1. The Spanish University System The Spanish University System maintains a dual organisation based on both public and private institutions.

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1 1. The Spanish University System The Spanish University System maintains a dual organisation based on both public and private institutions. The figures of this organisation are as follows: 74 universities 52 public 22 private Total number of students enrolled: 1, students 1, in public institutions in private institutions By areas of knowledge: Humanities: 9.42% Social and legal sciences: 48.67% Experimental sciences: 7.59% Health sciences: 7.75% Engineering, Architecture and other Technical studies: 26.57% The Spanish University System is strongly decentralised from the point of view of the competences, which have been mainly assumed by the regional governments (comunidades autónomas). The Ministry of Education and Science has competences concerning the legal framework of higher educaton and is also leading the adaptation of the structure of the traditional degrees to the Bologna Declaration model focusing on a three cycles structure: Bachelor ( credits), Master ( credits) and Doctorate oriented towards the completion of the Ph.D. The regional governments finance the public universities and play an essential role 2. The National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) ANECA is the Spanish acronym for National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education of Spain. ANECA is an independent body that acts as an advisory and technical body either at the request of the institutions of higher education and regional administrations with competences in higher education or according to the legal mandate of the Spanish Ministry of Education. ANECA develops the current programmes related to the evaluation of programmes, the official designation of the official quality label of doctoral programmes or the definition of the accreditation model for bachelor programmes for the new degrees derived from the adaptation of the Spanish university system to the Bologna Process structure. This model has to be approved by the Ministry of Education before its application to the institutions of higher education. ANECA is organised as a public foundation officially funded through the State Budget Act which is annually passed by the Spanish Parliament. Its directive bodies are twofold: the Board of Trustees chaired by the Ministry of Education which appoints the Director of ANECA and the Board of Directors steered by the Director and consisted in four other directors in charge of the different programmes conducted by ANECA. 1

2 The Director acts independently from the Board of Trustees, but (s)he has the commitment to submit a report including the activities accomplished throughout the year and the objectives for the next one. The staff of ANECA consists in around fifty employees with technical expertise and profiles hired according to private contracts who are not civil servants. Nevertheless, the Board of Directors as well as the evaluators and experts of the evaluation teams for the different programmes conducted by ANECA belong to the academic staff of the Spanish universities. Furthermore, ANECA has developed an Advisory Board (Consejo Asesor) made up from 16 members whose main function deals with the analysis of the actions, methodology and tools implemented by ANECA according to the international standards. The Advisory Board acts also as an external body in term of methodology and good practices in order to assure the independence of action and criteria accomplished by ANECA in the fulfilment of the programmes, activities and services included in its mission. The Advisory Board is made up from international experts on higher education governance, finance, quality assurance, accreditation, as well as stakeholders coming from several sectors of society. The international experts include representatives from Europe and Latin America. According to its Mission explicitly and publicly stated amongst the institutions of higher education, public administrations and stakeholders, ANECA wants to contribute to the quality improvement of the higher education system through its main technical programmes, that is, assessment, certification and accreditation of studies, programmes, teaching staff and institutions, either at the request of HE institutions or the requirement of both national or regional public administrations. ANECA s Strategic Plan has been designed as an essential tool to act both efficiently and coherently within its scope of competence concerning the higher education system. 3. The origins of ANECA ANECA was created by means of the Spanish University Act passed in This legal framework provides ANECA with the highest level of legal support within the national level concerning quality assurance and accreditation of higher education issues. Within this legal context, ANECA assumed from the very beginning the responsibilities and the work accomplished by the former Consejo de Coordinación Universitaria (University Co-ordination Council). It is an official body associated to the Spanish Ministry of Education where representatives from the Ministry of Education, Rector s Conference, Regional Governments, members of the Parliament and Senate meet. Since the mid nineties, this body launched the first and second Evaluation Plan for the Spanish Universities, which implied the first co-ordinated attempt to accomplish a thorough programme evaluation of the Spanish higher education institutions, according to the existing legal framework. Since mid-2002, after the constitution of ANECA, the former evaluation plan, as well as the rest of the initiatives conducted by any either ministerial or official departments accomplished to the date. 4. The mission and objectives of ANECA The strategic objectives of ANECA, according to the Strategic Plan of the agency are as follows: To implement the accreditation of programmes leading to official degrees (graduate and postgraduate) and offer a catalogue of programmes and services focussed on the mission 2

