The Master’s organizing institutions enforce their own respective internal quality assurance procedures which are detailed below. A Studies Commission (joint commission), formed by two member representing UZ and other two members representing IAMZ-CIHEAM, have among other missions to ensure the academic excellence of the Master concerning organization, content and lecturers, in accordance with the academic regulations of CIHEAM and UZ, and to ensure the fulfilment of the requirements of quality demanded by the evaluating bodies. The representatives of each co-organizing institution in the Commission are responsible for the procedures followed to be in accordance with the quality assurance system of their own institution, as well as for monitoring their compliance in their respective institutions afterwards.
University of Zaragoza - Internal quality assurance system
Each degree avails of a quality management system that is responsible for the monitoring and surveillance of the student results and learning process throughout the studies. The quality system relies on various bodies and coordination mechanisms, and on the continuous assessment and improvement of the studies, as foreseen in the Regulations for the degrees’ quality of the University of Zaragoza.
The main actor of the quality system is the Degree Coordinator, who acts as the true academic supervisor of the degree. S/he coordinates the activities of the various units and modules to ensure their adequacy to the learning objectives set, leads the periodic assessments of the degree and proposes and drives the continuous improvement actions.
The Quality Assurance Commission is the official body governing the degree under the mandate of the Board of the Centre. It establishes the guidelines and the work framework for the Coordinator and all persons involved in the degree, and makes all the decisions related to the degree, its modifications and its improvement plans.
The Quality Assessment Commission is the body responsible for the yearly assessment of the degree planning and development, through the information given by the various information gathering procedures and through its main indicators.
The Degrees’ Commission of the University of Zaragoza supervises the correct functioning of the quality system of all the degrees of this University.
The Degree Project is the reference document gathering the outcome profiles and the competences to be acquired by the students at the end of their studies, as well as the organization, academic plans, syllabus and resources that guarantee the students’ proper conditions for the achievement of the foreseen learning outcomes. Following the stated in this reference document, the degree starts up a series of mechanisms for planning and coordinating the academic organization of units and modules, encouraged by the Degree Coordinator, whose results are drawn in the study guides. Besides, all the information gathering procedures examine the opinion and experience of students, and the judgement of lecturers, the administration and services staff, alumni and external experts. This information, together with the data contributed by the degree indicators (indicators of success, performance, efficiency, withdrawal and graduation), constitute the basis of the Yearly report for the assessment of the learning quality and results made by the Quality Assessment Commission. From this assessment report, the Innovation and quality yearly plan is designed to be approved by the degree’s Quality Assurance Commission. This plan integrates the set of measures and projects aimed to solve the possible observed shortages and to move towards the suggested directions for improvement, as well as the modifications in the degree organization and planning considered convenient at each moment.
This set of actions shapes the annual cycle of quality assessment and continuous improvement of the degree, supported by the Training Programmes for the lecturers of the University of Zaragoza and the Programmes for Innovation and training improvement.
Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza - CIHEAM - Internal quality assurance system
The IAMZ-CIHEAM structure for quality assurance is composed by the following bodies:
- CIHEAM’s General Secretariat and Governing Board. The Governing Board is composed of representatives of the 13 member countries of the institution, who are academic or research authorities appointed by their respective Governments to perform this function
- IAMZ’s Director and Principal Administrator for Training
- Studies Commission for each of the Master programmes
- Ad-hoc Commission formed by international experts internal and external to each of the Master programmes, who advise on their implementation and periodical monitoring every fourth or fifth edition
IAMZ annually reports the results of the assessments carried out and the actions taken in order to improve the quality of the Master programmes to the CIHEAM General Secretariat and Governing Board, under whose responsibility the Master degrees are granted by the institution.
Each Master programme has a Studies Commission whose mission, among others, is related to the implementation and follow-up of the quality assurance system in each specific speciality, including: (i) determining the skills and knowledge to be acquired by the Master students; (ii) setting the criteria and requirements for access to these studies; (iii) encouraging and promoting the mobility of students and academic staff involved in the Master; and (iv) ensuring the academic excellence of the Master organization, content and lecturing staff, in accordance with the CIHEAM’s academic regulations and compliance with quality requirements demanded by the evaluating bodies, both from CIHEAM and the Spanish higher education system, since it is a degree recognized by the State of Spain as equivalent to the official Master degree of the Spanish university system.
In compliance with the CIHEAM’s academic regulations, when a Master programme in a new specialization is proposed, an international group of experts in that speciality constitutes an ad-hoc Commission to advise the institution on the educational competences, content and learning activities for the new programme, and also proposes a panel of guest lecturers that will develop such programme. This Commission is composed by of a total of five or six external experts (university lecturers, researchers from public research bodies and professionals from institutions and companies in the sector) and the staff responsible for training at the IAMZ and the co-organizing institutions (in those cases of the IAMZ Master being jointly organized). One of the members of this ad-hoc Commission is appointed Scientific Director of the Master to coordinate the scientific aspects of the programme and monitor their development. In some cases, especially when the programme multidisciplinarity requires so, more than one scientific director may be designated. Likewise the Studies Commission may request the ad-hoc Commission members’ advice for the programme monitoring, if they consider so to be suitable.
