September 2013

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The start of the new academic year!

Martí Casadesús Fa - Director

I'd like to start out, not just because I should but because I wish to, by expressing my gratitude, first, for the trust placed in me by the president of AQU Catalunya, Dr. Josep Joan Moreso, in proposing me as the new director of the Agency. There is a high level of understanding between us and our belief is that together we make a good team to head the Agency. I would also like to thank the members of the Board of Management of AQU Catalunya for having supported the proposal, together with the Minister for Economy and Knowledge, Dr. Andreu Mas-Colell, for having accepted it.

Notwithstanding the responsibility, I am very enthusiastic about taking over this post and dealing with the issue of "quality management", which, in one way or another, my entire academic activity has been dedicated to. What motivates me, and this clearly goes beyond any personal desires that one could have, is the possibility that presents itself of playing my small part in improving and enhancing quality in the system of higher education and the universities in Catalonia. I take up the post fully aware, as ex-vice-rector, of some of the current problems in the system, yet at the same time convinced of my capabilities to improve things. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have accepted the post.

I also take this opportunity to praise the work of AQU Catalunya's previous management team, especially the director Dr. Josep Anton Ferrer as the CEO of AQU Catalunya. Bearing in mind the complex and innovative framework for the validation, monitoring and accreditation of recognised degrees that was set in motion during his time as director of the Agency, together with the fact that AQU was appraised by ENQA as being one of the best QA agencies, I can but take my hat off to him. The standards set by him are very high and the challenge that we now face is immense, but this is precisely what gives us encouragement, and more so now that, just within days of my being the head of the Agency, I have seen that we count on a really good team to take up this new challenge.

Setting aside any originality for this first editorial, I would also like to mention the main guidelines for this new stage of the Agency. It will be necessary over the next few months to draw up and discuss the new strategic plan, given that the current one has come to an end, although there are clearly certain lines of action where emphasis will need to be placed. Of these, I would like to point out two in particular.

The first is based on minimising, within the framework of international standards, the impact of review and evaluation in terms of the excessive red-tape that this type of activity is often unjustifiably qualified as being associated with. Although the cause for this lies in most cases beyond the remit of AQU Catalunya (Spanish legislation, software developed by the Ministry in Madrid, etc.), we need to continue working on improving the overall system, and especially now that, with the new academic year, we are about to start the process of (degree) programme accreditation. All of our efforts will be needed for this work, which is without doubt more of a political than an academic nature.

And secondly, I believe it's time to enhance the added value that the Agency provides to the system, and one way of doing this is by analysing and disseminating much of the information that we already have available (assessments, reviews and evaluations of teaching staff, degree courses, faculties, etc.). The aim of this, through the contributions and work of everyone involved, should be to better diagnose the system and ultimately improve decision-making. The availability of funding will clearly be a crucial aspect for this to be possible.

The new start of the academic year, together with the new stage that sees the president and myself starting at the helm of AQU Catalunya, calls for an intense period of dialogue with the Executive Council (Govern) of Catalonia through the Secretariat for Universities and Research, and with the universities themselves represented by their rectors (vice-chancellors), vice-rectors, heads of university quality units, programme coordinators and academic managers, faculty staff, students, etc. We clearly need to listen to what everyone has to say so that a straight and steady path can be marked out and followed over the next few years.

Let's get to it then, and the very best to everyone for the new term at the start of the year!


Generalitat de Catalunya

c/. dels Vergós, 36-42. 08017 Barcelona. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

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