The University of Helsinki defines quality as expedient operations and high-quality results. The University’s quality culture manifests itself in the high commitment of the staff and students to their work and studies. The staff and students collaborate in accordance with the values and objectives of the University and adhere to common policies. They also share good practices and engage in continuous evaluation. The University’s quality system provides the necessary structures and defines the procedures and responsibilities for well-functioning quality management.
Quality work supports the University of Helsinki in achieving its vision defined at the Strategic plan. Every member of the academic community shall contribute to the common goal of achieving the University’s objectives and shall be responsible for his or her performance and outcomes. The purpose of the University’s quality system is to aid the academic community and its members in developing a framework for quality management.
The University maintains and enhances the quality of activities through jointly determined procedures, processes or systems. The objectives set in the strategic plan, target programmes and action plans are the foundation for all operations.
The quality system provides the structures and defines the procedures and responsibilities of well-functioning quality management. The purpose of the quality system is to:
- Support the attainment of the objectives of the University’s quality policy
- Support the leadership and management
- Allow for continuous assessment and improvement of operations by offering tools and pointing out development areas
- Provide reliable monitoring and assessment data for operations management
- Clarify and harmonise procedures as well as eliminate errors and flaws
- Disseminate and establish good practices
The quality system rests on an appropriate organisational structure as well as good management and decision-making. Its foundation consists of the strategic plan as well as the University’s target programme together with the related target programmes and action plans of the units (faculties, departments, independent institutes). The quality system supports the University’s strategic objectives and helps both the University and its units to achieve them.
The operations management process, which involves setting objectives and monitoring their achievement, is at the core of quality management. The University has defined indicators and quantitative follow-up targets to monitor whether it is moving in the direction defined by its objectives. The rector conducts target negotiations with the faculties and independent institutes on the eve of the strategy period to agree on quantitative and qualitative objectives.
Another purpose of the quality system is to assure that the quality management procedures set up to ensure the quality of operations are present in all operations. Quality management aims to continuously improve University operations and make development an inherent part of all activities and units as well as the work of individuals. It affects all members of the academic community: teachers, researchers and other staff as well as students.
The following key quality management procedures are used on a regular and continuous basis:
- Quality assurance procedures applied in the international academic community that are of relevance to the University’s core duties (e.g., refereed publications, quality assurance of degrees, network of senior lecturers in university pedagogy)
- Quality assurance through recruitment (researchers, teachers, students)
- Documentation of the quality system, including definitions of the quality policy, operations, actors and responsibilities
- Evaluation of research, education and societal interaction, as well as of administration and support services
- Self-evaluation (e.g., the quality assurance matrix for education) and related reporting
- Collection and evaluation of feedback from students, interest groups and staff, as well as the resulting measures
- Quality system audits
DOCUMENTATION OF THE QUALITY SYSTEM
The quality system has been documented in the operations manuals and the related process descriptions of the University, faculties, independent institutes and, in some cases, faculty departments. This helps every member of the academic community to easily find information about the quality system and the procedures specified in it.
Since operations management is a key process in quality management, quality-related documentation must also include target programs and action plans, evaluation and risk analysis reports, as well as rules and guidelines for operations.
The Operations Manual documents the University’s common practices and quality management procedures. It supports the University community in its work, serves as an aid in the orientation of new employees, increases the transparency of operations, and facilitates finding the best practices applied in other units and developing one’s own activities.
The Operations Manual describes the University’s management system, core duties, and services. It consists of descriptions of operations and links to existing documents that are continuously updated.
The faculties, departments and independent institutes have drafted their own operations manuals on the basis of the documents contained in the University’s Operations Manual. All operations manuals are integrated with other content on the Flamma intranet (access only with a University of Helsinki username).
The University describes its operating processes in an appropriate manner. The process steps can be defined verbally or by drawing a process chart, modelling and making visible the process flow and the responsibilities of the parties involved in the different process stages.
Process descriptions clarify management practices, help to identify process bottlenecks, relieve the process workload, facilitate comparisons with other units, harmonise operations and help to share good practices.
The Board of the University of Helsinki bears ultimate responsibility for quality principles and policies. The University leadership is accountable for the overall quality of operations and results. The faculty deans, heads of department and directors of independent institutes, as well as the directors of Central Administration sectors answer for the operational and qualitative results of their own units. Every member of the academic community is responsible for the quality and improvement of his or her own work and results as a teacher, researcher, student, or member of the administrative and support staff.
The University’s quality management is coordinated by the quality management steering group. The group is led by the vice-rector in charge of quality management and its secretary is the University’s quality manager. The quality manager and quality specialist coordinate the implementation of quality management principles and procedures.
Each operating unit (faculty, department, independent institute, Central Administration sector and unit) has at least one quality coordinator whose duty it is to communicate about quality management procedures, promote quality management in his or her own unit and support the University leadership in quality management issues.
UNIVERSITY PASSED THE AUDIT
An international audit team appointed by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre FINEEC (Formerly FINHEEC) has audited the quality system of the University of Helsinki in 2014. The audit team visited the University from 6 to 9 October 2014. The results of the audit were published in March 2015. The audit was complied with FINHEEC’s Audit manual for the quality systems of higher education institutions 2011–2017. The quality system of the University of Helsinki fulfils the national criteria set for the quality management of higher education institutions, and the system corresponds to the European quality assurance principles and recommendations for higher education institutions.
FINEEC will organize a follow-up seminar of development of the quality system about three years after the audit.
The functioning of the quality system will be evaluated based on nine audit targets. The audit targets are as follows:
- The quality policy of the higher education institution
- Strategic and operations management
- Development of the quality system
- Quality management of the higher education institution’s basic duties
- Degree education (including first-, second- and third-cycle education)
- Research, development and innovation activities (as well as artistic activities)
- Societal impact and regional development work (incl. social responsibility, continuing education, and open university and paid-services education)
- Optional audit target (UH: staff recruitment for an international university)
- Samples of degree education: Degree programs or equivalent entities leading to a degree (UH: four samples)
- The quality system as a whole
HAVE YOUR SAY – LET’S JOIN FORCES FOR A BETTER UNIVERSITY!
As a member of the university community, you share the responsibility for the University’s high-quality operations with other members of the University community. It is important that you attend to your own duties to the best of your ability. By participating in supervision and guidance, feedback surveys and development discussions, you play an important role in managing the quality of the University community’s operations.
The University strives to operate in a high-quality way so that time and resources can be directed at the core duties of its members, namely studies, teaching and research. The University has its own quality policy that serves as the basis for operational development.
An international panel has evaluated the University’s operations in the autumn of 2014. This evaluation, known as an audit, aims to discover means of ensuring the continuous improvement of the University’s successful operations.
As a member of the University community, you can contribute to these efforts! Students have several channels through which they can have their say:
- Discussions conducted in connection with their personal study plan (PSP)
- Course feedback
- The University’s own Learn feedback survey on the learning and study environment
- National surveys such as the Bachelor’s Graduate Survey
- Student organisations
- Student representatives in the various University committees and decision-making organs
- The University of Helsinki Student Union
- Student wellbeing surveys conducted by the Finnish Student Health Service
- The graduate employment survey conducted by the Aarresaari Academic Career Services Network
- Feedback surveys designed for UH students returning from exchanges and for incoming exchange students
- The International Student Barometer
The University listens – have your say on the Laatumatkalla blog (in Finnish) !