September 2013

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A landmark event for higher studies in the Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Heritage

Miquel Mirambell Abancó - Director, Escola Superior de Conservació i Restauració de Béns Culturals de Catalunya

On 3 July 2013 AQU Catalunya issued the final validation assessment reports for higher studies in Dance, Dramatic Arts, Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Design and Music.

The path to making this landmark event a reality has been long and complex. In the end, however, it turned out to be a pioneering experience in Catalonia and Spain as a whole, in that an agency responsible for quality assurance in the system of higher education and universities validated higher studies taught outside of the universities. At the Escola Superior de Conservació i Restauració de Béns Culturals de Catalunya (ESCRBCC, School of Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Heritage) we are highly satisfied with the entire process that was carried out, on the one hand, because of its importance and, on the other, because of the collective efforts by everybody in the School, which have placed the institution's mission on a firmer footing, which is none other than to train future curators and restorers of our cultural heritage.

The ESCRBCC is a publicly funded institution set up by the Catalan authorities (Generalitat de Catalunya) in 1991. Since then and up until the 2011-2012 academic year, the courses offered and taught were equivalent to the pre-Bologna first-cycle, three-year university degree or diplomatura. From September 2010 onwards, these courses and awards began to be transformed into degree courses with 240 ECTS credits that are divided up into four academic years and Bologna-adapted, the curriculum for which was published, as a transitional measure, in the Official Journal of the Generalitat of Catalonia (DOGC) following Resolution EDU/ 3777, 17 November 2010.

From 2012 onwards, the formal process of validation by AQU Catalunya began, which was successfully completed in July 2013, even though the ESCRBCC had been working for years to this same end.

Given the characteristics and experience of the ESCRBCC, our conclusion is that it was a highly rewarding experience and a unique opportunity because the highest aspiration of any teacher is to design the curriculum that has to be taught. Thanks to the involvement of a tight group of people, we were able to produce our curriculum following on from twenty years of teaching experience, which is an aspect that undoubtedly had an effect on the drawing up of our validation report, as shown by the fact that the review panel from AQU Catalunya assessed our academic staff as being one of the institution's main strong points.

The signing of the agreement between the Catalan government's Ministry of Education and AQU Catalunya concerning the validation of higher studies in the Arts according to the same procedure as university undergraduate degrees has opened a wide range of possibilities. In a recent article I wrote about the uniqueness of studying Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Catalonia,1 in that one can study at either university (in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona/UB) or outside the university (at the ESCRBCC), which is exceptional in Spain, although somewhat frequent elsewhere in Europe. In the case of the ESCRBCC, validation by AQU Catalunya has allowed us to firmly continue in our work of training and preparing curators and restorers of the cultural heritage in Catalonia and helps us disseminate higher studies in a subject that likely as not remains out of the public eye.

1 MIRAMBELL ABANCÓ, Miquel: "L'embolic d’estudiar conservació i restauració de béns culturals a Catalunya" (The confusion around studying the restoration and preservation of cultural heritage in Catalonia), Rescat. Centre de Restauració de Béns Mobles de Catalunya (Barcelona), 20 (Autumn 2012), p. 6 (Rescat núm. 20, tardor 2012, p. 6) [http://www20.gencat.cat/docs/msi-cultura/CRBMC/pdf/Arxiu/RESCAT_20.pdf].


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