3.3 Functionality and development of the quality system

Assessment of the audit team

The quality system covers the core processes

The quality system covers all core processes of VAMK: education, RDI activities and design services. Regional development work, societal interaction and impact are carried out in all the above-mentioned core processes. A general description of the quality management of the core processes is included in the Quality Handbook.  In addition, VAMK has a large collection of process descriptions in place, complementing the Quality Handbook. Process descriptions are annually updated in the Management Team workshops, ensuring that the descriptions are up-to-date and well-known to the top management.

To improve the overall outline and interlinkage of the individual processes, VAMK could consider designing a process map and increasing visualisations through workflow charts or diagrams. The auditors also recommend using the next Quality Handbook revision to integrate further quality-relevant information in the handbook, such as details on information production, development of measures or the description of the quality management of RDI activities and design services. All this will make the Quality Handbook a comprehensive “instrument” to enhance and monitor the quality management of the institution.

All parties participate in the quality management

Students, staff members and working life partners take part in the quality work at VAMK. The interviews with representatives of the student union VAMOK confirmed that students have various possibilities to participate in the development dialogue. There was also evidence that staff members identify development needs with the help of information produced by the quality system. Working life partners participate via advisory committees and by cooperating in education, RDI activities and continuous learning. Annual cooperation meetings with the most important working life partners, the yearly revised agreements and the Key Partner award are good practices which support the continuity of cooperation with working life and thus contribute to the quality of education.

VAMK was able to present several examples of effective quality work and the involvement of different parties in it. The interviews confirmed that VAMK’s quality culture is based on dialogue and openness. The sharing of good practices has increased alongside with the development of the quality culture. VAMK’s new interaction forums and platforms offer potential to further improve sharing of knowledge and good practices in the work community. The strong commitment of the President to quality work was both evident and confirmed in the interviews.

Systematic development of the quality system should be set as driver for quality enhancement

Prior to this FINEEC audit, VAMK had reformed several of its quality system procedures, including institutional-level indicators, quality management of RDI and the course feedback system. These changes are promising, even though the evidence of their impact has not yet been fully deployed due to the rather recent reforms.

Based on the information given in the audit documents and the information gained in the audit visit interviews, so far changes in the quality system have rather been made as a response to emerging development needs than as a systematic exercise. Therefore, the audit team encourages VAMK to continue the dynamic renewal of the quality system as set out in VAMK’s strategy. More proactively initiated internal evaluations of the quality system could enhance the continuous strategy implementation and foster quality development as well.  The quality system development plan complemented systematically by a self-evaluation or an internal audit could effectively support this important work and have a substantial impact on the quality of VAMK’s core areas.