Quality management development in vocational education and training (VET) in Finland is based on both national and underlying EU policy outlines. The aim had been set that by 2015, all VET providers would have in place a well-functioning quality system, supporting quality management and its continuous improvement.

From April to September 2015, the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre evaluated VET providers’ quality management systems according to criteria drawn up by a working group appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The evaluation was partly conducted in collaboration with the Finnish National Board of Education. In addition to evaluators, a number of experts in vocational education and quality management took part in evaluation visits. The evaluation was based on self-evaluation reports (n = 168) from education providers, and evaluation visits (n = 35), which were carried out to assess the reliability of the reports and receive additional information.

According to the criteria used in the evaluation, many education providers (71%) had a well-functioning quality management system in place. A further 20 % of providers who did not meet the criteria, were close to fulfilling the requirements, so the situation as a whole is good. However, there were differences between education providers, centred on the type of ownership and education institution, as well as on how long systematic quality management had been in place. According to the results, the providers who had been developing their quality management for 6–10 years had statistically better quality management systems than those who had been doing it for a shorter time. Core strengths in the quality management systems were the quality strategies, the use of follow-up, evaluation and results in decision-making, and development activities and network collaboration, as well as the practice of learning from others.

Central development needs were related to documenting the quality management system, harmonising procedures in the different operational units, involving different stakeholder groups such as staff, students and social partners in quality management and its continuous development, and ensuring the quality management and evaluation competence. According to the evaluation, creating permanent external evaluation procedures for VET provider quality management systems and developing the evaluation criteria is justified.

More information: Quality assurance and evaluation in Finland.