Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya

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Certification of internal quality assurance systems

The importance of internal systems for quality assurance (IQAs) and their influence on the higher education system is illustrated by the requirements laid down in the different regulations governing higher education degree programmes.
On the one hand, for the introduction of new first degree, master's and doctoral programmes since 2007, Royal Decrees 1393/2007 and 99/2011 stipulate that new programmes must have a functioning IQAs, the design of which is reviewed in the Validation (ex-ante assessment) stage.

On the other hand, in 2015 Royal Decree 420/2015 established the new institutional accreditation procedure whereby the certification of IQAs implementation plays a key role.

AQU Catalunya has been assisting higher education institutions to design institutional IQAs through the AUDIT programme since 2007. Now that IQAs have been introduced in HEIs in Catalonia for several years now, the Agency has developed this programme to review the introduction and implementation of IQAs and, where applicable, to grant the relevant certification.

Objective

The objective of the review for IQAS certification is to check that the system has been implemented and is operative in the faculty responsible for running the programmes covered by the IQAS and that it is appropriate for the programme's quality assurance.

Certification of a faculty's IQAS shows at the very least that the operating mechanisms (validation, monitoring, modification and accreditation) underpinning the continuous enhancement of its study programmes are running effectively.
 

Effects

  • Faculties in possession of the certification of IQAs implementation which have accredited at least 50% of the first degrees and 50% of the master's programmes that they deliver are eligible for institutional accreditation.
  • If a faculty is in possession of the certification of IQAs implementation, but has still not accredited the required percentage of programmes to become eligible for institutional accreditation, any remaining programmes that are submitted for ex-ante accreditation, modification and accreditation shall be exempt from submitting additional documentation related to quality assurance systems.

Requirements

Eligibility for IQAs implementation certification requires compliance by a higher education institution with the requirements that safeguard the viability of an external review.

A faculty will therefore need to ensure that it complies with the following:

  • The programmes it delivers under the scope of the IQAs must have already produced graduates.
  • The design of the implemented IQAs has either received a favourable report from the AUDIT programme or, alternatively, it has been successfully evaluated by the institution's QA unit.
  • The faculty's IQAs is a mature and stable system, all of the procedures dealing with the quality assurance of study programmes are implemented and operational, and it obtains satisfactory results.
  • The faculty has reviewed the IQAs at least once. Where applicable, an enhancement plan has been set in motion as a result of this review.
  • The information on the QA procedures of the VSMA framework in which the faculty has participated and the reports stemming from these procedures is complete and accessible to all of the stakeholders.
  • There is clear evidence that enhancement measures are undertaken as a consequence of the QA procedures that are carried out.

If any of these aspects are not complied with during the IQAs certification procedure, the outcome of certification will be adverse.
 

Methodology and frequently asked questions

PDF document PDF Guide to the Certification of IQAs Implementation (January 2018)

Ajuda / Ayuda / Help Frequently asked questions

Applications and the review procedure

Applications can be made at any time. Faculty IQAS certification is jointly planned by AQU Catalunya and the universities every year. Institutions must make an individual application for certification for each faculty using the following form, which is to be filled out and submitted to the official register:

PDF Call for applications (Official Journal of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia/DOGC)

WORD Application form

Three months prior to the site visit by the external review panel, the institution must make available all of the following documentation connected with the implementation of the IQAs, preferably on its website:

  • QA handbook with the IQAs procedures.
  • List of the indicators linked to the IQAs and of the latest associated values used to revise the procedures, according to the frequency stipulated in the IQAs itself.
  • Records generated by the IQAs, such as the IQAs review reports, enhancement plans, etc.

The external review panel will undertake an initial review of the documentation, which may give rise to a preliminary site visit and the drawing up of a report on the quality of the evidence provided, the need for any new evidence and the relevance of continuing with the certification procedure.

When any new evidence, where applicable, has been submitted, the external review panel then carries out a site visit to the institution to check the degree to which the IQAs has been implemented and is operational, together with its capability to assure the quality of study programmes.

The institution may submit supporting arguments in relation to the report resulting from the site visit. In cases where the preliminary external review report calls for the compulsory modification of the IQAs, the faculty has up to a maximum of six months to submit a plan of corrective actions to the IQAs external review panel, together with the corresponding evidence showing that these will fulfil any non-compliances identified. The IQAs external review panel makes an assessment of the action plan and evidence submitted, following which it issues the final external review report.

The committee that certifies IQAs implementation then issues the final certification report, either in terms of a successful or adverse outcome.

The reports issued by the committee that certifies IQAs implementation may be appealed before AQU Catalunya's Appeals Committee. The deadline for a ruling by the Appeals Committee is three months, a formality that brings the application process to a definitive close.

Validity

Certification is valid for five years and can be renewed for a further five-year period following a new external review procedure.

During the period of validity of certification, the IQAS Implementation Certification Committee reserves the right to modify the scope of certification or suspend or revoke certification in cases where:

  • Changes occur that adversely and irreversibly alter the conditions in which the IQAS was certified.
  • Inappropriate use is made of the certification certificate.
     

Background

link AUDIT programme

7.12.2018