January 2015


The new Strategic Plan 2015-2018

Josep Joan Moreso Mateos - President

Pla estratègic 2015-2018 The Strategic Plan for AQU Catalunya to be unfolded in the period from 2015-2018 was endorsed by the AQU Board of Management on 15 December 2014.

This is not the Agency's first strategic plan. Approval for an Action Plan was given in 2001, which was a blueprint for a strategic plan, and the first Strategic Plan as such was endorsed in 2009 for the period covering 2009-2012. The Plan was fulfilled to a reasonable degree, despite the fact that it was the first time that the organisation had implemented a strategic plan, along with the budgetary constraints.

The new Strategic Plan understandably draws inspiration from the previous plan, yet it clearly marks a shift resulting from on-going developments in the Agency and the context of the university system in Catalonia.

My main focus here is to highlight the main differences compared to the previous plan, several of which are of a structural nature and others more to do with content.

As regards structure, the new Plan maintains the same mission and series of values according to which the Agency operates; it incorporates the overall vision for the Agency, or an overview of the "big picture" and, more importantly, the eight strategic priorities of the previous Plan have been simplified into six: Institutional Quality (which before was Quality Assurance of Institutions and Programmes); Quality of Teaching Staff and Teaching (Quality Assurance of Teaching); Knowledge generation and transfer (Analysis of the Higher Education System); Internationalisation (External Relations); Strategic management (Communication and Students) and Internal Organisation (Management and Organisation, and People).

As regards content, the evolutionary shift from the old to the new Plan can be seen from a comparison of the areas of priority in the two Strategic Plans. It is worth pointing out, however, four new developments which are the most important.

The first is that the main objective in the 2009 Plan, in terms of the strategic areas of priority which are the purpose or essence of the Agency, was quality assurance, an expression that clearly denotes action, whereas the focus in 2015 is on quality itself, which implies the presence or absence of certain properties. This shift is significant in that it is the result of the on-going developments in the Agency's activities and also the context. One should bear in mind that in 2009 quality assurance (QA) agencies, such as the Catalan agency, were excluded under Spanish regulations from the initial reporting process prior to programme validation (ex ante assessment) unless an agreement had been signed with the national QA agency (ANECA). At that time, it was therefore fully justifiable for the strategic objective to be to autonomously undertake what are the normal activities of a QA agency. Now that this stage has been surpassed, the focus for the period from 2015-18 can be placed on the enhancement of quality in the university system.

The second is that institutional quality and the quality of teaching are approached from an institutional perspective. The areas of strategic priority for the period from 2015-2018 include the implementation of a model for institutional review and assessment; a shift towards more efficient models to assess the functioning of university faculties and schools, which are ultimately responsible for the quality assurance of study programmes that are being run, and for progress to be made towards the certification of faculties and schools in order for them to be more autonomous and to enable the Agency's activities to focus more on underpinning and promoting quality assurance. Teaching staff is also viewed from a more institutional perspective, with support for improving faculty staff policies at Catalan universities and an integrated approach to institutional review.

The third new development is in the sphere of knowledge transfer and information processing. In 2009 the approach was to make clear, complete and up-to-date information accessible to society, a goal that was achieved. The challenge in the new Strategic Plan is to convey the information in different ways according to the target stakeholders so as to facilitate the making of decisions, while at the same time respecting the nature of projects and maintaining rigorous standards. This means not just making information available to society, but making information available that is relevant and useful. Our intention therefore is to encourage knowledge management as a way to improve the system.

To sum up, and in accordance with the needs and requirements of the universities in Catalonia, in this new period the Agency will need to internationalise its activities as a way of honing its activities as an instrument. In the previous plan, the approach was to establish external relations, whereas the aim in the new Plan is to promote a policy of cooperation and alliances that supports and upgrades the internationalisation of the university system in Catalonia.

By definition, strategic plans need to ambitious and their purpose is to bring about change. The intention of AQU Catalunya is to change and adapt according to the new needs, requirements and challenges facing the universities and demands that impinge from abroad. We live in a world of globalisation and there is no room for indulgence in incapacitating self-congratulation. The Catalan university system is demanding, very dynamic and one of the best university systems in the world, and the Agency needs to comply with its demands and, at the same time, count on its cooperation. We trust that this new Strategic Plan will serve as the appropriate instrument for achieving this.


Generalitat de Catalunya

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© 2014 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008