Audit of Arcada University of Applied Sciences 2024
FINEEC has conducted an audit of Arcada University of Applied Sciences. Arcada passed the FINEEC audit conducted by a Nordic audit team. Arcada was praised by the audit team for the good contact between students and staff and its learning environments. Arcada also has effective ways of analysing changes in work life and society to steer its activities.
Students appreciate the close contact with staff and find it easy to get support
Arcada has implemented a comprehensive curriculum reform that has been successful. The programmes have clear profiles and a clear link to work life. Arcada has functioning systems for capturing changes in work life and society.
Arcada is keen to create an environment for its students that makes it easier for them to thrive and learn. The students feel that it is easy to contact their teachers and that the teachers make a great effort to care for them. The students feel welcome at Arcada and as part of the Arcada community.
Arcada's learning environments were praised in the audit. Especially the labs and hubs were highly valued by students and staff. The lab and hub activities serve as a gathering point for different stakeholders and support collaboration with external stakeholders, education and research, development and innovation (RDI) activities.
The audit team believes that a clearer pedagogical anchoring of the teaching would be important for the future when the student groups become increasingly heterogeneous. Arcada should develop more systematic pedagogical competence development for its teachers.
Arcada's strength is how it analyses its operating environment
One of Arcada's strengths is systematic analysis of its operating environment, which is carried out with broad internal and external involvement. The information is used in the governance and management of the institution. Arcada demonstrates a balance between being proactive and reactive in the way it responds to changes in its external environment.
In the audit, Arcada was found to be innovative and agile in its operations. Arcada is open to collaboration and keen to share its knowledge. The university also has an open culture that encourages staff to try new things and be innovative.
The audit team recommends that Arcada defines what it wants to achieve in terms of the societal impact of its activities. Arcada needs to define clearer goals and follow-up indicators for societal impact. Arcada could also more systematically utilise different networks for the enhancement of its activities and exchange of experiences.
Arcada's quality culture is open and based on dialogue
Students and external stakeholders are engaged in organisational development and get their voices heard. Student engagement has a clear role in the Arcada's quality system. Students' feedback is followed up and they receive feedback-on-feedback. Intensive work is carried out to get process descriptions in place within the organisation, which is important to avoid person dependency in a small organisation.
Arcada has recently revised its quality system and the university should carry out a more thorough evaluation of the system after a completed quality cycle for lessons learnt. The quality system can also be made more visible throughout the organisation," says Eva Åkesson, chair of the audit team and professor at Lund University.
According to the audit team, Arcada could also work on creating greater community in the post-pandemic period and after the organisational reform in 2022.
The integration of education and research should be followed up
In recent years, Arcada has made efforts to develop its research activities. Arcada’s organisational reform has benefited scientific research and external funding. The resources added to communications has made Arcada’s research activities more visible.
According to the audit, the link between education and research has decreased after the organisational reform. The audit team recommends that Arcada create a closer link between teaching and research, especially in the bachelor's programme. Arcada also needs to work towards a common understanding of research-based education and education-based research.
The audit team encourages Arcada to carry out the planned external research evaluation to get collegial feedback on the quality of its research activities. Arcada also needs to develop work time planning to allow for greater flexibility and prioritisation of activities in order for the full use its research funding.
The audit was conducted by an international audit team:
- Professor Eva Åkesson, Lund University, Sweden (chair)
- Vice dean Trine Bjerva, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
- Student Jussi Laitinen, University of Helsinki and Hanken School of Economics, Finland
- Project manager Janne Wikström, Hanaholmen – Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre, Finland.