According to the University Act, Finnish universities shall regularly participate in the evaluation of their activities and quality systems. Aalto University's quality system was last audited in January 2016, and the next system audit will be in January 2023.
Quality together – Students have a voice in university decision-making
Students are an integral part of the Aalto University community, participating in many ways when preparing and making decisions at the university.
The university's most important academic decision-making forum is the Academic Affairs Committee, and four of its 19 members are students. The students are represented by 1-2 people in many important preparatory groups, such as the Academic Appeals Board, the Learning Steering Group, or Degree Programme Committees. For these many groups, the student union AYY chooses the representatives, and they are called ‘hallopeds’, standing from the Finnish words ‘hallinnon opiskelijaedustaja’.
The broad involvement of the community in developing common issues is a key aspect of the university's values. In addition to formal groups, the university and student union organise joint networking events or workshops, with management from both meeting regularly.
Chemical engineering student Eveliina Palo feels that students have a real voice at the university. She has served as a ‘fuksi captain’ for Prosessiteekkarit (Association of Process Engineering Students) and as a member of the student union's Teekkari Section and its freshman committee.
‘Sometimes it might be difficult for a rank and file student to know where to look for information on things related to their studies or how to give feedback. Persons in charge of study affairs in student associations are outstanding resources - they know a lot, they’re easy to approach and they know how to get things done.’
‘I’m active in Prosessiteekkarit, and we’re constantly discussing study-related matters. Lately, we’ve been talking about laboratory courses in chemistry and the number of new students.’
What if you had an idea or wanted to give feedback for the entire university - where would you go? 'I could give feedback to a halloped or contact, for example, members of the AYY Representative Council,' says Palo.
Eveliina Palo encourages the university and schools to keep the students informed about important issues. ‘I’m happy to hear about decision-making, often through hallopeds. And also, when the university is instituting any reforms, I’m happy to give a student view, by answering a survey, for example.’
University management appreciates the thoughts and suggestions of students.
‘We have such wonderful, active students. The university benefits a lot from the fresh perspectives and proposals for solutions they provide for our decision-making and planning. When we work together, communication goes openly both ways and we get a lot done,” explains Petri Suomala, Vice President for Education.
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The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) will audit the quality system of Aalto University in January 2023. The university is currently working on a self-evaluation report for the audit, which will be submitted to FINEEC in November. One of the areas to be audited is education, and the report assesses the methods we use to maintain and develop the quality of operations. Student involvement in decision-making is one example of these practices.
The quality system of Aalto University is an entity of policies, procedures and processes aimed at safeguarding and improving the quality of the university activities, its education, its research and other activities.