November 2013


On the shoulders of giants

Josep Joan Moreso Mateos - President

Looking back now, AQU Catalunya is a quality assurance agency that right from the very beginning has had Europe and the world at large as a main point of reference. Proof of this is the fact that in 1998 it registered with the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) and in 1999 it was one of the founding agencies of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).

More than ten years later, the INQAAHE Board has chosen AQU Catalunya to host up until 2015 the Secretariat of this international organisation, which brings together more than 200 higher education institutions around the world, and as such it has taken over from the NVAO, the Netherlands QA agency.

Needless to say, this recognition of the track record and capabilities of AQU Catalunya is yet another reason for us to feel proud of the work of an organisation that, as the first of its type to be set up in Spain seventeen years ago and in the hands of various different managerial teams, has successfully carried out the work that is the constant of its activities as a QA agency.

This has led to it becoming one of the leading QA agencies in Europe, which is referred to and visited by an increasing number of people from abroad, and shows that any human project is more sound and better organised when based on important contributions that have been made before. The expression, 'On the shoulders of giants', was made famous by Isaac Newton, the English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time, although its origin is attributed to Bernard of Chartres, a twelfth-century scholar, who wrote in Medieval Latin, 'Gigantium humeris insidentes, ut possimus plura eis et remotiora videre', or 'on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than them, and things at a greater distance'.

We will continue to work with the same resolve and intensity to improve on and enhance what has already been set in place and to seek ways of going even further. This 'going even further' means making the Agency into an instrument that is more accessible and available to all stakeholders in higher education and the university system in Catalonia, and more available and meaningful in all dimensions, and also very substantially placing the international dimension of AQU Catalunya on an even firmer footing.

In this regard our resolve will be to understand and support the needs of the universities in Catalonia. While in recent years the international activities of AQU Catalunya have been gradually growing with its participation and involvement in different European projects, for example, being present on the ENQA Board and now hosting the INQAAHE Secretariat, this sphere of the Agency's work now needs to be better structured in order to provide support to the university system in Catalonia in its strategies for internationalisation by making our expertise in this particular field available.

The future depends on looking beyond, amongst other things, to fortify higher education and the universities; to get the very best out of quality-level teaching (and research) that is already recognised at international level; and to attract the international talent of all levels of student, but in particular, of post-graduate and doctorate-level students and researchers to invigorate research in Catalonia. AQU Catalunya can help and it must help the universities to do this work, and we are prepared and ready to do so. Gigantium humeris insidentes.


Generalitat de Catalunya

c/. dels Vergós, 36-42. 08017 Barcelona. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2013 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008