The initial research into the current situation in Spain offered an uneven picture of the current state of quality assurance practices in online learning. Our findings revealed that a common quality assurance framework is yet to be established, as there is no legal standardization nor publicly established regulations concerning the quality assurance of e-learning practices in education in general, and VET education in particular. 

Nonetheless, some interesting initiatives can be found throughout Spain, ranging from isolated practices (particular to one specific educational center) to regional or national frameworks. Among these is the AUDIT Program developed in 2007 by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain (ANECA by its Spanish acronym). The program was pushed by the current legal changes introduced in the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) as well as in Spanish regulations establishing that universities must have formally established and publicly available Internal Quality Assurance Systems (IQAS) and policies. 

ANECA evaluates the quality of online programs at three different stages: 

  • First, guidance for the design of IQAS. The agency provides the Centers with guidelines for the design of Internal Quality Assurance Systems for the courses they teach;
  • Second, certification of IQAS design. At this stage, a procedure is implemented for the recognition and certification of the design of these systems by external quality assurance agencies.
  • Third, certification of the implemented IQAS. After the certification of the design of the IQAS, the center begins the implementation, and subsequently, the agency certifies the IQAS implemented in the center.

Owing the nature of the Program’s development, the AUDIT evaluation model is aligned with the Criteria and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), providing universities with support in attempting to meet the recommendations set out in the first stage(Guidance for the design of IQAS). After its launch in 2007, 80% of national universities participated, reaching the objectives set in stage 2 (Certification of IQAS design). Since 2013, there has been a pilot project to certify the implementation of the IQAS put in place in the centers (stage 3).

In conclusion, the purpose of the program is to encourage and promote the development and implementation of internal quality assurance systems within Spanish university centers, and to implement a procedure leading to the recognition and certification of these systems. Initiatives like the one presented are promising and well-rounded, however, there is still a long way to go to reach a common, all-encompassing and legally binding quality assurance framework regarding e-learning in different educational levels.