The Framework for the Verification, Monitoring, Modification and Accreditation of Official Degrees (VSMA in Catalan and Spanish) connects these quality assessment processes, which take place throughout the lives of the programmes, with the aims of establishing coherent links between them and promoting greater efficiency in their management.
For more information about the VSMA Framework, just click on the following AQU web page:
Verification (ex-ante assessment)
New degrees are promoted by the governing bodies of the URV's faculties and schools, in accordance with the URV's Map of Degrees and the needs of society.
The implementation of new degrees requires the approval of the URV's academic programming proposal, the authorisation of the General Directorate of Universities and a favourable verification of the degree report proposal. Verification is the process by which the degree report proposal is submitted for evaluation by the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency.
Once the degree has been approved internally, and validation is received from the DGU and AQU Catalunya, the Council of Ministers establishes the official nature of the degree and registers it in the Register of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT in Spanish).
For each degree, an annual report must be produced to monitor and reflect the degree's development.
Monitoring has two main objectives:
- To be a useful tool for the university management that enables them to evaluate the development of the URV's degrees through the analysis of data and indicators, and the creation, if necessary, of improvement proposals to correct the deviations detected between the original design of the degree and the actual manner in which it is delivered.
- To provide the basis for accreditation, in the sense that the accreditation is the culmination of the monitoring process. The idea is to understand these two processes as one: a process of continuous improvement that culminates in the external validation of the results achieved.
Changes made to degrees are the result of the process of reflection and analysis that comes from monitoring. Changes can be classified in one of the two following ways:
- Non-substantial modifications: Minor changes that improve the degree and that the University can implement as the result of the monitoring process. These changes are included in the monitoring report and incorporated into the degree report when the degree has to undergo a modification process.
- Substantial modifications: Changes in the verified degree that lead to alterations to its structure or to its nature and objectives. These can be subdivided into two further types:
- Allowable modifications: Changes that affect the structure of the degree but do not entail a change in its nature and objectives. These changes are requested through the modification process.
- Non-allowable modifications: Substantial changes that affect the nature and objectives of the verified degree and that cannot be requested through the modification process. These changes can only be made effective by requesting verification of a new degree and terminating the existing degree.
Accreditation (ex-post assessment)
Accreditation of degrees is done by AQU Catalunya 6 years after their verification, in the case of Bachelor's and Doctoral Degrees, and 4 years in the case of Master's Degrees. Accreditation is obtained by submitting of a self-evaluation report and being inspected by an external Committee that issues a final report. If the accreditation is favourable, the degree may continue. Otherwise, the degree will have to enter a period of termination.
The process of accreditation has as its objectives:
- To ensure the quality of the training programmes, in accordance with the established levels of qualification and the criteria of the regulations in force.
- To guarantee valid and reliable information that helps the users of the university system to make decisions.
- To facilitate internal quality improvement processes for the programmes and services delivered by the universities.
- To integrate the verification process derived from the proposal of substantial modifications.