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Spain:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

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Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

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Spain:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

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Spain:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

Spain:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Higher Education

Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Spain:First Cycle Programmes

Spain:Bachelor

Spain:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Spain:Second Cycle Programmes

Spain:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Spain:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Spain:Adult Education and Training

Spain:Distribution of Responsibilities

Spain:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Spain:Main Providers

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Spain:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Spain:Teachers and Education Staff

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Management and Other Education Staff

Spain:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Spain:Management Staff for Higher Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Quality Assurance

Spain:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Educational Support and Guidance

Spain:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Spain:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Spain:Mobility and Internationalisation

Spain:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Mobility in Higher Education

Spain:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Spain:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Spain:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:National Reforms in School Education

Spain:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Spain:National Reforms in Higher Education

Spain:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Spain:European Perspective

Spain:Legislation

Spain:Institutions

Spain:Bibliography

Spain:Glossary

Higher education in the Spanish education system comprises university education and non-university education, including advanced vocational training and advanced artistic education.

In the case of non-university higher education, quality assurance has the same characteristics as in the rest of non-university educational levels. For more information, see Quality assurance in early childhood and school education.

Advanced vocational training

Spanish Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Training

It is taking shape, since 2007, in line with the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training. It is a reference tool to supervise and contribute to the constant improvement of the quality of this type of provision, basically defined by common instruments, descriptors and quality indicators developed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities and the most representative social agents.

Vocational Training Quality Network

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, together with the education authorities, has established its structure and organisation:

  • so that vocational training becomes a quality reference
  • to strengthen the culture of improvement and quality assurance and innovation
  • to propose strategies and coordinate planning, development and evaluation actions and measures in order to improve the quality of education and services, and develop procedures for the monitoring and evaluation of the continuous improvement of vocational training.

For more information, see todoFP.es: Calidad en FP.

Awards for Quality in Vocational Guidance and Training

In August 2011, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport announced these Awards for the first time. In view of the good results achieved, a second edition was announced in March 2014 and a third one in August 2015.

Objective of the Awards:

  • acknowledge the work and effort of teachers, teams of teachers and students, educational institutions and companies who are engaged in the search for innovative and quality educational and professional responses
  • encourage the improvement of vocational guidance in educational institutions, so that, thanks to quality information and guidance, school success is guaranteed, equity is promoted, greater social cohesion is achieved and access to training opportunities are increased.

The nominations for the Awards are promoted by educational institutions and correspond to projects, works and experiences carried out by teachers, individually or in collaboration with the educational institution, teams of teachers, or teams of teachers and students.

Types of Awards:

  • Awards for Quality and Innovation in Vocational Training of the Education System: they are promoted by Spanish publicly-funded educational institutions providing vocational training of the education system and/or Initial Vocational Qualification Programmes
  • Awards for Quality and Innovation in Vocational Guidance of the Education System: they are promoted by secondary schools, specific vocational training institutions, adult education institutions and integrated vocational training institutions, provided those nominations correspond to the work carried out by counsellors or teams belonging to the Counselling Departments.

The call plans to disseminate the work of the award winners, so that it serves as a model or reference for other educational communities and fosters the overall improvement of the education system. For more information, see todoFP.es: Premios a la Calidad e Innovacion en Orientación y Formación Profesional 2015.

National and international vocational training competitions

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities and the Cities of Ceuta and Melilla, promotes, encourages and organises the national competition Spainskills and the participation of Spain in the international competitions Worldskills Internacional and Worldskills Europe.

University education

Quality assurance has specific features due to the autonomy granted to Spanish universities and the fact that education authorities, both regional and national, are held accountable.

In this regard, various initiatives and programmes have been implemented in order to improve evaluation and the quality of the university system.

Act on Universities (2001)

It establishes that quality promotion and assurance of Spanish universities, both at the national and international levels, is an essential aim of university policy. This evaluation has the following objectives:

  • measure the performance of public university education and accountability towards society
  • the transparency, comparison, cooperation and competitiveness of universities at the national and international levels
  • improve teaching and research practice, as well as university management
  • inform public authorities for decision-making within the scope of their powers
  • inform society in order to promote excellence and student and teacher mobility.

These objectives must be achieved by establishing certain common criteria for quality assurance, which facilitate the evaluation, certification and accreditation of:

  • studies leading to the award of official certificates which are valid throughout the country
  • studies leading to the award of diplomas and certificates designed by universities and other higher education institutions
  • activities, programmes, services and management of higher education institutions
  • teaching, research and management activities of university teachers
  • other activities and programmes that may be carried out as a consequence of teaching and research quality promotion by public authorities.

National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA)

It is set up in 2002 as an external evaluation mechanism that, independently, reinforces the quality, transparency, cooperation and competitiveness of universities. This Agency evaluates provision, research, teaching and management activity, as well as university services and programmes, and carries out its activities in accordance with the principles of technical and scientific competence, legality and legal certainty, independence and transparency, on the basis of the usual operation criteria of this type of institutions at the international level.

