September 2012

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AQU Catalunya reaffirms its position as a leading QA agency in Europe

Joaquim Prats Cuevas - President

In mid-July AQU Catalunya received the report from the international external review carried out by ENQA, with the analysis of the Agency's compliance with the European standards and guidelines (ESG).

In light of the documentary and oral evidence it considered, the ENQA Review Panel was satisfied that AQU Catalunya is in compliance with the ESG and ENQA Membership Provisions to continue as a full member of the association from 2012 to 2017.

Compliance with the standards is evaluated according to four levels (not compliant, partially compliant, substantially compliant and fully compliant). Out of the sixteen standards analysed, the panel noted that the Agency is fully compliant with fourteen standards and substantially compliant with two, namely, 2.1 (The effectiveness of internal quality assurance processes for external quality assurance procedures) and 3.6 (Independence).

As pointed out in the external report, AQU Catalunya has made very great progress since the review of 2007, which covered compliance with eight standards, of which the Agency was considered to be fully compliant in two and substantially compliant in six. I can therefore confidently state that, although this last review was considerably more extensive than the previous one, it is because of the very substantial improvements made over the last five years that the outcome of this review is so positive. Moreover, the results show that the Catalan agency compares extremely well with other European QA agencies who have gone through the same process.

Several of the positive aspects contained in the external report are that AQU Catalunya is a dynamic agency, which takes every opportunity to improve its own work and enhance quality in higher education institutions; the Agency is described as being a learning organisation, with the capacity and the will to review its operations and improve them in the light of experience; the great efforts put by the Agency into building up strong relationships with stakeholders, which has created an atmosphere of trust with the universities; it also commends the high level of motivation among AQU staff and their constructive attitude towards the current budgetary restrictions, and the excellent use made of IT for internal and external use.

Internally speaking, I have to say that the result obtained has boosted our level of satisfaction on knowing that the work the Agency is doing is headed in the right direction and that our day-to-day endeavours to do things better have been rewarded.

One key aspect of all of this refers, of course, to the universities. The report clearly states that the processes undertaken are useful and provide for the enhancement of quality in higher education institutions in Catalonia. A positive evaluation is therefore also made of the work done by the universities themselves – including the rectors' offices, vice-rectors, faculties, departments, quality units, academic staff, administrative and services staff, etc. – in the quality assurance of university degree programmes and teaching.

The outcome of the review is also an international recognition of the work to enhance quality being carried out by Catalan universities and the Agency.

The process has not come to an end, however. The formal decision by ENQA, which will be made around mid-September, is still pending, together with the application for renewal of the Agency's listing with the EQAR register. Nevertheless, based on the outcome of the review these should be mere formalities, which will ensure that the Agency can continue to validate recognised programmes in Catalonia.

The work now in the in-tray is to analyse the recommendations for improvement made by the panel in prepartion for the next review anticipated in 2017. These deal with the reappraisal, and ensuring the viability, of the VSMA Framework for the validation, monitoring, modification and accreditation of recognised programmes and, concerning the quality assurance of teaching, the introduction of teaching as an aspect to be taken into account in evaluation processes.

To sum up, the outcome of the review is highly satisfactory, and our aim is to continue working with due rigour and determination so that by 2017 everything is fully in order so that we can continue to at least maintain the level so far achieved.

I'd like to express in this newsletter my gratitude for the trust placed in the Agency and to thank everybody who has collaborated with us in making this outcome possible.


Generalitat de Catalunya

Via Laietana, 28, 5a planta 08003 Barcelona. Spain. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2012 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008