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Academic community is crucial for improvement

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Sini Saarinen | 21.09.2018

Did you know we have several International Master’s Degree Programmes in the University of Turku? We did here in TYY, but we had no idea how versatile the field was and how interesting times we were facing when we were asked to join a team of evaluators for these programmes. We will walk you through the evaluation process and tell you what we discovered!

The basics

Every faculty at the University of Turku has their own International Master’s Degree Programme. Some have several. There was a need to clarify the whole picture of how the programmes help the Uni to meet its strategic goals and also provide help in the planning of future steps. The aim of the evaluation was to collect data to develop the individual Master Programmes as well as share best practices.

One of our strengths is being a multidisciplinary University and an evaluation this size gives tools for our management to continue making us even more influential and also more connected as a community. Sharing advice and goals is caring. Two representatives from TYY were part of the evaluation team with members of the University’s staff and the evaluation was done during spring 2018. The results were presented in the seminar on 20th September 2018.

The process itself - reports and interviews

The evaluation process was quite a heavy workload. All the faculties were asked to draw a self-evaluation report answering versatile questions regarding their international Master’s Degree Programmes. Faculties had to answer for example why the programmes exist, what are the future plans and how students are coping with their studies.

The evaluation team’s task was to read the self-evaluation reports made by each faculty and participate as interviewers in the evaluation interviews. We had a lot to read, but that’s why we are here. The International Student Barometer was also used as a background material and it provided really useful information e.g. how students feel about future employment prospects.

Representatives from each faculty (there are seven of them) participated in three interview sessions in three groups:

1) management,

2) teaching staff and

3) students.

After visiting all the faculties, the evaluation team met for a few times and drafted a report.

What we found out?

The interviews gave a good overall idea of our university’s MD programmes. We in TYY were particularly interested in language studies and integration, feedback system, tuition fees, working life, and career prospects, studying matters in general and of course, programmes and their future. The team noticed that the management, staff, and students seemed to share a similar idea of what was happening in the programmes and what should be improved.

The introduction of tuition fees has brought changes and the university is not the same as it was before the fees. Although the number of applications increased but only around ⅓ actually came to Turku and the number of fee-paying students seems to rise very slowly. The University has been actively involved in other means of internationalisation: education exports, commissioned education and as the latest example: establishing a new Master’s programme abroad in Namibia.

Internationality looks good on paper. It is one of the main areas of the University's strategy and it has an important role in all areas of operations; education, research, and social interaction. The core of the internationality is not, however, quantity but the quality. Do our international students feel at ease, are they supported during their studies socially and academically, do they have the possibility to stay after graduating and most importantly, do they feel like “one of us” or are they still apart from us, Finns?

The evaluation was carried out by listening to the opinions of the management, staff, and students. Listening of all these three groups is the basis of our decision making and democracy in the University of Turku. The community is crucial for improvement - today and in the future.

koulutuspolitiikka - Academic Affairs
Sini Saarinen