The German agency AQAS (Agency for Quality Assurance) accredited the quality of two doctoral programs of BIOREN-UFRO at our University. This acknowledgment was the main challenge of the Performance Agreement of Internationalization of doctoral programs. Now, the challenge is completed successfully.
“Accredited without conditions”. This is the highest acknowledgement of quality one can get at the international level. It means that there are no impediments at all to certify the quality of an academic program. And this is exactly what the doctoral programs in Natural Resource Sciences and Science with specialization in Applied Cellular and Molecular Biology of the Universidad de La Frontera achieved.
Both programs went through the accreditation process during 2017, within the framework of the Performance Agreement of Internationalization, which this institution was developing since 2012 and whose main challenge was to obtain this quality assurance with European standards.
Now, it has become reality, because the German agency AQAS decided to accredit “without conditions” – or observations – the quality of both doctoral programs.
“We achieved this accreditation with European standards and very stringent protocols. This was the last aim left of the Performance Agreement. Now, the significant impact will show in the international projection of the University, the objective prove of the quality of the programs and the possibility to establish the bases for new partnerships and the development of postgraduate studies at the international level”, said the director of Institutional Analysis and Development, Ricardo Herrera.
Compared to the national process, the international accreditation includes a visit of assessment experts who observe the declared conditions in the self-assessment report on site. “Five experts come to visit and stay for three days to observe everything. This is very important in terms of the verification on site of the programs´ quality”, Ricardo Herrera specified.
He also added that the visiting experts were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the academic bodies, the impact of scientific production and above all, by the level of scientific equipment the University has and the way the access to it for the different research groups is resolved by the BIOREN platform.
EQUIVALENCE WITH EUROPE
For the director of the doctoral program in Natural Resource Sciences, Dr. Francisco Matus, the complete recognition without conditions is very important. “We are now accredited in the best way possible, without any objections by one of the most important accrediting agencies of Europe. This is a giant step for us, because it opens doors to that continent, since they can apply for our programs, because now they have the same standards as in Europe.”
On the other hand, Dr. Matus states that – although the UFRO doctoral programs have a broad scientific network with worldwide centers of excellence – this achievement will permit to strengthen the international promotion of the doctoral programs through the same agency. He emphasized the strictness of the process of the visit and commented that one of the assessors was a doctoral student who can assess from the user´s point of view.
Regarding the doctoral program, the director pointed out that they had put a lot of emphasis on the quality of the theses, the scientific indexes or impact factors, the academic staff and the empowerment of professors to guide the theses. “In this point, we have important restrictions. For example, our academic staff can only guide theses if they have had at least eight publications in five years or if they have conducted FONDECYT projects. This is just one example of how serious we take the postgraduate studies at this university”, Dr. Matus concluded.
This recognition is not a coincidence, but the result of permanent and hard work. This is how the director of the doctoral program in Science with specialization in Applied Cellular and Molecular Biology, Dr. Luis Salazar, describes it. “This is the culmination of extensive work that started in 2012, when we have been awarded a Performance Agreement of Internationalization. In other words, we have been permanently working on self-assessment during the last five years, what permitted us to significantly improve our indicators.”
This Program increased its scientific productivity from 160 publications between 2008 and 2012 to more than 600 between 2013 and 2017, only by the academic team with 21 members. The last 40 graduates also contributed with 186 ISI publications from 2012 to 2017.
At the same time, he pointed out that the international visitors evaluated the quality of the academic body, infrastructure and equipment. According to Dr. Salazar, an essential fact was also the student quality and the number of outside scholarships. In addition to that, the positive opinion of the students of the program and the increase in foreign students, with 28% of doctoral students from different Latin American countries, also played an important role.
Written by: Direction of Communications