January 2013

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2013, the start of degree programme accreditation

Joaquim Prats Cuevas - President

I'd like to start the editorial for the year by pointing out that in 2012 AQU Catalunya satisfactorily underwent the second international external review of its compliance with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance In Higher Education, the outcome of which placed it as one of the two agencies, together with the UK agency, that best comply with the standards and guidelines.

As a consequence of the review, the Agency continues to be a full member of ENQA, of which AQU was a founder member, and it maintains its listing on the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education. ENQA has thirty-six (36) full members, and EQAR has twenty-eight (28). In Europe as a whole, there are around sixty (60) quality assurance (QA) agencies in the field of higher education.

Amongst the benefits of successfully undergoing an external review of these characteristics are the following:

  • The first, which is of vital importance, is that it increases the trust between educational institutions and QA agencies.
  • Secondly, due to the fact that the review process complies with the ESG, both QA agencies and higher education institutions have common points of reference for quality assurance, thereby reinforcing the procedures for the recognition of degrees at European level.

With regard to the first, the satisfactory result of the review is in itself of great merit and gives the universities the guarantee that the Agency works according to certain standards, although continuous efforts are necessary to continue gaining this trust through other ways, such as close collaboration with the universities, transparency and the steady improvement of activities.

In relation to the second point, even though the international dimension and recognition for review processes (and decisions) is still incipient, and AQU Catalunya has been working on this together with our European counterparts, the next few years will see this become a decisive strategic focus point for both QA agencies and the universities. We need to be prepared. At the present time, examples of mutual recognition are to be found within the framework of the MULTRA programme, promoted by the European Consortium for Accreditation.

In the 2013-2014 academic year, the universities and the Agency are set to face an important challenge, namely, the start of the processes involving the external visits and accreditation of degree programmes that have been brought in line with EHEA guidelines and that underwent initial validation either four or six (according to the type of degree) years ago.
The Agency is currently working on making the methodology and process as transparent and participative as possible to ensure the fitness of purpose of the inherent objectives of accreditation with its implementation. For this reason, we continue to work closely with the universities in order to assure the quality of the process and its value within the system.

Accreditation will see an intensification of internationalisation for degree programmes that seek to be competitive in higher education circles abroad. This will mean that the more advanced our processes of international mutual recognition for programmes are, the easier it will be for them to gain recognition at European level and possibly beyond.

As one can see, the abovementioned benefits of external review are not remote aspects that just affect the Agency. They are aspects that are interwoven, and on a daily basis, with the needs of higher education in Catalonia.


Generalitat de Catalunya

C. de Sancho de Ávila, 125-129, 1a planta 08018 Barcelona. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2013 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008