Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya

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Legal framework

The activities of AQU Catalunya are governed by a regulatory framework that is defined, at the Catalan, Spanish and European level, by international guidelines and communiqués and national and regional regulations.


At the European level, the regulatory framework has been developed through the guidelines adopted at the conferences of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education held every two years. Each conference concludes with a communiqué that sets out the areas where progress has been made and establishes the priorities for the next two years. Since the signing of the Bologna Declaration in 1999 up until the present time, conferences have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007) and Leuven/Louvain (2009).

In addition to the forty-six countries in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), different actors involved in European higher education also participate through the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG) in the preparation and subsequent development of each communiqué. These include the European Commission, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the European University Association (EUA), the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), the European Students' Union (ESU), the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), the Education International Pan-European Structure and BUSINESSEUROPE.

The standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the EHEA
The most tangible result of the entire process of European convergence, in terms of quality assurance, was the drafting of the document Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the EHEA, which sets the European standards for the internal and external assurance of quality for higher education institutions and external quality assurance agencies. As mentioned above, these standards were adopted in 2005 by the European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education in the Bergen Declaration. They are included in all review methodologies used by AQU Catalunya.

All reviewers with AQU Catalunya must be familiar with these standards, in particular those applicable to internal evaluations:

PDF PDF Summary of the standards applicable to internal evaluations

PDF PDF Summary of the standards applicable to external evaluations

PDF PDF Summary of the standards applicable to external quality assurance agencies


The principle guideline in Spain is Organic Law 6/2001 (LOU), 21 December, on the Universities (Spanish Universities Act), which defined the basic university regulations and set in place the levels of competence between the universities, the regional authorities and the Spanish national authorities. In line with adaptation to EHEA guidelines, the Spanish Universities Act envisaged a range of measures to enable the necessary modifications to be made to the structures of study programmes in accordance with prevailing EHEA guidelines. The Spanish Universities Act was amended by Organic Law 4/2007, 12 April, (LOMLOU) in 2007. This implied a decisive commitment to harmonisation of the educational systems in Spain according to the European three cycle framework —Bachelor, Master and Doctorate— and amended other aspects, such as teacher selection, restructuring of the relationship between the universities, the regional authorities and the central government, etc.

Of particular importance is Royal Decree 1393/2007, 29 October, concerning the structuring of recognised university studies and qualifications. This Royal Decree established the new qualifications system based on two levels —undergraduate (240 ECTS credits) and postgraduate (a minimum of 60 credits)— and three cycles  —Bachelor, Master and Doctorate. It also defined the ex-ante assessment and accreditation processes for recognised degrees. This regulation was amended by Royal Decree 861/2010, 2 July, which, amongst other aspects, introduced new possibilities of credit recognition; it enabled universities to introduce certain types of distinction and pathways that refer specifically to curriculum enhancement in the design of undergraduate degrees; it authorised quality assurance agencies in the regions (Autonomous Communities) of Spain to issue evaluation reports for the ex-ante assessment of recognised degrees; and it revised the processes involving the ex-ante assessment, modification, monitoring/follow-up and renewal of accreditation.


The principal guideline in Catalonia is Law 1/2003, 19 February, on the Universities in Catalonia (LUC, or Catalan Universities Act). This legislation increased the powers of the Catalan government (Generalitat de Catalunya), as recognised in the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, with regard to education and research. Embedded into the basic framework established by the Spanish Universities Act (Organic Law 6/2001, 21 December), its purpose is the building of a world-class system of higher education that is fully integrated into the EHEA. It also made AQU Catalunya the main instrument for the promotion and assurance of quality in higher education in Catalonia.

Reference documents

Secretariat for Universities and Research. European institutional declarations

Secretariat for Universities and Research. University legislation