The UOC was created with the support of the Government of Catalonia to provide a distance university education service in Catalan. It was formed as a privately managed entity (not-for-profit private foundation whose trustees include representatives from Catalan society).
The UOC is a university that provides a public service but is organized in accordance with the principles of private management. The UOC forms part of the Catalan and Spanish public university systems. The courses it offers are official and endorsed by the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya) and the Spanish Quality Assessment and Accreditation Agency (ANECA), guaranteeing academic rigour and compliance with the standards required by the European university system.
In this respect, the University renders a public service on the grounds of:
- its supervision: the University and its leadership are subject to the checks and controls stipulated by the Government and Parliament of Catalonia (ratification of the president appointed, annual accounts, annual appearance before the Parliament, regulations governing staff recruitment, supervision by the Comptroller, supervision by the Public Audit Office, supervision by the Catalan Ministry of Economy and Knowledge and the Directorate-General for Universities, etc.);
- its tuition fees: the fees are linked to the Decree issued each year by the Government of Catalonia regulating the prices of the academic services provided at the public universities in Catalonia and at the UOC;
- the government subsidy: the University receives a subsidy to cover the real cost of student tuition. The UOC's sustainability is dependent on this government subsidy (30% of the total budget) and fulfilment of the goals defined in the Programme Contract;
- the financial regulations: the University is bound by the regulations covering public administration contracting;
- inclusion in the education system: the UOC was one of the founding members the ACUP (Catalan Public University Association). At national level, it is a member of the CRUE (Conference of Spanish University Rectors). The UOC's president attends the meetings of the Inter-University Council of Catalonia and the Spanish Universities Council as a full member.
Whereas, the University's private management is based on:
- the system of governance: the Board of Trustees, the UOC's highest representative, governing and administrative body, has 11 trustees (6 from the private sector and 5 from the public sector);
- the ownership: the Catalan Government has representatives on the Foundation's Board of Trustees but it neither holds a majority nor does it preside it;
- the contracting: the University's faculty and staff are not public sector employees;
- greater flexibility: the fact that it is a private foundation gives the University greater independence in its management and allows for more agile decision-making to adapt to changes in the environment.
The UOC is a member of the Catalan university system alongside the other public and private universities in Catalonia:
- The qualifications offered by the UOC keep to the university course structure set in Catalonia and they are official qualifications compliant with the European university system (EHEA).
Furthermore, the UOC guarantees the quality of its courses by means of the Audit programme used by the quality rating agencies.
- The qualifications offered by the UOC are endorsed by the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya) and the Spanish Quality Assessment and Accreditation Agency (ANECA), guaranteeing academic rigour and compliance with the standards required by the European university system.