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In a pioneering measure in Europe, all degree programmes at Catalan universities to include the gender perspective from the 2020-2021 academic year onwards

Publication of a framework document that establishes guidelines and recommendations for programmes and programme delivery, taking into account the needs and interests of both women and men.

  • The objective is to ensure that all barriers maintaining gender equality are eliminated in all QA procedures involving programmes of study.
  • This is an initiative of the Consell Interuniversitari de Catalunya (Inter-University Council of Catalonia/CIC) and the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya)

All higher education programmes of study in Catalonia will incorporate the gender perspective from the 2020-2021 academic year onwards as a result of the joint initiative by the Secretariat for Universities and Research, through the Consell Interuniversitari de Catalunya (CIC), and the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya). This pioneering measure in Europe will mean that all first degree (bachelor's) programmes and master's programmes will have to take into account the gender perspective in all quality assurance procedures, including all associated teaching guides and manuals, course programmes, curriculums and methodologies, amongst others, in order for degree programmes to be delivered.

AQU Catalunya has already made available to the universities the document General framework for incorporating the gender perspective in higher education teaching [ca], which establishes diagnosis features and indicators to facilitate the effective inclusion of the gender perspective in teaching across all areas of knowledge.

According to Lluís Baulenas, the CIC's secretary general, "it is important that the needs and interests of both women and men be taken into account in teaching in Catalan universities, and that higher education institutions act to eliminate the often invisible barriers that maintain gender equality". He also added that the framework document produced by AQU Catalunya is an initiative of the CIC's Women and Science Committee (Comissió Dones i Ciència).

Martí Casadesús, the director of AQU Catalunya, has stated that "with this framework the Agency contributes to the effective and continuous implementation of the gender perspective in all degree courses that are run in Catalonia and positions the university system in Catalonia as a point of reference for Europe as a whole". Casadesús says that this measure will be progressively implemented in QA procedures through the VSMA Framework for ex-ante accreditation, monitoring, modification and ex-post accreditation from January 2020 onwards.

This measure fulfils compliance with article 28.1 of Act 17/2015, dated 21 July, on effective equality between men and women, which calls for the inclusion of the gender perspective in the curriculum of all first degree and postgraduate degree programmes, together with studies on the contribution of women throughout history in all fields of knowledge and in both academic and research activities, and that the gender perspective shall be taken into account in accreditation procedures.

The inclusion of the gender perspective is to be applied to all degree programmes in all five fields of knowledge (Arts and Humanities, Social and Legal Sciences, Experimental Sciences, Health Sciences, and Engineering and Architecture).

The document produced by AQU Catalunya clarifies the more important concepts and dimensions and provides a framework with different diagnostic features and QA indicators that affect both programme teaching and learning strategies and the way in which programmes are delivered. It gives a precise definition of gender mainstreaming or, in other words, how to develop the capability to assess gender-based inequalities and design solutions.

The gender perspective deepens the understanding of the needs, behaviour and attitudes of the population as a whole and shies away from one-sided interpretations like the essentialism of men and of women. At the same time, a gender perspective in teaching stimulates critical thinking in the students as it provides them with new tools to identify social stereotypes, norms and roles of gender and prevent gender blindness later on in their professional careers.

The document is aimed mainly at the bodies and facilities in charge of the planning, management and quality assurance of teaching in universities and other higher education institutions.

The document was produced by a working group coordinated by Glòria González (Universitat de Autònoma de Barcelona) and Tània Verge (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), and comprised of Eulalia Pérez (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC), Maria Teresa Ruiz (Universitat d'Alacant), Inés Sánchez (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Encarna Bas (Universidad de Murcia), Maria Àngels Gensana (Institut Català de les Dones) and Eva Benito (AQU Catalunya). The framework document is based on the report titled "The gender perspective in teaching and research in the Vives Network (Xarxa Vives) of universities".

Presentation to the Committee of University Rectors in Spain (CRUE)

The AQU Catalunya document has just today been submitted to CRUE's sectoral committee for gender policies by the University of Alicante's Vice-rector for Responsibility, Inclusion and Equality, María José Rodríguez, one of the members of Xarxa Vives, as an example for the national university system in Spain to follow.