The University is actively involved with other professional, academic and commercial organizations. These relationships offer the opportunity to extend and enhance the institution's academic profile. All collaborative ventures relating to award-bearing taught programmes are regulated within the University quality assurance mechanisms with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (Chapter B10: Managing Higher Education Provision with Others) as its point of reference. These are supported centrally by the Academic Office working closely with Academic Schools and Departments.
Collaborative partnerships may take a number of forms and may be initiated by a prospective partner approaching the University centrally, or an academic Department directly. The development and approval of such partnerships involves a number of stages from the initial strategic approval to the more detailed consideration of the proposal, including a partnership approval visit as part of the process. It is further supported by a set of forms (labelled A-H) to evidence the various stages of the development.
Central to the process of development is the role of the Partnerships Office who work with academic Departments and Schools to produce the forms and other paperwork for the various stages of approval, or for adding new arrangements with an existing partnership. The templates of the forms outlined in the process document are available from the University Academic Office.
Once approved, each programme delivered through a partnership arrangement requires an operational manual which sets out the principal processes and procedures related to the day-to-day running of the programme and outlines the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the venture - both at the University and at the partner institution. This document is devised by the University's central support services working closely with the partners.
An integral University function in collaborations is the so-called link tutor. The main purpose of this role is to monitor academic standards and to foster the development and implementation of appropriate quality assurance processes. Link tutors engage with a partnership programme on a wide range of issues and throughout the span of an academic cycle.
Link tutors focus particularly on processes related to assessment and this includes identifying (in liaison with a partner) dates of examinations boards, review of proposed assessment tasks and the co-ordination of moderation as well as appropriate external scrutiny. To support link tutors in these activities, a guidance document is in use:
To ensure a consistent and transparent record of the process of moderation across partnerships, collaborative programmes use the formal University template:
At the end of an academic cycle, link tutors produce an annual report on a range of aspects of a collaborative relationship, including recruitment and student satisfaction by drawing on their experiences of working with a partner throughout the year.
The periodic review of an existing collaborative programme is a means of assuring excellence of quality and academic standards. Programmes are reviewed in a five-year cycle and this process forms the basis on which partnerships are approved for continuation. As part of the review, partners will submit their programme specification for revalidation and this provides an opportunity for partners to make revisions to the programme. The should be accompanied by a context paper, outlining the rationale for the re-design of the programme.