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The institutional review of affiliated institutions in Catalonia

Josep Manel Torres Solà - Coordinator of Quality Assessment department of AQU Catalunya

There are forty-seven (47) affiliated institutions in Catalonia at the present time. Most of these institutions either currently offer recognised university degrees or will offer them from the next academic year onwards. Given the circumstances of the university system in Catalonia being brought into line with the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the Directorate General for Universities (DGU) is seeking to ensure that all affiliated institutions comply with certain minimum quality criteria. The Board of Planning of the Inter-university Council of Catalonia has established that affiliated institutions wishing to introduce new degrees are now subject to a process of institutional review.

AQU Catalunya is instrumental in the institutional review of affiliated institutions, the main aims of which are:

  1. To assist affiliated institutions in the university system in Catalonia to achieve a level of quality that enables them to securely prepare and give new Bachelor and Master's degrees and instigate the setting up of quality assurance systems.
  2. To encourage certain institutions to attain or demonstrate that they have attained advanced levels of quality in one or more spheres of their activity.
  3. To assist in decision making by the Board of the Inter-university Council of Catalonia and the Ministry of Innovation, Universities and Enterprise in relation to university programming.

Reviews are structured according to two levels: a basic level, which is compulsory for all institutions, and an optional advanced level. Four dimensions are evaluated in the basic level review: programmes of study, the management of the institution, human resources and physical resources. The aim of the advanced level is to encourage institutions to enhance their quality to levels of excellence, in one or more spheres of their activity. In addition to the four basic level dimensions – of a more demanding nature – a broader range of the institution's activities is taken into consideration, including research and knowledge transfer, as well as involvement in the community. In the advanced level review, the institution may decide how many of these dimensions it wishes to submit for evaluation.

The institutional review programme for affiliated institutions has a three-stage structure and was started in September 2008 with the participation of forty (40) institutions that were planning to introduce either recognised Bachelor's or Master's degree from the 2009-2010 academic year onwards. The first stage involved the participation of institutions that either had never been reviewed by AQU Catalunya or had not implemented any kind of certified internal quality assurance system (ISO, EFQM or similar). A total of thirteen (13) institutions participated, of which four (4) also underwent an advanced level review. The external review took place in January and February, with the external reports being issued in March. The results were highly positive: all of the institutions complied to a substantial degree with the criteria and standards of the basic level, with four (4) of them being fully compliant. Although the results of the advanced level review were more dispersed, 70% of the dimensions that were evaluated were favourably assessed. The results and external reports are available on AQU website.

The second stage of the programme, which began in March, involved the participation of thirteen (13) institutions that offer Bachelor degrees in the fields of physical education, business studies and engineering. The self assessment stage is currently under way and will be completed by 30 June. The external review will take place over a period of one month from the middle of September onwards, following the start of the new academic year.

The third and last stage in the programme will start in June and be completed with the site visit in December. This stage will see the participation of fourteen (14) institutions that offer degrees in the fields of design, health and tourism. The completion of this stage will bring to an end the most extensive institutional review of university institutions in Catalonia. A final report on the results of this programme will be issued during the first quarter of 2010 and made available on the AQU website.


Generalitat de Catalunya

Via Laietana, 28, 5a planta 08003 Barcelona. Spain. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2008 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008