Metropolia supports transparent students’ admission and competence-based flexible study paths
Metropolia has clear guidelines and procedures for student admission. All relevant information on student admission and the progression of studies is included in Metropolia’s degree regulations so that the information regarding the recognition of prior learning is easily accessible and transparent on Metropolia’s website—in both Finnish and English.
In the interviews, it also became evident that these regulations are primarily used in practice. A particular example is the SIMHE project, where Metropolia provides immigrant students with counselling and services for the identification of competences which could be subject to recognising prior learning (RPL). However, the auditors also received a few indications from the student interviews that the RPL is based on individual judgement and may therefore vary in accordance with the individual interpretation of regulations. Regarding recognising prior learning, Metropolia should ensure a common understanding and consistency among administrative and academic personnel.
Education supports target-oriented learning
According to Metropolia’s strategy, the focus is on student-centred teaching, learning processes and the diversity of students and their needs. Interviews with teachers and students confirm that the intended learning outcomes and student life cycles are well organised. Metropolia offers students a sufficiently solid subject-specific core, which enables the students to reach the envisaged learning outcomes. This approach complies with intending to offer students different disciplinary perspectives.
The audit team learned that the flexibility of the curriculum and a good mix of compulsory and eligible modules, which the students appreciate, allows students to realise the programmes’ intentions. Students can create their own course portfolios and choose classes from different disciplines or higher education institutions.
Studies are integrated well with working life through learning environments
The audit team acknowledges that study modules involve critical reflection on key topics, verbal discussion and the written analysis and interpretation of the relevant material. Lectures, staff-led seminars and project work promote general intellectual and domain-specific skills. The audit team appreciates the contextual and phenomenon-based approach and the workshop-based teaching methods, especially through a work placement (part of the studies), thesis work and the already mentioned multidisciplinary innovation project studies (MINNO, 10 ECTS). Different stakeholders mentioned the latter during the workshops and interviews. Other examples are the HyMy Village and Helsinki XR Center, which enable students to gain first-hand experiences, giving the programmes a more practical dimension compared to other similar programmes.
The teaching-learning environment at Metropolia is very supportive of students’ personal (transferable) skills development. The audit team applauds how students’ critical thinking is developed, which the students and alumni confirmed during the site visit. The audit team highly values the modern, responsive programmes besides the advanced learning environments and facilities Metropolia has at its disposal. Its connections to national and European innovation environments through different collaboration platforms or hubs are highly valued.
The amount and variety of activities that the higher education institution carries out together with civil society are impressive. In the view of the auditors, this is a great asset for integrating students with professional life. All Metropolia students have the chance to be involved in research projects to improve their research capabilities, including data collection, data entry or database interventions.
From the audit team’s perspective, Metropolia cares for its students and shows interest in their success: The HEI continuously observes the students’ learning processes, and problems and difficulties are dealt with in cooperation between students, student services and academics with the help of the METKA student union.
METKA also plays an active role in making decisions to ensure student fairness. However, students stressed that there are still minimal actions from METKA concerning improving administration. The METKA student union plays an essential role in students’ study lives. It can increase feelings of connection or engagement with the university, thus reducing the likelihood of study failure and dropout.
The well-being of students is promoted, yet there is some room for improvement
At Metropolia, students are assigned personal study plans and counsellors for their degree programmes to help them progress. In addition, tutor teachers monitor their progress and refer the student to a student well-being advisor or a psychologist in Student Well-being Services, if needed. The interviews revealed as well that teachers give regular feedback on learning achievements. Regarding students with special needs, support staff explained that their unique needs are included in the central database upon official registration as a Metropolia student.
The audit team also identified issues for improvement, particularly in terms of involving students actively in HEI life and enhancement processes. There are, for example, no English versions of questionnaires for certain degree-specific survey, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for students with limited or no Finnish skills to express their opinions. Metropolia should ensure accessibility to active participation in student life for this target group in all degree programmes, especially if more international students are supposed to attend Metropolia in the future. Their voices should be heard as well.