The Quality Policy of the University of Girona is the document that establishes a summary of the criteria to be followed on the subject of quality for the whole of the institution. The effective deployment of this policy requires the establishment of an institutional model that covers the management of the quality policies both generally and for each of its structural units (teaching institutions, departments and institutes).
The Quality Management Systems at the UdG (QMS's) are the tool with which the formal management mechanisms are established, with the aim of facilitating the attainment of the established objectives with guarantees and quality.
The organisational complexity and heterogeneity typical of an institution such as the UdG favours the formalisation and diversification of its management using a set of QMS's for each of the structural units which, in spite of their individual characteristics, have to work in coordination and consistently. Each QMS thus becomes a means to improve the management, attain the objectives established by the University in accordance with its missions and any others typical of the field and, consequently, ensure the quality of studies at the UdG.
Within the framework of each QMS, a Quality Plan will be established. This will determine the quality improvement objectives in the area, as well as the planning and assignment of resources for its attainment. At institutional level, the university will periodically define its own quality plan.
Each QMS can define its own quality policy, which will necessarily be complementary and consistent with the quality policy of the UdG, to which it will expressly refer.
In September 2019, the UdG approved the Manual governing the Quality Management Systems at the UdG (QMS).
We refer to the said Manual regarding the organisation of the QMS’s, the identification of the various roles and responsibilities in each of them, the processes that make them up (own, legacies or adapted) and that make up the Process Map for each QMS, the elements that make up these processes, which include the responsibility assignment matrix in accordance with the RASCI model, the documents that compose it, and the indicators that allow their monitoring and follow-up. The Continuous Improvement Management Process will be an essential part of the QMS process map.
The management of improvement is an essential part of the QMS. To ensure that the improvement really takes place in a continuous way and is suitably managed, the proposals for improvement are collected, recorded and systematised through objectives and actions for improvement in the respective Improvement Plans.
In order to guarantee the quality and effectiveness of the QMS's, they are periodically reviewed. This becomes particularly relevant per se and is part of the requirements for subjecting the implementation of the QMS to external evaluation. The Unit responsible for the QMS will issue a QMS Review Report with an assessment of the existing processes with regard to its indicators, the appraisal of the QMS itself and of its effectiveness and completeness, and the formalisation of the actions for improvement stemming from the review.
The quality policy of the University favours the transition from a model of quality based on education and its continuous improvement to a model in which the teaching institution is accredited as such, having sufficiently developed the quality of the degrees taught by it under the VSMA framework, with the re-accreditation of the majority of these, and having implemented a quality assurance system that certifies the correct implementation at institution level of a culture based on the management of processes.
The UdG’s quality framework
Since its foundation, the University of Girona has been committed to the promotion of quality in all its activities. This search for excellence and quality are reflected in 4 of the 9 foundational purposes of the University of Girona, which are:
- To strive for excellence in the teaching of all the stages of university education.
- To strive for excellence in research and investigation in all the fields of science, technology, the humanities, the social sciences and the arts.
- To provide the highest quality services.
- To strive for excellence in administrative management to facilitate and guarantee the development of the activities that will allow the University to reach the proposed goals.
Just like the Strategic Plan states the strategic aims of the University of Girona, the quality policy covers the various Quality Management Systems and, therefore, the various quality plans at both institutional and structural unit level.
The UdG's quality policy embraces the institutional objectives and the teaching, research and investigation and management objectives.
The reference framework of this policy covers the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) proposed by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), which states that universities must have established, in all their areas (teaching, research and investigation and management), quality assurance systems to analyse deviations from planning and areas subject to improvement while, at the same time, making it possible to implement proposals for continuous improvement.
The European Excellence Model serves as a reference point so that the institutions can make an internal diagnosis of the degree of quality of their management through self-assessment. Although self-assessment is intended for the whole of the institution, a unit or service can be assessed in isolation too. Such self-assessment will allow it to identify its strong points and areas for improvement, recognise the most important shortfalls and suggest action plans of improvement.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have also become a framework for the University of Girona, since our educational model has to promote social, cultural and economic sustainability. Sustainable development and quality share fundamental concerns even though their origins, objectives, working methods and languages are different. They are both dynamic processes, in constant evolution, which care about the value, usefulness and importance of education.
Quality governance model at the UdG
The quality policy is strategic for the institution, and this is why the rector is the person with most responsibility, delegating to the vice-rector with competence on the subject of quality the functions related to this policy.
The Quality Commission, with representatives from various stakeholders of the University, is the body that watches over the proper development of the processes of definition, planning, advice, application, follow-up, evaluation and improvement of the University of Girona’s quality policy. This task, specifically in the area of the centres and studies, is reinforced for the Centre Quality Commissions, whose structure watches centrally over the quality of studies, guarantees the participation of all stakeholders and ensures accountability.
