April 2015


The accreditation of recognised university degree programmes: an assessment of the experience

Jesús Tricás Preckler - Dean, IQS School of Management, Ramon Llull University

aIQS School of Management, which comes under the Ramon Llull University, underwent the process of accreditation of three of its recognised degree programmes in the autumn of 2014, the outcome of which was favourable for all three programmes and for all aspects that were assessed.

The three programmes, the Bachelor's programme in Business Administration and Management, the Master's programme in Industrial Business Management and the Master's programme in International Marketing and Sales Management, were validated in 2008, 2009 and 2012 respectively.

The main challenges of the accreditation procedure for IQS were preparing the documentation, which serves as the basis for a sound assessment, and organising the site visit to the School by the external review panel, both of which are key aspects of programme accreditation.

Preparation of the documentation: the evidence

IQS School of Management is an accredited institution of the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), the well-respected global accreditation organisation of schools of business. Due to this, the accreditation procedure was simplified and use made of the AACSB'S fifth year maintenance of accreditation report, instead of a specific self-assessment report, together with the corresponding positive assessment report from the renewal of accreditation in 2012.

The main task as far as the documentation is concerned was collecting and organising the evidence. For the three programmes being accredited, more than 400 documents were prepared and then submitted via the IQS's online campus. The evidence was classified according to the instructions given in the Guide to the accreditation of recognised first and second cycle degree programmes (version 1.0, November 2013), organised on the basis of the six given standards.

The site visit to the School: the focus groups

Prior to the visit, the information was reviewed by the members of the external review panel, who then requested further evidence on certain aspects regarding the programmes. This part of the process was particularly useful in that the necessary documentation was completed well in advance and the School could proceed with the organisation of the definitive site visit.

The basic aim of the site visit was to hold the focus groups according to the schedule and with the people concerned. The members of the external review team met with the management team (including the programme coordinators) and representatives of the teachers, students, graduates and employers. The IQS is very grateful to all of them for their willingness and availability to adapt to the limitations set by the timetable.

During the morning, the facilities were also visited, in particular the four storeys in the new building of the IQS Campus inaugurated in September 2012 specifically for the IQS School of Management.

The intense work of the visit was carried out in a friendly atmosphere, and all of those who took part in the focus groups referred to the professionalism of the members of the external review team and commented that it was a highly interesting experience.

The site visit concluded with the presentation of the preliminary conclusions by the management team. It also brought to an end the laborious work of preparation carried out over a period of several months.

The external review report

The underlying aim of the report produced by the external review panel is improvement and enhancement. To this end, the report refers to good practices identified during the site visit, it highlights strengths that are worthy of mention and gives a list of enhancement proposals. All of the comments and contributions made in the report were relevant and will undoubtedly contribute to the continuous improvement of each degree course. In the case of the IQS School of Management, no mention was made of compulsory improvement for any aspect.

Final considerations

In conclusion, we'd like to point out three aspects of the experience of the accreditation procedure:

  • In terms of the documentation, the usefulness of AQU Catalunya's Guide to the accreditation of recognised first and second cycle degree programmes, which is available online from the Agency's website. The guide's contents are very clear and this made it very easy to provide the evidence that was requested and to explain to the participants in the different focus groups their purpose in the process.
  • Internally, the accreditation procedure enabled us to make a systematic assessment of programme delivery and of the core processes set out in the School's system of internal quality assurance. In terms of those involved, it served to heighten the involvement of all the stakeholders in the actual process and obtain a better understanding of the standards of quality, monitoring and the review of enhancement proposals for each programme.
  • At the external level, receiving the opinions of experts, who have extensive knowledge, on the strengths and possible ways to improve the degree programmes was certainly of great help for developing the Enhancement Plan, and it also lead to interesting suggestions as regards the institution itself.

We are therefore of the opinion that, with the considerable effort involved in compiling and duly explaining all of the required evidence behind us, the experience of the procedure was highly satisfactory. Special mention is made here of the work carried out by the different groups in IQS and, in particular, the personal and professional capability of the five members of the external review panel who over a period of several months reviewed and analysed the degree programmes run at the School and provided an external and professional point of view of programme delivery and outcomes at IQA. Our sincere thanks to them all. 


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