The Act Modifying the Act on Universities (2007) attaches great importance to the role played by the ANECA as the agency in charge of the evaluation, certification and accreditation processes. Its main task is to coordinate and stimulate quality management policies in Spanish universities, acting as mediator to reconcile the principle of autonomy of public universities with the accountability of university institutions. In addition, it defines university evaluation criteria, following approval from the General Assembly for University Policy.

Proposal for the Reform and Improvement of the Quality and Efficiency of the Spanish University System

In order to contribute to modernising university higher education, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport set up in 2012 a Commission of Experts for the reform of the Spanish university system, whose objectives were to: 

  • implement systems for the external evaluation of the teaching and research activity
  • promote quality research. 
  • encourage the specialisation of universities in different areas of knowledge. 
  • rationalise the degrees offered through the establishment of an efficiency standard, taking into account the number of students 
  • promote private investment
  • overcome the deficit in the transfer of knowledge and technology to the productive sector
  • encourage internationalisation and increasing participation of universities in the globalised knowledge society.

In 2013, the document 'Proposals for the Reform and Improvement of the Quality and Efficiency of the Spanish University System', presenting the findings of this working group, was handed over to the Minister by this Commission. There are five main points in the document:

  • selection of teaching and research staff
  • quality assurance
  • university governance
  • university funding
  • university studies and degrees.

This report has been considered as the starting point for a dialogue process with all the key players involved in university life on the measures to be adopted in order to progressively modernise, internationalise and improve the quality of universities.

Responsible bodies

National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA)

Some of its most important functions are:

  • promote the improvement of the teaching, research and management activities of universities
  • contribute to the measurement of higher education performance according to objective procedures and transparent processes
  • provide public authorities with suitable information for decision-making
  • inform society about the achievement of goals in university activities.

In 2003, the Agency became a member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA); in 2008, it joined the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR); and, in 2010, it became the first European agency adhering to the Guidelines of Good Practice of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE).

In 2013, the ANECA drew up the 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, a reference document for the establishment of medium-term objectives that will serve as a framework for the annual operational plans and the development of the Agency’s projects in the future.

The strategic and specific goals of this new Plan are:

Strategic goals
Specific goals

contribute to the improvement and enhancement of the university system in Spain through the development and application of quality assurance and the accreditation of university programmes and teaching, by bringing added value to both processes and results

  • carry out the quality assurance and accreditation of study programmes in compliance with prevailing legislation and the standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), providing useful and relevant input for the continuous improvement of higher education institutions
  • carry out the different teacher assessment programmes according to rigorous academic standards and transparency as an essential part of the quality of the system of higher education in Spain
  • develop quality assurance and accreditation programmes together with the involvement of all higher education stakeholders in their design and implementation
  • provide quality assurance programmes with the necessary resources for the quality assurance of end results and outcomes. 

promote and contribute to the quality enhancement of higher education, fundamentally within the university system, through the setting in motion and implementation of programmes that place the Agency in the position of being a leader both in Spain and internationally

  • maintain the fulfilment of the essential requirements to continue being member of organisations and international networks, and preserving the international prestige reached by the Agency all along these years
  • provide leadership in policies of quality management in higher education in Spain through the design and implementation of programmes that lead to quality enhancement in the university system
  • coordinate and promote quality assurance initiatives that help the Agency to maintain its position not just as a model in good practices, but also establish it as a quality assurance pioneer in higher education
  • provide the Agency with the necessary instruments so that it generates trust and credibility within the EHEA, and by establishing and maintaining a clear and transparent relationship with all of the stakeholders.

provide useful, transparent and reliable information to the different stakeholders in both Spain and abroad

  • provide relevant information on the system of higher education that is easily accessible according to the profile of each different stakeholder
  • define an internal communication plan aimed at managing the Agency’s know-how so as to provide all departments and sections with useful, across-the-board information
  • produce reports either independently or in conjunction with other bodies that are active in the university system, based on the analysis of the results and outcomes of quality assurance processes in the system. 
increase efficiency in resource management for the optimal running of the Agency
  • design and implement an internal quality management system that improves process efficacy and efficiency, and that provides information for decision-making in the form of data and indicators
  • pursue a human resource policy that allows for the maximum development of the Agency’s staff in their jobs
  • ensure transparent financial management that works within established budgets, where the main objective is austerity measures in spending, and that allows for the Agency to be managed as efficiently as possible
  • develop the instruments and provide the Agency with the necessary technological resources to ensure it can carry out its functions in an efficient, convenient and economical way. 

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the 2013-2016 Strategic Plan of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation.

In its Action Plan for 2015, the objective of the Agency is to contribute to the strengthening of the quality of the Spanish university system, in the current circumstances of crisis, in accordance with its powers and responsibilities, as well as to respond to the expectations the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, universities and society as a whole have placed in this body the law gives an important role in the process of university transparency and accountability.

