The Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC) decided on 24 March 2011, based on the proposal and report of the external evaluation team, that the University of Eastern Finland meets the criteria set for the university’s quality management system as a whole and the criteria set for quality management relating to the university’s basic mission. The audit is valid for six years.
The audit of the University of Eastern Finland was carried out on the Joensuu and Kuopio Campuses during 1–3 December 2010. The chair of the external evaluation team was Professor Timo Aarrevaara (D.Soc.Sc.) of the University of Helsinki.Other members of the external evaluation team included Mailis Aaltonen (M.Ed.) of the University of Oulu, Liisa Ansala (B.Ed.) of the University of Lapland, Emeritus Professor Jussi Huttunen (M.D.) and Lea Ryynänen-Karjalainen (D.Mus.) of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The secretaries to the team were Marja-Liisa Saarilammi (D.Mus., M.A.) and Krister Talvinen (D.Soc.Sc.) of the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council.
The Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council will audit the quality management systems of all Finnish higher education institutions by the end of 2011. The FINHEEC audits assess the comprehensiveness, performance and effectiveness of the systems as regards the higher education institutions’ basic mission (education, research and interaction with and impact on society), strategic management and auxiliary activities.
The university’s quality management system is loosely based on the ISO 9001 system and it is described in the university’s main quality manual and in the quality manuals of the faculties and units, which supplement the main manual. The building of the university’s quality management system has been supported by the criteria of the FINHEEC audit manual, the experiences gained from the quality management system of the University of Kuopio, and feedback from FINHEEC. Furthermore, the building of the system has been led in a centralised manner and the work has involved a large part of the staff.Also students have been involved in the process as internal auditors and sources of feedback.
Quality assurance work at the University of Eastern Finland was launched in early 2007, at the same time as the decision on the merger of the University of Joensuu and the University of Kuopio was made. The quality management system has been built side by side the establishment and organisation of the new university. The fact that these two processes coincided has demanded much effort from the university community; however, on the other hand, it has also been an asset. According to the report of the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council, “the quality management system of the University of Eastern Finland is a central tool in the implementation of the merger of the two universities and their further development.”
The identified strengths of the quality management system include the university leadership’s strong commitment to the monitoring and development of the system and the university leadership’s strong strategic commitment, the university’s areas of expertise in research, its open operating culture and student feedback system. Furthermore, the university’s strong cooperation with external stakeholders gained recognition.
The most important development targets identified in the audit include the university’s quality-related indicators, innovation process and information systems, as well as the amount of materials available in English.
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