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State of quality assessment in Spanish universities

Publication date: 24/11/2016

portada informe calidad universidades

ANECA publishes yearly the Report on the state of the external assessment of quality in Spanish universities . The objective of this periodic analysis is to inform the Ministry responsible for University issues and the different social agents about the development of evaluation, certification and accreditation processes in Spain within the field of university education.

With this report, the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) perseveres in its commitment as an autonomous observatory of the quality of the Spanish University System, while at the same time dealing with the compliance of the new Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area by publishing periodical reports which describe and analyse the main conclusions regarding their activities for the external quality assurance.

The nature of this report goes beyond a mere statement of activities, since it is intended to provide an analysis of data regarding the development of the evaluation, certification and accreditation processes in Spain and of issues directly linked to the quality of higher education. The final objective is to deliver a reflection which will contribute to decision-making concerning the main actions needed to improve this sphere within the Spanish University System, with an approach which is particularly aimed at serving the interests of students and society.
The quality assurance has taken on a prominent role in building confidence around the actions carried out by universities in the different countries of the EHEA, within the European and international context. Another factor which has contributed to creating this trust has been appropriate accountability to society and establishing internal review mechanisms towards ongoing improvement at universities and, in the same vein, of quality assurance agencies.

The meeting of ministers in charge of Higher Education in the EHEA, held in May 2015 in Yerevan, has reinforced the commitment to those quality assurance principles within the common European framework. In this sense, a new version of Standards and Guidelines was approved, substituting, after ten years, the previous one which had constituted the main benchmark regarding quality assurance for universities and university quality agencies.

Given this context, the 2015 report carried out by the National Agency, which has included  the participation of all the university quality agencies from the different Spanish regional governments as well as Student representatives and Stakeholders councils, provides an analysis on the state of the main external assessment processes for the assurance of quality in Spain. In order to present it, the contents have been divided into three areas concerning the different objectives, often interconnected.

The first chapter:

Analyses the improvement of quality in university higher education institutions and faculties. In this sense, the chapter deals with the Internal Quality Assurance Systems implemented in centres and institutions and, in connection with these systems, the procedures for the review and improvement of teaching quality. Likewise, and associated with the previous procedures of institutional recognition, the “Institutional Accreditation” is included as a process with important implications and connection  with existing evaluation procedures of universities and centres.

The second chapter:

Analyses the processes implemented for the improvement of the quality of official university degrees framed within the EHEA and their results. Moreover, attention is paid to the future coexistence of degree and institutional accreditation and its potential implications. This chapter also focuses on the evaluation actions aimed at the awarding of the European quality label to university bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in recognition of their professional orientation in certain spheres. Finally, the chapter ends with the analysis of the important process carried out to establish the correspondence between education in the Spanish Catalogue of Official University Degrees prior to the EHEA and the level of studies established in the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education and, by extension, in the European Qualifications Framework.

The third chapter:

Analyses the outcomes of the evaluation processes of the Teaching and Research Academic Staff (PDI) in the universities, both in the cases of recognition of the PDI activity in the exercise of its duties within the universities and those aimed at accreditation of candidates for accessing vacancies as non-civil servant PDI or civil servants. In this last case, it has been deemed appropriate to examine the new regulatory framework for the accreditation of candidates interested in becoming a member of academic staff bodies.