How We Structure Quality
How We Structure Quality
A quality system aims to create mechanisms and procedures that ensure, internally, the promotion of the improvement of processes in line with the institution’s mission and, externally, compliance with the requirements of transparency and accountability to Society.
The Quality System (QS) of Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP) aims to respond to HEIs’ need for management systems that enable them to deal with the internal and external complexities in which they operate, in accordance with the institution’s strategic planning and its implementation, and ensuring the introduction of the necessary improvements, identified through close monitoring.
Thus, through the production of information, the promotion of reflection and the assessment of the attainment of the outlined goals, the QS takes on the function of supporting strategic guidance, supporting decision-making and institutional management, and monitoring resources, activities, and results.
The Quality System of Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP QS) was created in 2018, within the legal framework and ethos of the national and European Higher Education sector, where the Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES), following the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and the recommendations of the Bologna Process aimed at creating the European Higher Education Area, has certified institutional quality systems since 2012. UCP QS’s main goals have been quality assurance and permanent improvement, subject to certification by the A3ES.
UCP’s QS is a commitment to transparency, to respond to requests from governmental and regulatory entities in the sector and, above all, to be accountable to Society in general.
UCP’s QS is guided by a set of organizational and operational principles, namely:
a. Designing a QS that aligns with the principles and values of UCP, its strategic orientation, its positioning, its internal organization and its mission of teaching, research and service to the community;
b. Global coverage of the entire institution, including its Main Campus and its three Regional Centres, all Organic Units, its Support Services, and all domains of the institution’s activity;
c. A system that is inclusive, insofar as it comprises the views and assessment of the different stakeholders that make up the internal community of the University as well as those who, while being external, have an interest in UCP’s activities;
d. Establishing a structure of dedicated bodies with a clear distribution of competences within the system, which are interconnected with the existing governance and management structure. Management roles, to be determined according with the duties inherent to their existing roles, are predominantly assigned to those responsible for the bodies already in existence at the University, and entail taking over responsibility for the assessment cycles and, in conjunction with the established governance and management structure, ensuring that these are translated into improvement policies and measures;
e. The univocal dimension of the QS, in the sense of building a shared vision and comparability between Organic Units, academic and scientific areas, and support services;
f. Risk Management, which will include mechanisms for identifying sources of uncertainty and their corresponding mitigation, that will impact the quality of services provided, as well as the definition of minimum resources and observed quality thresholds, and mandatory procedures to deal with negative levels in the defined indicators (quality assurance mechanisms);
g. Use of standardized databases (built in compliance with established and auditable rules and procedures, common to all internal domains of the University, regarding the collection, recording and availability of information), enabling the alignment between the information provided externally with the information which feeds the internal quality management processes;
h. Clear definition of the Quality Policy and of the commitments to be made towards the institutional and sustainable process of continuous improvement;
i. Management Control and Review, including annual reviews, which cover all processes, and are based on information obtained through the Continuous Assessment and Improvement mechanism;
j. Planning whose goals and Strategic Initiatives are defined by the Board of Governors, integrated in the SDP and the Quality Plan (PQ), and occasionally revised as needed;
k. Semi-annual monitoring as part of the SDP, without prejudice to the procedural monitoring of the QS;
l.Review and Improvement as a result of Monitoring, with the proposal of improvement plans managed and monitored as part of the QS, and whose effectiveness is regularly assessed as part of Monitoring;
m. The existence of a culture of planning, continuous assessment and improvement, based on information systems that support decision-making, as well as internal (developed and applied by UCP) and external (developed and applied by external entities) scrutiny and monitoring mechanisms.
The Quality System assists in determining the institutional strategic direction in conjunction with the existing governance and management structures.
The body that presides over the Quality System (QS) at the institutional level is the UCP Quality Council (CQ UCP), responsible for all decisions related to the QS, namely its principles and instruments, and the approval of the UCP Quality Report. It is also responsible for submitting the UCP Quality Plan to the Board of Governors. This body is assisted by the CUCP Quality Council Committee (ComQ UCP), which prepares the directives of the Quality Council and monitors and ensures the proper functioning of the QS.
Responsibility for the Quality System is formally delegated by the Rector to a Vice-Rector (Vice-Rector esponsável pelo Sistema da Qualidade). The Vice-Rector performs this role in close cooperation with those members of the Rector’s Team in charge of the Macroprocesses of the UCP QS, who are responsible for ensuring the quality cycle of each of the Macroprocesses.
The UCP Quality Committee may function in plenary form or as permanent or ad-hoc subcommittees. The permanent subcommittees monitor the nine Mission, Resources and Transversal Macroprocesses. The monitoring of the Governance and Continuous Improvement Macroprocess is done at the plenary level, which is subordinate to the QC. Mandates in these bodies have the same duration as the institutional cycle, namely four years, except where there is explicit reference to the contrary.
At the intermediate institutional level, the bodies of UCP’s QS are: the Organic Units Quality Committee (ComQ UB one per unit), and the Support Services Quality Committee (ComQ SA), ), which combines the services of the Main Campus and Regional Centers. These bodies ensure that the entire institution is covered by the Quality System. At the operational level of the Organic Units, the functions of the QS are ensured by the bodies in operation (e.g. Pedagogical Councils, Scientific Councils, the bodies of the Research and Service Units) and by those responsible for the activities under assessment. Each Organic Unit has Quality Representative. Additionally, there is one Quality Representative who represents all Research Centres. The same is the case for all Coordination Units (one Representative).
The Technical Team for the Quality System, also known as Quality Team (EQ), includes staff working exclusively in the QS, as well as members of staff who perform advisory roles to the Macroprocesses. The QT reports to the Vice-Rector of the QS and, in a specialized manner, to the members of the Rector’s Team in charge of Macroprocesses, who are responsible for ensuring the respective quality cycles. This team must ensure the development and operation of the different technical components of the QS. To this end, it will act in close collaboration with the Quality Representatives and other bodies.