Laurea University of Applied SciencesEspoo, Finland
Reviewed by Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC)
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- Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Laurea University of Applied Sciences was assessed by Finnish Education Evaluation Centre, FINEEC. This assessment procedure took place within the framework of the Certificate for Quality in Internationalisation Project. FINEEC convened an assessment panel that studied the self-evaluation report and undertook a site visit on 26 March 2014, in Espoo, Finland.
Laurea University of Applied Sciences has a clearly defined and well-documented institutional strategy upon which its Internationalisation Strategy 2012 – 2015 is based. This strategy embraces both national as well as institutional internationalisation goals and is oriented along four institutional action lines. The institutional Strategy Implementation Plan for Internationalisation contains verifiable objectives that allow monitoring of the set goals through critical success factors, corresponding indicators and set target levels, referring for instance to student and staff mobility, the number of students seeking foreign degree, implementation of mandatory courses delivered in English and the amount of international RDI funding. Laurea undertakes regular evaluations of its progress in internationalisation through annual interim assessments as well as a final assessment at the end of the plan period. Already derived and implemented measures of improvement demonstrate their effectiveness. Relevant stakeholders in this process are identified and taken aboard as essential supporters of the further development of Laurea’s internationalisation. Room for improvement is seen with the definition of qualitative objectives as well as with the more proactive inclusion of some groups of stakeholders such as alumni and business partners.
From the aforementioned implementation plan, so-called action plans for the different units of Laurea are derived according to the characteristics and the resulting needs of the highly diverse units (diversity being due to the merger of different institutions into Laurea University of Applied Sciences). These action plans which incorporate the four strategically defined action lines (see Institutional Strategy) comprise an impressive amount of details relating to the relevant dimensions of international and intercultural learning outcomes, teaching and learning, research, and students and staff. The close linkage of these dimensions through the “Learning by Development” (LbD) operational model, a strong pedagogical element, and adequate resources and diligently chosen institution-wide instruments that clearly foster internationalisation, warrant the attainment of the institutional internationalisation goals.
The implementation of the internationalisation goals and activities is supported by Laurea’s information system called the Quality Performance Review (QPR) system. This systems enables the institution to clearly see “where we are” as it incorporates and processes relevant information and a considerable number of feedback results stemming from different feedback practices and surveys. Thus, eventual achievement gaps are made transparent and their analysis supports decision-making on corrective measures. Laurea can clearly demonstrate that they have made use of the information gained over the years and in which way this has resulted in the better realisation of plans and activities. As a further step in this already well developed system the organisation of interactive platforms could be considered.
The institutional Quality Management System as a system of continuous development integrates all internationalisation dimensions throughout the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle. Various evaluation practices as well as benchmarking exercises demonstrate that the institution utilises internationalisation approaches in order to enhance quality and it consistently involves essential stakeholders in this process.
The overall responsibilities regarding the institution’s internationalisation, defined in the institutional operating regulations are allocated to the regular governing bodies of Laurea University of Applied Sciences, but with the management team and the International Advisory Board playing a pivotal role in supporting the institution’s internationalisation plans and bringing them “to life”. The unit-specific and activity-based responsibilities are defined in the different action plans. This structure allows effective governance as well as adequate support for the institution’s internationalisation goals. Input coming from outside the institution, such as from the MoE (Ministry of Education and Culture) or FUAS, encounters prompt reaction on Laurea’s side, whereas internal input seems to be brought forward more hesitatingly. In this respect, Laurea should consider ways to enhance input coming from the different internal groups.
Laurea demonstrates a strong commitment to the set Internationalisation goals and the ability to critically reflect on achievements, strengths but also challenges. The willingness to live up to its vision of being an internationally acknowledged University of Applied Sciences in the near future for the sake of students, graduates and staff, and thus also contribute to the development of the Helsinki metropolitan area was clearly conveyed. Based on its internationalisation goals, the institution has successfully implemented effective internationalisation activities that demonstrably contribute to the quality of teaching and learning embracing students, staff, services and research activities alike. Particularly the unit action plans, their stringent evaluation and constant development as well as the LbD model were seen examples of good practice. Laurea meets all the CeQuInt standards and their subcriteria; three of the standards were assessed as good. For the further development of Laurea’s internationalisation, the panel recommends the use of the CeQuInt criteria as a reference guide for the process of continuous improvement.