• Send
  • Subscribe


AQU Catalunya and the ex-ante assessment, monitoring, modification and accreditation of recognised degree programmes in Catalonia

Joaquim Prats Cuevas - AQU President

As a result of the passing of Royal Decree 861/2010, of 2 July, which amended Royal Decree 1393/2007, of 29 October, concerning the structuring of recognised university degree courses, AQU Catalunya regained jurisdiction over the ex ante assessment of proposals for recognised awards from Catalan universities for the purposes of accreditation. As such, the Agency is now fully responsible for all ex-ante assessment, monitoring and accreditation processes in Catalonia.

There still remained one obstacle to be overcome, however, which was the assessment of modifications to recognised degree courses in Catalonia that had initially been reviewed by ANECA (the Spanish national QA agency) in the ex-ante assessment process. According to the abovementioned Royal Decree, recognised degree courses would be subject to a dual interaction, with AQU Catalunya in the monitoring and accreditation processes and ANECA for the assessment of programme modifications. In order to resolve this dysfunction, and as a result of the high level of understanding between them, the two agencies signed an addendum to the terms of reference of their established framework partnership agreement, which enables the Catalan agency to assess modifications proposed by Catalan universities to all recognised awards, including those reviewed by ANECA in the ex-ante assessment stage.

As a result, AQU Catalunya now has jurisdiction over all review processes that deal with recognised programmes (ex-ante assessment, monitoring, modification and accreditation) in Catalonia. The Agency's full jurisdiction will formally be established when the Royal Decree is amended to include the addendum to the framework agreement.
In addition to what this signifies for the Agency, I'd like to point out the positive implications of this for the higher education system in Catalonia:

  • Firstly, there will be just one agency that the Catalan universities will have to deal with regarding all review processes. This should improve communication between the universities and the Agency and simplify the review processes, together with all relevant documentation.
  • Another advantage is that it will guarantee the coherency of all of the evaluation processes that a recognised degree programme is subject to, from ex-ante assessment through to accreditation. This will contribute to the soundness of all the processes and also help to simplify them, given that they are all inter-connected through continuous review.
  • It will also reinforce the strategic vision, transparency, leadership and social recognition of the degree programmes and the university itself, as they will have integrated all of the review processes, together with the promoting of the culture of continuous quality enhancement and accountability.
  • And lastly, because the design of this integral process is aimed at the continuous enhancement of degree programmes and universities, the purpose being to make a constructive process available to the universitats that serves as food for thought and to perfect the running of their degree courses.

So why is it positive for the Catalan Agency to be responsible for carrying out these reviews? Because AQU Catalunya, aside from being a recognised QA agency and one that complies with all European requirements and regulations, has more than fourteen years of experience of review work in higher education in Catalonia, together with an excellent understanding of the specific characteristics of HEIs and degrees in the higher education system in Catalonia.

AQU Catalunya is the agency that manages these reviews in Catalonia although its point of reference is Europe and the international context. The AQU's Quality Assessment Commission, which is in charge of all review activities, is consequently made up of an approximately equal balance of members who, on the one hand, are chairpersons from the special review panels who are actively involved in the higher education system in Catalonia and, on the other, international experts who participate in the review processes, thereby ensuring a global perspective. When a site visit to an institution is made, a request can also be put in by degree programmes for a review panel to be comprised of international experts, which further reinforces this global perspective.

The Framework for the ex-ante assessment, monitoring, modification and accreditation of recognised degree programmes is being implemented by AQU Catalunya during 2011. It will enable the Agency to guarantee the cyclical, continuous and comprehensive review of university degree courses given that all review processes from now on will be legally managed by the same agency.


Generalitat de Catalunya

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

© 2011 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008