The Statutes of the UdG regulate responsibilities on the subject of quality of the various government bodies, both individual and collective, in relation to the University’s missions and organisational model. The teaching centres, the study councils, the research and investigation Authorised Committee, the Teaching and Students Authorised Committee, the Programming and Studies Committee, the School of Doctoral Studies, the students, the General Manager's Office and the trustee also have to watch over, promote and suggest improvements for excellence and the improvement of quality.
The Planning and Assessment Office is the administration unit that supports the institutional development of, among others, the fields of evaluation, quality and internal and external information systems for decision-making. The structural units and, individually, the areas of study, in turn receive support from their administrative structure, reinforced with quality officersin each of them.
Quality Policy at the UdG
The Quality Policy of the University of Girona is composed of a set of initiatives intended to promote the following principles:
- Considering, as the public service that we are, students and society in general as a reference point to set objectives and design services and processes;
- Promoting the continued improvement of all processes and activities, for which purpose it is essential to have a system capable of providing the necessary information about the relevant facts so they can be improved;
- Fostering the development and involvement of teaching and research and investigation staff and administrative and service staff as more important assets of the organisation;
- Involving all services, centres, departments and institutes in the improvement of quality, which requires the leadership of the governing team and quality planning in all areas;
- Integrating the SDGs in a cross-disciplinary way, fostering sustainable development and values in the university’s activities.
This can be adjusted based on the programmatic lines of the Management Team and the agreements of the Governing Council and the University Senate itself.
A- Institutional quality
In the institutional arena, the UdG is committed to establishing quality assurance mechanisms applicable to the different services, units and other administrative structures with the objective of ensuring the desirable standards of quality of management.
In spite of the organisational complexity of the UdG, the quality assurance mechanisms of the different structural units, with their specific characteristics, have to work in a coordinated way. Each unit or administrative service must in turn be a means to attain the quality management standards of the University in accordance with its responsibilities.
The management quality approach is based on the introduction of the search for excellence in as many structures as possible, in order to attain an effective and efficient organisation that integrates the common values and criteria that we want to have as a university.
The management quality objectives are:
- Promoting the development of an authentic culture of quality that reaches the entire institution
- Having a system capable of providing the necessary information to provide indicators for the evaluation of objectives
- Remaining receptive to any ideas and opportunities for improvement suggested by any member of the community or of society
- Rendering accounts regarding these commitments to the university community and to society and acting with due transparency
- Promoting the institutional role, recognised in the statutes, of the Quality Committee, as well as of the centres’ quality committees
- Periodically defining, following up and reviewing the plans and objectives for improvement
- Progressing in the integration of quality management with the rest of its management mechanisms, making quality assurance an intrinsic part of them
- Assigning the necessary material and personal resources to facilitate the attainment of the objectives
B- Quality in teaching
B.1.Quality in teaching
The adhesion of the Catalonia university system to the European Higher Education Area (EEEA) entails several commitments, including in particular the application of a consistent, internal and external quality assurance system for the higher education on offer.
The University of Girona's reference is the University Quality Agency of Catalonia's (AQU) VSMA framework for the verification, follow-up, modification and accreditation processes of official degrees. This system is based on the ESG (Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area).
The University of Girona has defined all the processes involved in the development of its degrees in its Quality Assurance System (QAS) and in the QMS of each of the centres. This model combines a group of majority processes cross-disciplinary to all the degrees with a second, smaller group in accordance with the specific characteristics of each centre.
This model has to have a system to automate and reduce the task of collecting information from the different centres and departments, making it possible to concentrate their efforts on the evaluation itself and on the follow-up and generation of their own actions for improvement.
The quality objectives in degrees are:
- Establishing as one of its maximum priorities the search for continuous improvement and progress towards excellence among each of the members of the teaching staff.
- implementation and use of the QMS's of structural units in accordance with the criteria of the ESG (and of the UdG's Quality Manual itself) and the SDGs for the management of institutional quality and the quality of its integrated and affiliated centres, or of plans for their incorporation, such as the Equality Plan, and the incorporation of the gender perspective.
- Establishing the centres’ institutional accreditation on the basis of accreditation of degrees and certification of the QMS itself.
B.2. Education quality
The University of Girona is fully committed to quality teaching within the framework of the European Higher Education Area. This European framework encourages cooperation in quality assurance and the development of criteria and comparable methodologies beyond the legally required ones.
These conditions of the environment, but especially the university's own conviction that it wants to be a leader in the university field and its conviction that the effort employed in excellence will make it better, assumes this commitment.
It is a mission of the University of Girona to recognise and encourage excellence in teaching and promote innovation as one of the determining factors in the continuous improvement of quality.
The role of teachers becomes fundamental in the attainment of a quality EEEA. More specifically, it refers to the need for teaching staff to be satisfied and involved in the learning of their students and it must be subject to external assessments that prove these competencies. The professional development of university teachers must lead to a purpose of improvement in the quality of education, research and investigation and management.
