University of Helsinki Completes Comprehensive Review of Degree Programs, Unveils Development Goals for Enhanced Education Quality

University of Helsinki Completes Comprehensive Review of Degree Programs, Unveils Development Goals for Enhanced Education Quality

(IN BRIEF) The University of Helsinki undertook a thorough evaluation of all its bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs during the 2023–2024 academic year, led by a group chaired by University Chancellor Kaarle Hämeri. Highlighting education as a crucial strategic asset, the evaluation emphasized the need to enhance program appreciation, address resource management challenges, and foster collaboration. While acknowledging the overall effectiveness of education, the report identified areas for improvement, including addressing graduation delays, enhancing teaching quality, and supporting student wellbeing. The evaluation outlined eleven development areas with thirty-nine proposed measures, underscoring the joint responsibility of university leadership and individual programs. This review, the first since the programs’ establishment in 2017, aims to strengthen the university’s position in attracting top talent nationally and internationally, emphasizing a commitment to continuous improvement in education quality.

(PRESS RELEASE) HELSINKI, 20-May-2024 — /EuropaWire/ — During the 2023–2024 academic year, all of the University of Helsinki’s bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programmes were assessed by an evaluation group chaired by Kaarle Hämeri, the University Chancellor. This was the first assessment of the degree programmes established in 2017.

In its report, the evaluation group notes that education is a strategically vital success factor for the University of Helsinki. By increasing appreciation for the programmes and addressing structural problems in managing their resources, the University can improve the results and quality of its education. The crucial issue is how the University will succeed in planning teaching resources and strengthening collaboration.

The report finds that education must be seen at the University as a more significant strategic duty than before. The management of a degree programme is a demanding task based on the matrix management structure, which comes with high expectations and relatively little power, particularly over resources.

“If the will is there, this imbalance between power and responsibility can be resolved at the University. Doing so will significantly influence the University’s success in the competition for top talent in Finland and internationally,” says Chancellor Kaarle Hämeri.

Effectiveness of education is good

The evaluation group praises the overall effectiveness of the University’s education, although degree programmes vary considerably in terms of appeal, the number of applicants, graduation and employment prospects.

The evaluation group encourages the University to address delays in graduation through student guidance and supervision, the enhancement of teaching quality, and support for student wellbeing and self-regulated learning.

“It’s also important to use student feedback data and focus the University’s own higher education research on development areas in education. In addition, removing obstacles to smooth progress and establishing effective mechanisms for thesis completion support the goal of preventing graduation delays,” says Doctoral Researcher Jenna Sorjonen, who represented students in the group.

The key development goals for doctoral education involve completing degrees within the target duration and aligning degree requirements with the imminent doctoral education pilot.

Defining and applying criteria for establishing, merging and terminating degree programmes support the University in managing its programme portfolio.

11 development areas, 39 measures

The evaluation group proposes seven areas of development for the University’s bachelor’s and master’s programmes, and four for the doctoral programmes. These areas encompass a total of 39 measures to be taken.

The responsibility for development lies equally on the University leadership and on degree programmes, departments, discipline-specific units and faculties. As the development areas are emphasised in different ways across the University degree programmes and faculties, the programmes’ own analysis too is important for implementing the measures.

“Crucially, the development areas must be prioritised and scheduled through University-wide collaboration,” emphasises Hämeri.

Read the evaluation group’s development proposals in full (PDF).

Background information on the review and annual follow-up

The two key practices of quality management in the University’s degree programmes are annual follow-up and reviews. The review now conducted was the first of its kind since the programmes were established in 2017. The assessment process encompassed all of the University’s 130 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programmes.

Since 2019, the University’s programmes have completed an annual follow-up procedure. The plan has been to systematically implement the review, drawing on follow-up data, about once every three years.

As part of the review, the steering groups of degree programmes assessed their own operations in autumn 2023, after which faculties used the programme assessments to complete their own self-assessments. In the 2024 spring term, University-level administrative bodies undertook a self-assessment across the University: the Academic Affairs Council focused on the effectiveness of bachelor’s and master’s programmes, and the Board of the Doctoral School together with the Research Council assessed the effectiveness of doctoral programmes.

Media Contact:

Päivi Aronen

SOURCE: University of Helsinki


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