In accordance with the prevailing legal framework, registered degrees must be monitored by a quality assurance agency, using the available public information, until such time they are reviewed for the purposes of accreditation renewal (Royal Decree 822/2021, article 28).
Monitoring by AQU Catalunya forms part of the Framework for the validation, monitoring, modification and accreditation of recognised study programmes (VSMA Framework)
Monitoring has a twofold objective:
- It serves as a useful tool for university management and the quality assurance of programme delivery through the analysis of data and indicators, together with the drawing up and implementation, where applicable, of corrective measures for any variance between the design of courses and their normal delivery;
- It is a process of inquiry that forms the basis of accreditation, inasmuch as accreditation is the culmination of the monitoring procedure. The idea is for these two processes to be understood as one: a process of continuous enhancement that culminates in the external validation of the results and outcomes achieved.
As with accreditation, it is the educational unit (faculty, school or institute) in the university that serves as the unit of reference for review. According to this model, monitoring (progress) reports combine the unit’s core dimensions and aspects together with dimensions that are specific to each degree programme.
Monitoring reports and self-assessment reports for accreditation are the same as regards structure and the dimensions being reviewed. Each higher education unit will therefore only carry out one activity connected with quality assurance, i.e. monitoring, with accreditation once every four to six years, according to the type of programmes that are run. The unit’s last monitoring report prior to accreditation is therefore the self-assessment report, which must include a summary detailing programme delivery since validation or prior accreditation.
Each educational unit (faculty, school or institute) must submit a monitoring report on the programmes being run in the unit once every three years. Presentation of these reports to AQU Catalunya is only compulsory for educational units offering degree courses that, as of accreditation, are pending certain conditions/prescriptions being fulfilled. In such cases, the unit will need to submit the monitoring report three years after the external visit.
All monitoring reports produced by the unit will form part of the evidence that must be provided by the institution at the time of accreditation.
Each university produces an all-encompassing university monitoring report to be used in the assessment of monitoring as a whole in the institution, problems detected in programme delivery and academic outcomes, enhancement measures and corrective actions that have been proposed and/or implemented, and the identification of good practices that can be disseminated in the institution as a whole. This report is free-form, and presentation to AQU Catalunya is voluntary.
Programme monitoring reports that must be submitted by universities, which in the process of accreditation relate to courses pending the fulfilment of certain conditions/prescriptions, are reviewed on an annual basis by AQU. In the case of monitoring reports on doctoral/PhD programmes and other degrees for which the presentation of a report is not compulsory, the selection of reports for review and assessment by the Agency is carried out on a sample basis.
The deadlines for submitting monitoring reports are established every year jointly by AQU and the universities. The subject-specific committees that come under the Institutional and Programme Review Commission (CAIP) are responsible for the review and evaluation.
AQU has reviewed the monitoring of over 400 Bachelor and Master’s degree courses at universities in Catalonia since 2011.