1.3 The evaluation and enhancement of education

Assessment of the audit team

LUT should continue its work to improve course evaluations

In cooperation with the student unions and student associations on campus, the university regularly collects online feedback from the students. Teacher tutors and heads of degree programmes are visible as responsible people, and students may address them as well for initiating improvement. According to the audit visit, most teaching staff improve courses due to feedback from students, and direct discussions with professors and teachers have led to improvement in teaching and assessment methodology. However, the response rates to the course feedback survey are low, which makes it difficult to close the PDCA cycle appropriately. This is not a phenomenon restricted to LUT, as evaluation fatigue seems to be a general problem among students. According to the discussions during the audit visit, one reason could be that students do not see any effect of their ideas for improvement, as feedback is usually collected once the course is over, and the teacher for the course might not be the same person in the next term. The university should review current routines for course evaluations and take measures to strengthen the role of course evaluations in their quality system. Such work should include routines for collecting feedback, which can take into account the time and periodicity of the feedback collection, as well as qualitative methods and analysis of documents, which are produced anyway (so-called non-responsive methods). This could include a systematic analysis of learning diaries or a closer look at student chats in the flipped classroom. LUT staff interviewed during the audit visit made the last two suggestions themselves, and this approach would comply with both the size and innovative spirit of the university.  The university should also consider a more systematic reflection of the feedback results and a discussion of possible solutions for improvement with the students, which might be beneficial for response rates as well.

International accreditations have enhanced degree-level quality management

The university collects feedback and data throughout the year with a strong focus on graduates’ performance in working life. There are key figures that are monitored regularly on various organisational levels. These key figures concern, for instance, employment rates and salary levels of graduates. The audit team highlights this systematic approach with clear responsibilities between management, schools, administration and third space, although the extensive data might sometimes be difficult to handle. In addition to that, international accreditations have contributed considerably to the enhancement of quality work on the programme level. The interviewees highlighted international accreditation for the introduction of new, systematic approaches to quality assurance at LUT University. During the past few years, the university has introduced continuous improvements according to the accreditation results and has worked on learning outcomes, their implementation and the employability of graduates. Therefore, these accreditations have been much more for the university than only a seal from an accreditation body.

As far as the changing needs of society are concerned, the university receives input for enhancement from external stakeholders on the University Board and various advisory boards. The university offers various opportunities for continuous learning, which is more a grown concept than a strategic or systematic approach. The university is aware of this issue, but according to the interviews, much depends on available funding as well.

The needs of staff and students are considered in the development of support services

Support services rely on direct feedback from the students. There are special workshops and surveys addressing various needs of the students for different purposes as well as an open feedback possibility in the intranet. The university acknowledges the need of adapting service to user groups with different educational, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Regular formal and informal meetings on the support service directors’ level as well as within the teams ensure that the units reflect upon the feedback results and also upcoming issues, such as the pandemic. Theme-specific meetings complete the enhancement of the service quality. In addition to that, interviewees emphasised the importance of their national network to learn about best practices at other institutions and apply them to the needs of LUT.