January 2016


The AQU Catalunya Appeals Committee

Jordi Escolar Bañeres - Legal advisor

Comissió d'apel·lacionsOne of the main new developments introduced by Law 15/2015, 21 July, on the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya), is that all review of decisions related to quality review and assurance, certification and accreditation is to be carried out by a collegiate body called the Appeals Committee.

More specifically, the Appeals Committee is set up under article 16 of the Law as a provision of legal certainty and objectivity for decisions by the Research Assessment Commission, the Institutional and Programme Review Commission and other review bodies established by the Agency's Governing Board.

The new specific legislation on AQU Catalunya sets out all of the enhancement measures proposed since the Agency was established as a consortium in 1996, along with those made since its powers were amended and increased following legislation passed in 2003 (LUC) on the universities in Catalonia.

Pursuant to the regulations governing the review of the Agency's proceedings prior to the passing of Law 15/2015, it was the chairs of the Agency's commissions and committees that were responsible for the review of all decisions by AQU Catalunya in matters of quality assurance, which in practice meant that there were three review bodies, two for university teaching staff and one for institutional review.

The fact that the Agency's proceedings and decisions were reviewed by single-member bodies was identified by ENQA's international external review panel in 2007 as being an opportunity for improvement (to the Agency). In the following external review by ENQA in 2012,1 the importance was also underlined of there being a separate appeals committee independent from other review and QA bodies. Mention of this commission in the draft legislation in 20092 was positively acknowledged by ENQA's external review panel.

In line with the abovementioned international external review, and according to the two versions of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (2005 and 2015), complaints and appeals processes should be clearly defined as part of the design of external quality assurance processes and communicated to the institutions. The purpose of these procedures is to safeguard the rights of the institutions and to ensure fair decision-making through external quality assurance that is open and accountable. A complaints procedure allows an institution to state its dissatisfaction about the conduct of the process or those carrying it out.

The setting up of the Appeals Committee addresses the Agency's need for a single body that is responsible for its proceedings and decision-making regarding the quality assurance, certification and accreditation of university teaching and research staff, study programmes and other activities carried out by AQU Catalunya.
The fact that the Agency will have just one review body for its proceedings involving quality assurance, certification and accreditation will also ensure that uniform and inclusive guidelines in compliance with European standards are in place, as this specialised commission will have the capacity and commitment to issue recommendations and proposals for improving QA and review procedures.

In short, the Appeals Committee is the body responsible for ruling on appeals filed in relation to decisions by the AQU Catalunya's Research Assessment Commission, the Institutional and Programme Review Commission and other bodies in the Agency involved in quality review and assurance, certification and accreditation. Resolutions by the committee shall be final (i.e. exhaust administrative procedures). In accordance with the new legislation, the Committee is also responsible for issuing review reports on QA procedures that form part of other processes, such as the validation and accreditation of recognised study programmes and qualifications.

The composition of the Committee consists of three members who are nominated by the President of AQU Catalunya for appointment by the Governing Board. Dr. Maria Pau Ginebra Molins, professor of the UPC's Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering was chosen from among the academics of standing who are also members on the Governing Board to be appointed committee chairperson, along with Dr. Joan Gómez Pallarès, professor of Latin at the UAB's Department of Sciences of Antiquity and the Middle Ages and director of the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology, and Dr. Tomàs Font i Llovet, professor of Administrative Law at the University of Barcelona, both being appointed by the Governing Board as committee members with academic, scientific and/or professional standing.

The inaugural meeting of the Appeals Committee was held on 2 December 2015, in which the committee's rules of procedure were established and endorsed, together with the procedure for reviewing proceedings and decisions by the Agency involving quality assurance, certification and accreditation.

1 Report of the panel of the ENQA coordinated review of the Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya (AQU Catalunya), July 2012. http://www.aqu.cat/doc/doc_45221995_1.pdf.

2 Butlletí Oficial del Parlament de Catalunya, no. 729, 2 June 2009 (pp. 11-18). http://www.parlament.cat/document/nom/08b729.pdf.


Generalitat de Catalunya

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© 2016 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008