3 To become the main source of information on quality assurance issues of the higher education system at the national level and before society To generate trust and credibility amongst stakeholders To consolidate the organisation 4. The vision of ANECA The vision of the agency is to be recognised as a national and international reference for quality assurance and accreditation of the higher education system, generating credibility and trust due to its useful, transparent, efficient and agile procedures and methodologies. 5. The programmes leaded by ANECA in the framework of quality assurance ANECA contributes to the university quality improvement through the development of its different programmes oriented to the Spanish institutions of higher education by means of three main programmes: 1. Evaluation: Evaluation of higher education programmes leading to official degrees, under voluntary basis; evaluation of academic candidates to being hired by the universities as teaching staff, which is mandatory to be contracted by universities; evaluation of services provided by the universities: library service, plan for training the academic staff in teaching activities, evaluation of the international relations services of the universities, under voluntary basis. 2. Accreditation: Process of evaluation of studies leading to the obtainment of the official Degrees which are valid throughout Spain in order to fulfil the criteria and quality standards previously established for each type of degree. The methodology of the evaluation for accreditation is as follows: a. Self-assessment b. External Assessment c. Draft report on Accreditation d. Final report by the Ministry of Education and Science leading to the acceptance (and therefore maintenance of the programme), temporary cancellation of the programme until amendment of the problems found and the fulfilment of the enhancement measures, or the definite cancellation According to the model, the ultimate decision on accreditation is made by the Ministry of Education which is also the body in charge of assume the appeals t the decisions made by the agency. 3. Certification: It implies two main programmes oriented to the award of quality labels for doctoral programmes and university libraries. In the case of the Quality Label for doctoral programmes, the Ministry of Education gives ANECA first the evaluation of the applications from the universities sent to the call for proposals of the Ministry. Those programmes awarded, receive a financial grant from the Ministry and several benefits for mobility of students and academic staff. The following year, the programme has to pass an audit designed also by ANECA focused on the maintenance of the conditions previously evaluated by which the programme received the grant before receiving the grant. The third year the programme receives automatically the award. 3

4 6. Trend of ANECA in the near future The lessons probably are currently being learned since we are working in a extremely dynamic and changing environment concerning higher education at the national, European and global level. Therefore, ANECA needs very active mechanisms to response new challenges and request from both society and stakeholders. Concerning the trends for the future, ANECA has to cope with the likely trends of higher education in the national and international realms which could be summarised as follows: Development of the European Higher Education Area Globalisation and mobility of students, academic and research staff of the universities Improving transparency and accountability to society Flexibility of teaching plans Improving co-ordination amongst agencies Facing and assuming the changes introduced to the Spanish University Act (LOU) in the immediate future One of the first challenges for ANECA in the immediate future is the challenge derived from the increasing internationalisation of quality assurance and accreditation of higher education worldwide. The first and nearest focus must be obviously put on the European theatre and the building of the European Higher Education Area. Within this setting, ANECA is deeply involved in co-ordinating activities along with the main associations and network organisations working in the field: the European Association for Quality Assurance of Higher Education (ENQA) and the European Consortium for Accreditation (ECA). The director of ANECA is member of the executive boards of both organisations. Concerning the methodological issues and its application into the daily practice of the agencies and in the higher university system as a whole, ANECA is working within the framework supplied by ENQA through the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance of Higher Education since its presentation in the Ministers Conference of Bergen in May 2005, as a reference document for the external review for Quality Assurance Agencies in the European context. Furthermore, and within the project represented by the European Consortium for Accreditation, ANECA assumes the Code of Good Practice developed by this organisation that has in the mutual recognition of the accreditation decisions its main objective for The European setting is not the only working landscape of ANECA. Latin America is also a main priority for ANECA concerning quality assurance and accreditation of higher education and the Ibero-American Network of Accreditation Agencies (RIACES) is the tool to enhance the co-operation with Latin American fellow-agencies towards the future mutual recognition scenario. ANECA acts as vice-president of this network and play an active role in the working group derived from it. This work includes also the making of a Glossary of quality assurance and accreditation of higher education to find a shared basis from the terminology viewpoint amongst the agencies from very different higher education systems of the two regions. Finally, as an important element, ANECA has requested to ENQA to be evaluated by an external committee according to the Standards and Guidelines during the first semester of 2007, as an example that ANECA assumes the responsibility to submit 4

5 itself to an evaluation by an external body before the national and international context. 5

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