Unibasq - Agency for Quality of the Basque University System

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Country: Spain
Name in English: Unibasq - Agency for Quality of the Basque University System
National name: Unibasq - Euskal Unibertsitate Sistemaren Kalitate Agentzia

Agency's position within the national higher education system

Description of the Agency:

The Agency for Quality of the Basque University System (Unibasq – Agencia de Calidad del Sistema Universitario Vasco) is a state owned body governed by private law attached to the Basque Government’s department responsible for universities.

The object of Unibasq is the evaluation, accreditation and certification of quality in the Basque University System, taking into consideration its Spanish, European and international dimensions.

The agency may also carry out evaluation, accreditation and certification activities at universities and higher education institutions outside the Basque Autonomous Community within the context of the European Higher Education Area, on the basis of prior agreements signed with other agencies, universities or educational authorities outside the Basque Autonomous Community.

The history of the agency:

The Agency was created under Article 79 of Law 3/2004 on the Basque University System and started its activities in 2006. Then and due to a process of changes in order to adapt its processes to the European Criteria and Directives for quality assurance agencies, the Basque Parliament passed the Act 13/2012 of 28 June 2012 governing Unibasq – the Agency for the Quality of the Basque University System which was published on 4 July 2012.


Other quality assurance agencies authorised to operate in the country

In Spain there are 17 autonomous regions, in 10 of them, including the Basque Country, there are quality assurance agencies authorised to operate in the specific autonomous region. When there is not a regional agency, ANECA, the state agency, is the one authorised to operate in that territory.

Legal framework

The following general regulations apply to the activity of the Agency:

  • Universities Organic Law 6/2001, 21 December, and its amendment (Law 4/2007, 12 April)
  • Law 3/2004, 25 February, of the Basque University System
  • Law 13/2012, 28 June, governing Unibasq
  • Decree 204/2013, 16 April, approving the Statutes of Unibasq – the Agency for the Quality of the Basque University System

Independence

The separation between the functions of governance and evaluation is meant to fulfil the principle of independence of the agency in its evaluation activities. Hence, the Governing Board, which includes representatives from universities and the Basque Government, is responsible for the strategic governance of the agency and for setting its objectives, while the Advisory Committee is responsible for planning and organising the evaluation activities and implementing the strategic decisions. The independence of Unibasq operations is based upon the operational independence of its Technical Bodies (the Advisory Board and the Evaluation Committees). Being a member of the scientific-technical bodies of the agency (whose members are mainly from outside of the Basque University System) is incompatible with the holding of a single-person managerial position at any institution that may be potentially evaluated. The outcome of each individual evaluation is the responsibility of the Evaluation Committee.

Funding

The agency has its own budget, which it administers independently in accordance with the corresponding regulations of the Basque Autonomous Community.

The general budget of the Basque Autonomous Community allocates to the agency the resources it needs to perform its functions in accordance with a multi-annual programme contract, without prejudice to any other income it may have at its disposal, including from its own activities.

Quality assurance procedures

Main procedures

  • Evaluation and accreditation of teaching and research staff.
  • Evaluation of study programmes at universities.
    • Ex ante accreditation
    • Follow-up
    • Renewal of accreditation
  • Institutional evaluation and certification.

Consequences of quality assurance and accreditation decisions

In order to be authorised by the Basque Government and to be included in the register of officially recognised study programmes, study programmes need to have a positive review report. Study programmes modifications must receive a positive external review report to be implemented. During the follow-up, recommendations are made in order to facilitate the accreditation of the programme. Periodically, official study programmes have to pass an external review to renew their accreditation and continue in the register of the officially recognised study programmes.

Validity of the decisions

Accreditations for bachelor and PhD programmes are valid for 6 years and accreditations for master programmes for 4 years.

In institutional evaluation the certifications are valid for 5 years.

Publication policy

The results of evaluation, accreditation and certification procedures are made public within the scope of regulations governing data protection.

Appeal System

In order to further improve its appeals procedure, Unibasq is analysing the possibility of creating a commission to deal with appeals.

In the case of study programmes and higher education institution evaluations, the Evaluation Committee issues a preliminary report which is communicated to the interested party. Then a period for the submission of claims is opened. Finally the report is reviewed taking into account the submitted claims, and a final report is issued.

In the case of the academic staff evaluation, where a formal resolution is issued, the appeals procedure follows the state regulation established for administrative procedures (30/1992 Act on Administrative Procedure). In addition, there is an option to appeal before the Courts in accordance with Act 29/1998 on Contentious-Administrative Jurisdiction.

Figures on Quality Assurance / Accreditation Procedures

Since 2006, Unibasq has reviewed, before being implemented, around 375 study programmes. In 2010 the study programmes follow-up started and 143 reports have been issued. Since 2014, the renewal of accreditation procedure started and 163 study programmes have been reviewed.

Regarding institutional evaluation, since 2013 the implementation of Internal Quality Assurance Systems of 9 university faculties have been certified.

International activities

Member of international quality assurance networks/organisations

ECA, ENQA, INQAAHE

External reviews, compliance with ESG

  • 2014

Unibasq is listed on the European Quality Assurance Register since 29 November 2014.

Accreditation procedures in another jurisdiction

According to the new status in 2015, this is a new strategic objective, but so far in progress.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

So far Unibasq is not competent to do that.

Agreements concerning mutual recognition of accreditation

According to the new status in 2015, this is a new strategic objective, but so far in progress.