with the university degree regulations, all students receive a personal study plan that supports students in organising themselves. Students told during the audit visit that there is even a special exam room, where a student can schedule exams individually according to his or her personal timetable.
The well-being of students is promoted throughout their study path
The university offers various counselling and support services along the entire student life cycle, which cover study orientation, studies abroad and entering the job market. Counselling takes place in private meetings upon appointment with the study councellor, information specialist or in group meetings. There are special offers for doctoral students to ensure a good start within the programme. According to the interviews, the university regularly collects feedback data for continuous improvement, and support services discuss the results with both schools and student representatives. In case of stress or the risk of burnout, students may contact the study counselling psychologist. The personal study plan is an important tool for continuous guidance, as it is revised regularly. The university assures the well-being of students through various activities throughout the academic year. The student union systematically informs students about sports and the annual well-being week in both Finnish and English. There are also health services for students, including health weeks that address special issues such as mental health.
The university has recently updated its equality and discrimination plan, which contains actions for enhancing equality, such as improving international students’ representation in administrative bodies and guidelines on inappropriate conduct. The interviewees mentioned that the student union appointed harassment contact personnel.