The quality enhancement system in the University of Tampere consists of the methods for continuous improvement of education, research, management, leadership and supporting services. Basically, the quality system of the University consists of the same elements as in most Finnish or even European universities. The quality enhancement methods are usually seen as a cycle of planning, doing, checking and acting.
Compared with other Finnish universities the University of Tampere has focused more in developing the self-steering of the faculties and departments instead of controlling them. At the beginning of 2011. the University of Tampere conducted a thorough overhaul of its organization. Instead of six faculties and over 20 departments there are nine schools to take care of all research and education in the University. The services and administration have been rearranged, too. The steering processes, eg. the quality system as a tool for management, was renewed at the same time. Most of the improvements to the quality system were due to the clear organisation structure and strong preconditions of the strategic management. The administration has two levels instead of three. This has made the responsibilities in quality enhancement clearer than before.
The quality systems in Finnish universities are regularly externally audited. The quality system of the University of Tampere was externally audited in 2008 and parts of the system in 2011. The next external evaluation of the quality system will be in 2014.
Quality assurance means the procedures, processes and systems used to safeguard and improve the quality. Quality enhancement implies especially to the methods of continuous improvement. The quality system is usually considered as a tool of strategic management and leadership. The word system implies to the university level construction, whereas the procedures and methods imply to the separate practices used in the university.
Since Finnish higher education institutions have a strong autonomy, they are responsible for their own quality methods and systems. There are however certain methods on the national level to assure the continous improvement of the university level systems. The Ministry of Education and Research steers the universities with several reporting and assessment methods. Eg. the volume and quality of higher education institutes are annually measured by certain indicators. The Finnish Higher Education Council supports the universities to improve the quality systems by organizing external audits and developing the national audit model.
In the University of Tampere the quality system is seen as a set of several university and school level monitoring, steering and planning processes. Most important of them are the annual planning process and the curriculum planning. The strategy process usually produces changes to the internal steering system and to the methods of continous improvement.
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