Quality labels and certificates
AQU Catalunya is a key instrument for university policy in Catalonia as its mission is to strengthen and assure the Catalan university model and its international recognition, as well as ensure and improve its quality.
At the same time, the European Union faces the strategic challenge of improving the quality of higher education and learning and aligning them with the needs of society and the labour market. Among the instruments available to meet these challenges are external quality assurance agencies such as AQU Catalunya.
The fact that AQU Catalunya is included in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) allows the programme reviews it carries out in Catalonia and other countries to be recognised by international authorities, thereby facilitating mobility and academic cooperation for Catalan universities, as set out in Europe's strategic objectives.
AQU Catalunya is committed to making society aware of the results of its institutional and programme reviews, as it does through the EUC and EUC Reports websites, and the quality labels offer an easy way to identify programmes and institutions that have successfully undergone external review by the Agency.
On 8 July 2014, AQU Catalunya's Executive Board approved the creation of the Agency's quality labels. Since then, these labels have been adapted to arising needs.
At the 20 April 2022 meeting of the AQU Catalunya Governing Board, a more relevant update was proposed: to bring the quality labels into line with AQU Catalunya's new corporate image.
In order to provide the university system in Catalonia with a element of distinction to position itself both nationally and internationally, the AQU Governing Board, in its meeting on 20 April 2022, approved the establishment of the following quality labels:
Programme ex-ante accreditation
Additional dimensions in accreditation
Short learning programmes (micro-credentials)
Certification of the Internal Quality Assurance System (IQAS)
Institutional accredited centre
Quality assurance of research at department level
Accreditation of an International Educational Facility for Cooperation and Academic Mobility
The quality labels include a registration number and come with the corresponding certificate.2
Programmes and institutions that receive an unfavourable report following review by AQU Catalunya will not be associated with a quality label, even if they have been validated (ex-ante accreditation) or accredited by the Spanish Universities Council. In such cases, AQU Catalunya will post the unfavourable report on the EUC Reports website and display the following text on the EUC website: "Validation (ex-ante accreditation) issued by the Spanish Universities Council" or "Accreditation issued by the Spanish Universities Council", in order to set them apart from those that do receive a favourable report from AQU Catalunya.
How to acquire a quality label
A quality label is acquired by successfully undergoing the corresponding evaluation process coordinated by AQU Catalunya. The Agency awards a certificate that states that the study programme or faculty has successfully undergone review and can make use of the quality label.
Quality labels and certificates are non-transferable to any programme or institution other than the programme or institution that has successfully undergone review by AQU Catalunya, nor can they be extended or transferred to cover units or fields of study outside the scope of the review.
Quality labels may not be used when:
- The review process is in progress, unless it is an accreditation renewal process3.
- The outcome of the review process is unfavourable.
- For programmes, there has been a substantial modification that calls for a new ex-ante accreditation.
- Accreditation and/or certification has/have been either temporarily or definitively withdrawn.
- The validity period has expired.
- The programme has been phased out.
- It is used for something other than its intended purpose.
In no case shall having a quality label discharge a programme or institution that has successfully undergone review from the corresponding guarantees and responsibilities, as per current legislation, regardless of the type of label. AQU Catalunya shall not be responsible for non-compliance with legislation affecting quality labels.
Period of validity
Use of quality labels and certificates is allowed during the validity period, as stipulated in the corresponding review guide. When a quality label has not been renewed or has been withdrawn on justified grounds, it may no longer be used. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the university or institution to remove the label immediately from wherever it may have been applied.
It is also the responsibility of the university or institution to take appropriate action to maintain the conditions for keeping a quality label or certificate valid.
Quality labels are the property of AQU Catalunya and are registered at both national and European level. They are therefore legally protected by legislation relating to trade marks.
Those responsible for programmes and institutions having successfully undergone review may use a quality label awarded by AQU Catalunya for distinction or other purposes, such as promotion.
As regards usage, the quality label should appear on the programme's or institution's website with a link to the corresponding EUC web page. If it is not yet available on the EUC website, a link must be added to the EUC Reports website, where the review report that shows eligibility to use the label is posted.
The application of a quality label must be clear and honest and should avoid the risk of any confusion.
Quality labels may be used in graphic or audiovisual materials that promote a favourably reviewed programme or institution.
The labels must be reproduced according to the specified size, colours, typography and shapes, and the content must be legible. Adaptations or versions of the labels are not permitted, nor may they be applied ambiguously. Where they are used alongside other distinctions, they must be positioned in such a way that they are clearly visible.
If a quality label is to be used together with the AQU Catalunya logo, the guidelines given in the AQU Catalunya Visual Guide must be followed.
Communication media and platforms
Provided they are used in a way that is consistent with the scope of the corresponding evaluation and review, quality labels may be used in:
- Reports, posters, brochures and pamphlets, presentations, correspondence
- Corporate advertising, websites, e-mails, social networks
- Signs, flags, corporate banners
- Exhibitions and other dissemination materials
It is the duty of AQU Catalunya to ensure that quality labels are used correctly. If it learns of any improper use4, it will begin informative proceedings, which will be referred to the corresponding programme coordinator or institutional authority for any supporting arguments or representations to be submitted (either in person or in writing).
The outcome of the hearing process may lead to a written warning saying that the conditions for use of the quality label must be respected. In more serious cases or where a warning goes unheeded, AQU Catalunya will initiate the corresponding legal proceedings and, where applicable, inform other bodies, institutions and, where appropriate, the media of the facts.
1 Report on Progress in Quality Assurance in Higher Education (Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions), 28 January 2014).
2 This is only applicable subsequent to a first renewal of accreditation (reaccreditation).
3 Improper use refers to non-compliance with the terms and conditions laid down here, together with any others that may alter the meaning and/or value of the quality label and/or negatively affect the reputation of AQU Catalunya.
4 Improper use refers to non-compliance with the terms and conditions laid down here, together with any other uses that may alter the meaning and value of the quality label or negatively affect the reputation of AQU Catalunya.