Principles of quality assurance

As a lifelong learning university, the University of Tartu is guided by the following principles of continuing education:

1. Continuing education is an important and highly valued academic activity. The university provides high-level continuing education in all fields taught at the university and, as the provider of training courses of the largest range of topics and formats, is the leader of the training market in Estonia.
2. The university systematically integrates formal education and continuing education to create flexible learning opportunities for adult learners and to market degree programmes through continuing education.

3. Continuing education at the university is science-based and rooted in modern theoretical and experiential knowledge, it considers the needs of partners and stakeholders (incl. alumni), and supports both learners’ professional development and the competitiveness of businesses. Continuing education helps the university to keep aligned with the labour market and its needs.

4. Being a learning organisation, the University of Tartu promotes lifelong learning.

The following legal acts have been enacted at the university for arranging continuing education and its quality assurance.

Quality assurance of continuing education curricula (continuing education programmes)
According to the continuing education regulations, the continuing education curricula at the University of Tartu are called continuing education programmes, and the same regulations also include the requirements the continuing education programmes must meet.
The quality of continuing education programmes is ensured by requirements stipulated by the regulations for programme content, registration of programmes in the Study Information System, engagement of qualified teaching staff and regular collection of feedback from learners and other stakeholders. The quality of programmes is ensured by the instructional materials drawn up by the university, a functioning network of programme directors and central support to subordinate units in devising of courses and instructions and counselling.

Content of programmes
Continuing education programmes can consist of themes or courses of degree studies. Objectives, learning outcomes, themes to be covered and conditions for completing the programme are generally devised by the staff members who teach the programme.

Programme information
The continuing education programmes contain the following information:

  • title and code;
  • broad field of study, narrow field of study, detailed field of study;
  • general objective and learning outcomes;
  • description of the content of the continuing education programme;
  • if the objective of continuing education is acquisition of vocational, occupational or professional competences included in a professional standard or a curriculum of degree studies, a reference to the professional standard and its professional level or the curriculum and a list of the competences acquired;
  • name of the staff member teaching the continuing education course; description of his/her qualifications and work experience or a reference to the corresponding information on a publicly accessible webpage;
  • form of studies, i.e. face-to-face instruction, partly or entirely web-based study or study by post;
  • description of the learning environment;
  • target group;
  • total volume and its structure, i.e. contact hours, volume of practical and independent work in academic hours and credit points;
  • dates of beginning and end;
  • the arranging faculty, institute, college, other institution or support unit;
  • programme director;
  • minimum and maximum number of participants in the group;
  • conditions of reception to the continuing education course and beginning of studies if these are a precondition for achieving the learning outcomes;
  • list of study materials if these are necessary for completing the continuing education programme;
  • conditions for completion, including the method of assessment of achieving the learning outcomes if learning outcomes are assessed, criteria for assessment of achieving the learning outcomes, and the documents issued;
  • reference to the formation of the Recognition of Prior Learning committee if the continuing education programme or part of it can be attended by RPL;
  • information whether the tuition fee paid for attending the continuing education programme can considered training expenses as stipulated by § 26 subsection 2 of the Income Tax Act;
  • date of confirmation of the continuing education programme.

Programme director
Each continuing education programme has a programme director responsible for the content of the programme and a contact person who is generally responsible for the arrangement of the programme. The continuing education programme is confirmed by the head or the corresponding structural unit.

Quality assurance of teaching staff
Conducting of continuing education follows the principle stipulated by the curriculum statute of the University of Tartu: highly qualified teaching staff members, researchers and practitioners are used in the teaching process, and consistent continuing education of teaching staff members is enhanced.
The teaching staff members and researchers are selected according to a valid procedure and, in their work they are guided by the job descriptions in effect at the university. Academic staff members working on employment contracts for an unspecified term are accredited at least once in five years of work.
Often, practitioners who have long-term cooperation relations with the university are employed for continuing education programmes.
The participants in courses are also asked for feedback about the teaching staff. The results of feedback are considered in the further selection of teaching staff.

Collection of feedback
The continuing education regulations of the University of Tartu stipulate that the programme director collects feedback from learners, institutions ordering continuing education, teaching staff and, if necessary, from other stakeholders to ensure the high quality of the content and arrangement of continuing education programmes.
At the end of each course, learners and, in the case of ordered courses, the institutions ordering them are asked for feedback. Primary feedback from learners is given to the teacher who can assess during the course already if the themes and methods are appropriate for the target group and enable them to achieve the learning outcomes of the continuing education programme.
The participants are asked for written feedback either on paper or electronically. Participants in e-courses are asked for feedback in Moodle environment.
On the feedback sheet, learners are asked to which extent they acquired the learning outcomes, how they were satisfied with the programme and the arrangement of the course and are asked to give feedback to the teacher.
Feedback is summarised and the results are used for better arrangement of further courses.

Quality assurance of the learning environment
Continuing education courses are generally conducted in the rooms in the buildings of the University of Tartu, which are appropriate for courses, are equipped with the necessary teaching technology, and meet the health care and safety requirements. Rooms for courses are chosen according to the nature of the course. E.g., the courses where the use of computers is needed are conducted in computer classes; the active engagement of learners is supported by rooms where the furniture can be moved, etc.
The rooms have ventilation, drinking water, the equipment used for the course (computer, projector, speakers), internet connection, which the learners can also use. Several lecture rooms of the University of Tartu are equipped with software that can be used for filming the course if necessary.
If the course takes place outside the university rooms, the same requirements that apply for university rooms are followed at the selection of rooms.

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