During the development of the programmes, the Studies Commission carries out a continuous monitoring of the programme, through surveys made to students and lecturers, as well as through consultation with other groups involved. At the end of each edition of the Master, the Studies Commission evaluates the results and proposes relevant improvement actions for the following edition. In those Master programmes jointly organized with other institutions, as is the case of the Master in Animal Nutrition and its UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission, the representatives of each co-organizing institution in the Commission are responsible for the procedures followed to be in accordance with the quality assurance system of their own institution, as well as for monitoring their compliance in their respective institutions afterwards.
Procedure for training and lecturer quality assessment and improvement
Both in the first part of the programme and in the second, surveys to students are carried out to assess the achievement of the learning outcomes, the quality and adequacy of the learning activities run, the quality of the lecturers, and the suitability of the resources and services available. Likewise surveys to lecturers are conducted so that they can make proposals for improving both their subject and the whole programme, and rate the adequacy of assigned timeframes, their contribution to the learning outcomes, the definition of possible new learning activities, the students’ interest and commitment, and the quality of the organization.
After four or five editions an assessment in depth is conducted to re-focus the programme. The evaluation is carried out by an International Committee involving the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master, experts external to the organizing institutions and to the programme, and lecturers from the programme. The objective of this assessment is to review in depth the context and the objectives of the Master, to analyze the Syllabus of the programme, to update its contents and activities and to reassess the whole of the lecturing staff. Prior to the evaluation meeting, each Member of the Committee receives a comprehensive report on all aspects of the latest editions of the programme, a summary of the outcome of the surveys conducted to students and lecturers in these editions, and an analysis of the surveys conducted to the alumni of the programme (these surveys are of great interest in this type of evaluation, since the assessment of the programme made by alumni also has a perspective of application of contents to their professional activity). Depending on the type of modifications proposed following this evaluation, and in accordance with the regulations of ACPUA (Agency for University Quality and Foresight of Aragon) and ANECA (National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain), the degree is subject to a process of modification or new verification.
Procedure for quality assurance for students’ mobility during the second part of the programme
The second part of the Master (second academic year) takes place on a mobility scheme in prestigious institutions collaborating with the Master’s organizing institutions in the development of this part of the programme. For more information about the characteristics of this part of the programme please refer to the sections General information and Syllabus and Study guide.
As from its first edition in 2007 the Master has availed of numerous institutions’ collaboration, and has been able to adjust the selection of the institutions where students develop their activities based on their scientific quality, their dedication to solid and innovative student training, and the satisfaction that the students show.
Both students and supervisors receive detailed information about the expected learning outcomes, deadlines, evaluation methods and criteria, standards for the presentation of documents, etc. to ensure the quality of training through this mobility period, as well as its smooth running.
During the unit "Introduction to research", in order to monitor the progress and the quality of the training in this subject, students should submit periodically to the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master at least three reports detailing: (i) work planning and schedule; (ii) material used, techniques applied and methodology employed; (iii) data reflecting the scope of work carried out in each phase; (iv) progress made in the various activities carried out in each phase of the project; and (v) obstacles encountered in every part of the project, as well as the solutions found.
At the end of the second part of the Master students complete a questionnaire with a detailed evaluation of the training received, the advice provided by their tutors and the degree of satisfaction with the host institutions and departments to which they have been attached.
The UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master, at the end of each edition, evaluates the development of this activity and proposes relevant improvements based on the results of the training and the research projects, the surveys to students and the evaluation carried out by the supervisor on their students’ performance and attitude.
Procedure for the analysis of alumni employment and the satisfaction with the education received
Every four or five editions of the Master, a very detailed survey is conducted among the students of the latest promotions. Through this questionnaire personal data is updated and graduates assess and comment on the following main aspects:
- Current professional activity, to assess career progress in general and involvement with the specialization studied in the Master in particular.
- Usefulness of the programme in their career.
- Assessment of the current approach of the Master and its contents, considering the perspective provided by their professional experience in the field.
Procedure for the analysis of satisfaction of the different groups involved and attention to suggestions or complaints
As well as through surveys conducted periodically, students can channel their complaints and comments through the Master technical coordinator, with whom they have direct daily contact. Likewise meetings with the Director of the IAMZ and the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master may be arranged if required by the nature of the issue to be dealt with.
Lecturers also convey their comments, suggestions or claims through surveys. In addition, they also maintain direct continuous contact with the technical coordinator of the Master and have direct access to the IAMZ Director and the administrator for training so as to be able to present their comments and suggestions at any time.
The whole staff of the IAMZ, fully dedicated to the organizational tasks related to the training, have direct access to the technical coordinator of the Master and the managerial board of the institution if they wish to make any comments, suggestions or claims.