July 2015


The new AQU Catalunya Act: sincere thanks to everyone involved!

Josep Joan Moreso Mateos - President

On 8 July 2015 the Parliament of Catalonia passed the AQU Catalunya Act (Llei de l'Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya)1. Following seven years of insistence by AQU Catalunya that new legislation to cover the Agency was necessary, the Act was finally passed after the third attempt2.

And first off it is worth pointing out that there was consensus about the Act. During the debate all of the parliamentary groups expressed a favourable opinion on both the work carried out by AQU Catalunya and the proposed legislation, as reflected in the final vote (87 votes in favour and 40 abstentions).

New legislation was necessary for AQU Catalunya, above all to comply with the recommendations of the external international review of AQU Catalunya carried out in 2007 in relation to: appointment of the Agency's President and Director and the chairs of the review committees; an increase in the Agency's Board of Management to include students and labour representatives; plus the setting up of an appeals committee and the merging of the CLiC committee, which deals with tenure-track and collaborating teaching staff, with the Research Assessment Committee (CAR).

In addition to compliance with the requirements of international external reviews, the opportunity was also taken by the Government of Catalonia's Executive Council to strengthen the Agency by giving an update to its functions and making its structure more flexible.

The most important aspects of the new legislation in this regard, I believe, are:

  1. The setting up of an Appeals Committee in charge of dealing with appeals filed against the decisions of review panels in the Agency's QA procedures. This committee will ensure that there are more safeguards as regards technical independence than the current model, in which it is the review committee chairperson who issues the final ruling in appeals.
  2. An increase in the representation on the Governing Board (formerly the Board of Management) and its Standing Committee so as to now include the rectors from all public and private universities in Catalonia, student representatives and labour representatives.
  3. A more flexible structure, with the Governing Board now having the power to set up, modify and abolish the Agency's permanent and non-permanent committees, with the exception of the Advisory Committee and the Research Assessment Committee (CAR), into which the CLiC committee, which deals with tenure-track and collaborating teaching staff, has been merged.

The Agency now has several months to make the necessary adaptations. The changes will not result in a radical transformation and so users will not be immediately aware of them. The Agency's new structure, however, with opinions in its governing bodies now coming from new sources, together with its new functions, will mean that the Agency will be more efficient, flexible and capable of better adapting to present-day and future requirements and of continuing to provide good service as an external QA agency to higher education and the university system in Catalonia.

Legislation of this type is not passed every day. As I mentioned at the beginning, it has taken more than seven years of endless work, together with three governments and three Agency Presidents and Directors.

For this reason I am very grateful to the Government of Catalonia's Executive Council (Govern de la Generalitat de Catalunya), the Catalan Government's Minister for Economy and Knowledge, the Secretary for Universities and Research and the Director General for Universities, for promoting the new Act; the rapporteur and the MPs presenting the bill to the Parliament of Catalonia for their efforts in obtaining consensus and improving the wording of the draft bill; and to all of the parliamentary groups for their awareness of the need for new legislation on AQU Catalunya to be passed within the current parliamentary term.

I am also extremely grateful to everyone who supported the passing of the Act, including the rectors of all the Catalan universities and chairpersons of the universities' Social Councils (boards of trustees), as well the representatives of student organisations, labour organisations and ENQA who were involved. I also include here the staff of the Secretariat for Universities and Research who were involved, especially the Legal Department, and the staff of AQU Catalunya who took part in the whole procedure.

And last, but not least, my special thanks to the ex-President of AQU Catalunya, Dr. Antoni Serra Ramoneda (1998-2008), because it was under him when it became clear that new legislation was necessary and, above all, ex-President Dr. Joaquim Prats Cuevas (2008-2013), for his untiring work in placing the AQU Catalunya Act on the political agenda and of making it a reality.

The current Director and I have contributed in every way possible to this final process and we are extremely lucky to be the ones who benefit from the work of everyone involved. It is now up to us to bring the transformation of the Agency under the new legislation to a successful conclusion. Thank you, everyone!


1 AQU Catalunya was established in 1996 as a result of Decree 355/1996, 29 October, under which a consortium (Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency/Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari a Catalunya) was set up. This was amended by Act 1/2003, 19 February, on the Universities in Catalonia/LUC (published in the Official Gazette of the Government of Catalonia [DOGC] no. 3826, 20 February 2003).

2 Two draft bills were presented in Parliament by the respective governments in 2010 and 2012 although difficulties with the electoral calendar resulted in there being insufficient time for parliamentary process to deal with these bills.



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