Dear chair of the audit team, vice rector of education, dear university community,
I’m the Specialist in Academic Affairs in the student union of the University of Oulu and a student in our faculty of Education.
I would refer myself as a some sort of a quality geek. Even the master thesis me and my master thesis partner did was linked to the quality assurance. Moreover on National Bachelor’s Graduate Survey (Kandipalaute) and how the universities utilise the survey’s results to improve quality of the education.
But that’s more than enough about me and my background. I’m here as the student representative of the quality assurance project group, which has been preparing our university to the audit. I’m also here to discuss about the audit process from the students’ point of view.
In this presentation I will focus mainly on three points.
- How do we know that the education is good quality education?
- What are the students’ expectations?
- Audit as a possibility
The audit might seem quite a distant procedure and the difficult terminology doesn’t really help to make it very approachable. But audit and quality in the higher education is more than the specific terms and quality jargon.
As students when we come to a University the first thing we get isn’t the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area nor the University’s quality policy. And like Touko Apajalahti already said, we don’t need to know these policies by heart.
The quality of education, the quality of the processes and the quality management and assurance are in our way of doing things.
The quality comes from our responsibilities, from the everyday life. It comes from our artic attitude.
The quality thrives from the way we introduce our strategic research focus areas for the first year students in the future factory orientation week. It drives from the way we build our quality culture: from the events such as an apple for a teacher or when we are searching the coolest teacher ever.
The quality and continuous development are strongly linked to openness to the new things. How we open-mindedly try and experiment new practices.
The new course feedback system, mobile application Tuudo and different Universitas projects are good examples of the new experiments or of the ways we do things here at the University of Oulu. And the great thing is that these improvements are usually done not only with the students but by the students.
And as a intervieew it is important that you answer to the question from your point of view: speak about your responsibilities, about your experiences. It is very important to hear does the studying here meet the expectations you had. Are there things to improve.
Don’t worry about freezing: with the arctic attitude stop for a minute, think about the question again or ask help from a friend close to you.
We will also give a vocabulary of the most important terms and words to help you.
So the students are not only customers in our University, but an essential part of it. Like it is stated in our strategy we encourage each student to achieve his/hers full academic potential.
We have many different ways to influence the decision making at the university: we can talk directly to professors and student counsellors, we can give feedback during courses, work as student representatives in different administrative organs, be active in student organisations and take part in university’s own or nation-wide surveys about our studies.
Us as students we have responsibility to say in the quality of studies: make our ideas, complaints and thoughts visible
We have whole a lot of students that have always tried to make a difference when there has been a chance, but we have to recognise that everyone is not like them: not everyone has time or will to act as a student representative or in the different student societies..
If you can’t see the consequences of your actions or feedback, there is not much motivation to take part in the system.
We already have a new tool for that since we have made possible to everyone get ects credits from being active (working in guilds or as student representative) and then again we have also have the new electronic/ online course feedback system.
Even though we have these new tools there are always things to do we can say that we are truly closing the feedback loop: showing the concrete effects of the feedback making the feedback more meaningful.
Encourage all the students to be more active within our University community.
In the end I just want to say that the audit is a great way to look into the quality system of the university. It forces us to stop and evaluate good and bad practices. It is also important that this development does not stop when the audit is done.
The audit system has no direct impact on the functioning of the university, unless the university decides to truly work hard to resolve the problems that the audit brings to light.
I expect that the audit will translate into improvements in the real daily functions at the university.
I see this as a continuous learning process, where hopefully the way of doing things will move more and more towards student-centred approach where the students are encouraged to take an active role in the learning processes.
And this is the main reason why we need to listen to the whole academic community, including students, in everything, in every choice and change.