Audit of the Vaasa University of Applied Sciences 2021
The strengths of Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (VAMK) include close networking with working life, practice- and competence-based education and development of education based on versatile feedback. The student-centred approach and student wellbeing are supported by individual and group tutoring and close teacher–student relations. VAMK has implemented a participatory operating culture as basis for developing its activities.
Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (VAMK) successfully passed the audit carried out by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) and was awarded a Quality Label valid for six years. Passing the audit shows that VAMK's activities and quality system meet both the national criteria and the European quality assurance criteria for higher education institutions.
Education development is based on student-centred and working life oriented approaches
VAMK develops its degree programmes systematically. In development of education, feedback from VAMK staff, students and external stakeholders is being utilised extensively. VAMK’s strategic partnerships effectively capture the needs of working life and cater to the provision of qualified workforce through practice- and competence-oriented education.
– VAMK’s strong student-centred approach is shown both in the implementation of education and in student guidance. There is a keen interest towards student feedback and the student union VAMOK has a strong voice in the institutional development. Group guidance and thesis work guidance have been developed successfully, Nevertheless, VAMK is recommended to ensure more balanced learning experiences for students regarding international learning environments and integration of working life experiences into teaching in all degree programmes. Furthermore, VAMK needs to expand the provision of continuous learning, highlights Eva Werner, the chair of VAMK’s international audit team.
Staff should be supported in change
Quality management efficiently supports the management of the UAS and implementation of the new strategy. The development of activities is based on participatory operating culture and new, multidisciplinary platforms for interaction. The working life periods of staff members constitute one of VAMK’s good practices that enhance transition of up-to-date knowhow from working life to education.
VAMK’s ambitious strategic goals especially in the field of research, development and innovation activities, continuous learning and internationalisation increase challenges for VAMK's staff. For this reason, the audit team recommends VAMK continuing to support the staff in the change and also ensuring the transfer of tacit knowledge within the institution.
VAMK has a strong and recognised role in the region
VAMK is fully aware of the responsibility it has as an HEI for its societal impact. The audit visit confirmed that VAMK has a strong impact on its operating environment through the various forms of cooperation, knowledge transfer and common projects. VAMK is currently strengthening its research, development and innovation activities with promising measures.
–There is a lot potential embedded in VAMK’s new RDI programme and new partnership model. VAMK could invest more in longer-term joint research programmes with its partners and thus take a more proactive role in facilitating and creating RDI ecosystems. In addition to partnerships with large global organisations, VAMK would also benefit from engaging smaller companies. Moreover, intensifying the alumni cooperation would be worthwhile, says Eva Werner.
Finland launched the audits of quality systems of higher education institutions in 2005. All Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences have participated in the audits. The third audit cycle, which began with pilot audits in 2018, is currently under way.