The framework for the assessment of teaching can be found, on the one hand, in the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación, ANECA), which launched the Programme for the Support of the Evaluation of the Teaching Activities of University Teaching Staff (DOCENTIA) in 2007 and whose purpose is to give universities support in the design of their own mechanisms to manage the quality of the educational activities of university teaching staff and foster their development and recognition. On the other hand, there is the framework approved by the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia on the teaching evaluation process for teaching staff at Catalan public universities, with the teaching evaluation model promoted by AQU and the Catalan university system.
The teaching quality objectives are:
- Establishing as one of its maximum priorities the search for continuous improvement and the progress towards excellence of each of the members of the teaching staff
- Fostering the quality of the development and performance of university teaching staff, including training for teaching and for participation in educational innovation projects in competitive tenders
- Encouraging participation in the promotion and evaluation of teaching quality
- Increasing the quality of academic planning in accordance with the design and adequacy of the course plan as well as the resources and teaching materials used
- Increasing the external recognition of the teaching quality of the University of Girona
C- Quality in research and investigation and transfer
In the area of research and investigation, the UdG has the mission of meeting with quality standards all the requirements for users of the University and society in general in relation to the services provided by it in relation to the processes affecting all the activities in the field of the research and investigation.
In this aspect of searching for excellence, the existence of a stimulating and favourable work environment for researchers, harmonised with the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Behaviour for the recruitment of researchers. The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) is the main support in the implementation of the policies and practices of the Charter and the Code. Its implementation makes the institution more attractive for researchers searching for a new destination. Having HRS4R accreditation culminates with the recognition of excellence in human resources in research and investigation.
This plan must also inspire quality objectives on the subject of knowledge and technology transfer so that both the institutional strategy and the main players in this transfer have to base themselves on explicit quality objectives. This affects particularly the sectoral campuses, chairs and foundations.
The research and investigation and transfer quality objectives are:
- Achieving a competitive level of scientific quality in the national and international contexts
- Increasing the external recognition of the quality of research and investigation of the University of Girona’s groups with the participation and direction of national and international networks as an incentive
- Encouraging the improvement of the quality and quantity of scientific production
- Promoting and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology to society; and, as the top knowledge institution in the demarcation, assuming the leadership of the territory in the organisation and revitalisation of innovative ecosystems
- Progressing in the availability of scientific and technological support spaces, facilities and services in accordance with quality research and investigation and innovation needs
- Watching over the continuing education of researchers at different stages, from the predoctoral stage to that of senior researcher renowned for promoting progress in academic science careers
- Advancing in the implementation and use of Quality Assurance Systems at department and institute level and, where appropriate, Research and Investigation Groups, to attain their own quality and improvement objectives
D- Quality of services
The University of Girona has as one of its objectives prioritising the improvement of quality in all services in order to extend management excellence at the University.
Quality seals, certificates and other accreditations are the reflection of an organisation (in this case a university service) that complies with the current legislation in the preparation or performance of a product or service. It is a guarantee and safety badge for customers or users and one of prestige for society. As an alternative to the EFQM Model, the ISO standards, among them ISO 9001 for quality or the environmental standard ISO 14001, can be considered by way of reference for some technical services.
A useful tool for the quality assurance of services is provided by the Service Charters, a document where users are publicly informed of the raison d'être of the service and of the tasks, activities or services offered. It must establish the quality commitments with the users of the service, based on a list of services, indicators and commitments to quality that measure their fulfilment. And the corresponding RASCI matrix has to be specified.
The quality objectives in services are:
- Publishing all the services aimed at the direct provision of services to users, a service charter that must be periodically reviewed and included in the University's transparency portal
- Having the identification and description of the key processes of each Service, especially the services related to the institution's or the units’ QMS.
- Having an “externally certified” quality management system according to the EFQM model or ISO standards in some units
- Implementing the management processes in the areas of study in accordance with the QMS Manual of each centre
- Linking quality resources in accordance with the improvement and accountability objectives
E- System of complaints, suggestions and congratulations
One of the tools for the improvement of quality of public services is based on the involvement of the players themselves and of the users in the process.
The suggestion mailbox must constitute a one-stop shop for all complaints, suggestions and congratulations, and must provide a standard treatment that can be traced and is suitable regardless of the origin of the incident reported to any of the units of the UdG.
Those proposals made on UdG participation platforms that can be considered equivalent to complaints, suggestions and congratulations will be sent to suggestion mailbox by the platform manager.
The treatment of complaints and suggestions must entail an answer on the part of the institution and, if necessary, a request for clarification about the request received.
In the case of congratulations, the message must be sent to the centre or service manager and the issue must be closed.
The quality objectives in the complaints, suggestions and congratulations system are:
- Having one agile system for dealing with complaints and suggestions
- Providing managers with congratulations messages and following up the final recipients, if applicable.
- Having a satisfaction survey for the complaints, suggestions and congratulations system