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Status of the 2012 international external review of AQU Catalunya

Editorial board - AQU Catalunya

It is a condition of membership of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and registration with the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) that all Full Members of ENQA successfully undergo an external review at least once every five years. In accordance with Spanish regulations, only QA agencies that are full members of ENQA and registered with the EQAR can carry out the validation (ex-ante accreditation) of recognised university degree programmes.

AQU Catalunya successfully underwent an international external review coordinated by ENQA in 2007, and this year (2012) it has to undergo another external review to renew its membership to ENQA and EQAR.

The process of international external review identifies and recognises QA agencies that operate in accordance with the European standards and guidelines (ESG) and offers a way to judge the level of conformity of an agency with the ESG. The international external review, and confirmation of an agency's conformity with the ESG, also enables it to:

  • Set in place a instrument that is useful for continuous enhancement.
  • Enhance its credibility and reliability in the context of quality assurance.
  • Contribute to mutual recognition.
  • Develop functions that it could otherwise not carry out.

The external review process that AQU Catalunya is currently undergoing, aside from taking into account the Agency's compliance with the ESG, includes the quality assurance of university teaching staff in order to obtain an external (international) opinion.

The Standards and Guidelines

The ESG are aimed at higher education institutions and quality assurance (QA) agencies, and are in three parts covering:

I. Internal quality assurance of higher education institutions,
II. External quality assurance of higher education, and
III. Quality assurance of external quality assurance agencies.

In order to successfully undergo the review, an agency must be either fully or substantially compliant with the standards.

The ESG standards and guidelines for external quality assurance agencies are as follows:

ESG standards

The review process

During the external review, the Agency is required to produce a self-evaluation report, the purpose of which is to show how it measures up to the ENQA membership criteria/ESG.

During the external review, ENQA appoints a review panel composed of experts who are totally independent of (no conflict of interests with) AQU Catalunya and have a suf?cient level of knowledge, experience and expertise to conduct the review to a high standard. The panel assesses the self-evaluation report, makes a site visit to the agency and draws up an external review report in which it gives its opinion of the degree of compliance with each standard, according to the evidence obtained in the self-evaluation report, the site visit and any additional documentation consulted.

The agency must implement any enhancement recommendations given in the final ENQA-endorsed review report during the five-year period following the international review.

The international external review process

International external review process

Current status of the review process

AQU Catalunya has already submitted its 2012 SELF-EVALUATION REPORT 2012 to ENQA, following the self-evaluation stage. The report contains the following:

  1. Description of the higher education system in Catalonia, the size and scope of the HE system and the structure of quality assurance systems pursuant to Catalan and Spanish legislation.
  2. Description of AQU Catalunya, including the Agency's purpose, functions, structure and operation, the recommendations made in the first international external review by ENQA, and a summary of the Agency's activities during 2008-2012.
  3. Description of AQU Catalunya's compliance with the ESG applicable to QA agencies.

The report is available in Catalan and English.

PDF document PDF INFORME D'AUTOAVALUACIÓ 2012. Avaluació externa per a la confirmació d'AQU Catalunya com a membre de ple dret de l'European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (April 2012)

PDF document PDF SELF-EVALUATION REPORT 2012. External review for the reconfirmation of AQU Catalunya as a full member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (April 2012)

In preparing the report, both an in-house perspective (that of the management and staff of AQU Catalunya) and an external point of view (the contents of the report were shared with public authorities, high ranking university representatives, external experts and students connected with the Agency's QA processes) were taken into consideration.

The external review panel appointed by ENQA entrusted with the review of AQU Catalunya is composed of the following:

  • David Timms, Higher Education Consultant, UK – Chair
  • Agnes Leinweber, German Accreditation Council (GAC), Germany – Secretary
  • Teresa Sánchez, Commission des Titres d'Ingénieur (CTI), France
  • Tia Loukkola, European University Association (EUA)
  • Nadja Kiiskinen – European Students' Union

The review panel is to visit the Agency on 29-30 May 2012 and will interview the following groups:

  • The AQU Board of Management
  • The management and heads of the various sections and departments of AQU Catalunya
  • The AQU Quality Assurance Commission (CAQ)
  • The AQU's teaching staff and research commissions (CLiC Commission and the Research Assessment/CAR Commission)
  • The AQU Student Commission
  • Experts in programme and institutional review
  • University QA units
  • AQU Catalunya staff
  • Secretariat for Universities and Research

AQU Catalunya may appeal or make relevant clarifications regarding any aspects of the panel's external review report. The panel then issues the final review report, which is referred to the ENQA Board and EQAR for their decision regarding whether the Agency should continue to be a full member of ENQA and be registered with EQAR.


Generalitat de Catalunya

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

© 2012 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008