The strong integration of the quality system into the management system contributes effectively to the university’s development
The quality system covers the university’s core duties and includes prerequisites, responsibilities, routines and processes for quality assurance, assessment and quality development of education, research, societal interaction and university services.
Based on the audit visit, the self-assessment and the information available on the university’s intranet, the audit team concludes that the quality system is ‘alive’ and not a pure administrative product. The university has demonstrably translated the four phases of the PDCA cycle into practical action in the majority of the university’s processes. The quality work is characterised by well-described systematics—goal-setting and communication of goals, clear areas of responsibility and routines, description of monitoring and feedback systems (e.g. via the intranet feedback channel) and decision-making processes and the implementation of development priorities.
Important parts of the quality system are the university’s routines for internal and external assessment and benchmarking, which also include the international research assessments. Here, the university’s work with international accreditations also contributes to the quality assurance and development of a significant number of degree programmes. Furthermore, the audit visit confirmed that the application of the quality system makes it easier for the university to identify development needs in a goal-oriented way.
LUT’s quality culture is open, inviting and participatory
During the audit visit, the university’s quality culture was often expressed in terms of “improvement culture” and the desire to constantly improve, and that this is a culture that permeates all the university’s activities. The quality culture was often referred to as the university’s values and the fact that the quality culture was strategy-driven. It was clear that the quality culture could be linked to the staff and students’ commitment to the university’s profile and strategic development. The general commitment to the quality work and the strategy could not be interpreted by the audit team in any other way than that the quality culture is inviting, participatory and open to both staff and students. On the other hand, the university could stimulate and utilise the commitment even more by systematising the work of sharing and discussing ideas and good practices within the higher education community. Furthermore, the audit team recommends that the university to a greater extent involve the international students in the university’s quality work, as discussed in Section 1.1. If LUT aims at attracting more international students, especially for long-term stays in Finland, HEI should more actively encourage this group to participate in shaping their educational institution as well, which could also make integration in Finland easier. The university should enquire systematically about the reasons for the non-participation of international students and act according to the results.
External stakeholders could be more involved in the evaluation and development of the quality system
The maintenance and development of the university’s quality system is the responsibility of the rector together with the Steering Committee of the Quality Management and Environmental Management Systems. The quality system is intended to operate for a long time and has so far been updated several times in accordance with operational changes and new external recommendations, such as the latest FINEEC audit recommendations. The quality system as a whole is developed by taking part in FINEEC’s recurring national evaluations. The university could, to a greater extent, involve external stakeholders in the continuous development of its quality system.
All in all, the audit team was in many ways impressed by how LUT works in a systematic and target-oriented manner and how it engages its staff, students and stakeholders in the development of the university. LUT knows what it wants to achieve and how, how to measure its success and use the information to further improve its activities.