The correspondence between the activities to be developed by the Agency and its strategic objectives is the following:

Activity
Strategic objectives
evaluation of studies and institutions
  • contribute to the improvement of the Spanish university system, by developing and implementing evaluation procedures, as well as those leading to the accreditation of university studies and teachers, providing added value, in both the process and the result
  • promote and contribute to the improvement of the quality of higher education, mainly in the university system, through the launch and implementation of programmes that help position the Agency as a national and international referent
  • provide the different interest groups with useful, transparent and reliable information, both at the national and international level
  • increase efficiency in the management of the resources that will guarantee optimum operation of the Agency.
evaluation of teachers
international institutional relations and communication
evaluation of quality
resources which are not attributable directly to the activities

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the Action Plan for 2015 of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation.

Agencies of the Autonomous Communities responsible for the evaluation of university education

Together with the ANECA, they contribute to the improvement of quality through the coordination and development of the evaluation, certification and accreditation of university studies, teachers and institutions. For that purpose, they provide university institutions with evaluation tools, although institutions themselves are in charge of drawing up and carrying out their own evaluation plans.

General Assembly for University Policy

It is the body for consultation, coordination and cooperation of the general university policy of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

Without detriment to the powers conferred on the university coordination bodies of the Autonomous Communities, it has the following functions:

  • establish and assess the general guidelines of university policy, its organisation in the EHEA and its interrelationship with scientific and technological research policies
  • draw up, inform, consult and advise on the general organisation and long-term programme of university education, which covers the necessary human, material and financial resources for the public university services
  • approve coordination criteria regarding evaluation, certification and accreditation activities, aimed at promoting and guaranteeing the quality and efficiency of universities
  • suggest and assess measures in order to promote collaboration between universities and companies
  • coordinate the drawing up and monitoring of reports on the application of the principle of gender equality at university.

Every two years, the Assembly draws up a report on the situation of the university system and its funding, putting forward proposals to improve its quality and efficiency with the aim of ensuring financial sufficiency and the right to education in conditions of equality.

It is comprised of five members appointed by its President, apart from those in charge of university education in the Governing Councils of the Autonomous Communities.

Social Council in each university

This body, by which society participates in university life, supervises universities’ financial activities and the performance of their services. It approves an annual action plan with the aim of promoting relations between universities and their cultural, professional, economic and social environment at the service of the financing and quality of university activity.

In order to develop its functions, it is informed and advised by the ANECA and the evaluation bodies of the Autonomous Communities.

Services Inspection in each university

It is in charge of ensuring that all university institutions, departments, services and units operate correctly, structurally, functionally and administratively, as well as monitoring and controlling university activity.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

  • National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA): it coordinates and promotes the evaluation of the different aspects of the university system: studies, institutions and teachers
  • education authorities through their evaluation agencies: they ensure compliance with basic quality standards in the design and implementation of studies, as well as among those taking part in a hiring process or a process to enter the civil service
  • universities: they submit an annual report of their teaching and research activities to the Autonomous Community they depend on as well as to the General Assembly for University Policy
    • they conduct an internal assessment of their activities, the work done by their teachers and the results of their students within their institutional improvement plans
    • their Services Inspection verifies compliance with institutional responsibilities, as well as the organisation of teaching and non-teaching staff, and is in charge of opening information and disciplinary proceedings and processing applications for reports and procedures to monitor and evaluate the performance of the teaching staff.

The different evaluation, certification and accreditation programmes through which the ANECA carries out its activity are the following:

Programmes of the ANECA for the evaluation of studies

  • VERIFICA: it evaluates the proposals of study plans designed in line with the European Higher Education Area
  • MONITOR: it provides universities with an external appraisal on the implementation of their official degrees with a view to using this appraisal as an additional element to improve the training offered
  • ACREDITA: it evaluates official university degrees before they are accredited in order to check that they have been implemented in accordance with the initial project description
  • ACREDITA PLUS: it offers programmes the possibility of renewing their accreditation and being awarded the European/international quality label, exploiting the synergies between the two evaluation procedures
  • MENCIÓN: it aims to establish the procedure to obtain a Quality Label that shows the recognition of the scientific and technical reliability of the doctoral studies of Spanish universities, as well as of the research groups or departments in charge of doctoral training.

Programmes of the ANECA for the evaluation of institutions

Participation in both programmes is voluntary.

  • DOCENTIA: its aim is to support universities in the design of their own mechanisms to manage the quality of the teaching practice of university teachers and to contribute to their development and recognition
  • AUDIT: it is designed to provide guidance regarding the design of internal quality assurance systems that integrate the activities that have been developed so far in the area of quality assurance in university studies.

Programmes of the ANECA for the evaluation of teachers

Participation in both programmes is compulsory for teachers who participate in processes for the recruitment or access to the university teaching staff.

  • PEP: it evaluates the teaching and research experience and the academic qualifications of prospective teachers in order to have access to the positions of Associate Teacher, Assistant Teacher –both requiring a PhD- and Private University Teacher (non-official staff) established by the Act Modifying the Act on Universities (2007)
  • ACADEMIA: it evaluates the profile of prospective teachers in order to have access to the positions of university Senior Lecturer and Senior Professor (official staff).