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Approval process for Joint Awards - UK

The completed Approval to Proceed to Next Steps form should then be submitted to the Teaching and Learning Adviser (Collaborations) in TLSD and once this has been received the Teaching and Learning Adviser (Collaborations) will arrange an Approval to Proceed to Next Steps meeting, chaired by the Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students.  This meeting will also include The Dean (or relevant Associate Dean) from the Faculty; Head of School (or nominee); and the Teaching and Learning Adviser (Collaborations).  This Panel will then make preliminary judgements about:

  • Whether there is a sound rationale for the proposed collaboration and how the partner institution's mission, strategy, quality and ethos are compatible with those of the University of Manchester (this may include reference to ranking tables);
  • Whether the proposed collaboration is consistent with the University of Manchester ’Vision 2020’ strategic document;
  • Whether it would be appropriate to undertake the proposed collaboration in view of the University's existing collaborative arrangements and other commitments;
  • an indication of the number of students which might be enrolled;
  • the programme or programmes which would be the subject of the collaboration (including whether these are new or existing programmes);
  • Whether the proposed collaboration will command the commitment and support of the School, Faculty and senior management of the University and of the prospective partner institution.

In addition, consideration will be given to:

  • Whether the outline financial case is sound (the approval panel must be satisfied that there is a sound business case for the programme based upon realistic projections of revenues and full and accurate costing of activities);
  • Any perceived risk to the University.

Following this meeting, The Vice President (Teaching, Learning and Students) will then make a decision as to whether the proposal should proceed to the next steps.  Approval at this stage is only ‘Approval to Proceed to Next Steps’ and is not final approval for the proposed collaboration.

If a recommendation to proceed is agreed, the TLSD (where necessary) will invite the prospective partner institution(s) to submit further supporting evidence, especially around the institutional structure, current degree regulations and arrangements for the assurance of quality and standards.  In cases where prospective partner institutions are known to have, or to have had, previous joint degree arrangements with other UK awarding institutions, the latter may be contacted by the Teaching and Learning Adviser (Collaborations) to ascertain the standing and effectiveness of the prospective partner, particularly in cases where the joint degree has come to an end.

The Vice President (Teaching, Learning and Students) will then require a visit the institution(s).  The visiting team will normally include The Associate Vice President (Teaching, Learning and Students) or the Faculty Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning and the Teaching and Learning Adviser (Collaborations).   The team should gather relevant evidence and present this in a report to the Dean of Faculty.  The Dean of Faculty should then evaluate all of the evidence regarding the proposed collaboration and recommend to the Vice-President (Teaching, Learning and Students) whether, or not to proceed to a full Institutional approval.  

Where ‘Approval to Proceed to Next Steps’ has been granted and alongside the visit to the institution(s), once general arrangements for the proposed collaboration have been agreed, it is then possible to consider and approve or make amendments to the specific programme(s) where necessary.  The compatibility of degree regulations must be considered in detail at this stage.

The University’s procedure for approving new programmes and amendments should be followed and the approval documentation should include a programme specification, unit specifications and agreed split of delivery and assessment.  It is recommended that the Faculty Committee responsible for approving or amending the programme(s), also receive a copy of the notes from the Approval to Proceed to Next Steps meeting and report from the approval visit.

After being presented with the necessary documentation, The Vice-President (Teaching, Learning and Students) will consider whether due process has been followed at every stage and whether the relevant criteria have been met.  If satisfied that this is the case, final approval will then be given.  The final decision to approve the collaboration will be taken by the Vice-President (Teaching, Learning and Students).

It may be beneficial for an Operations Manual to be produced for this type of collaboration which will ensure transparency for staff at both institutions and set out clearly individual roles and responsibilities.  The Teaching and Learning Adviser (Collaborations) will assist in the development of this.

Once the Vice-President (Teaching, Learning and Students) has approved the collaboration, the final Memorandum of Agreement will be finalised in conjunction with the University’s Contracts Team.  The agreement will clearly set out the following requirements:

  • Responsibilities for publicity and marketing and, where appropriate, agreed procedures for approval;
  • Responsibilities for admissions and, where appropriate, agreed procedures for monitoring entry standards;
  • Responsibilities for enrolment and registration;
  • Minimum and maximum student numbers (where necessary);
  • Responsibilities for student support and guidance;
  • Responsibilities for student progression, including the maintenance of student and other designated records during the course of the agreement, after its termination, and in the event of the partner institution ceasing to exist;
  • Responsibilities for student discipline, complaints, and appeals;
  • Arrangements for the conduct of examination and assessment;
  • The appointment and role of external examiners;
  • Quality assurance arrangements;
  • The duration of the agreement and arrangements to review it;
  • Provision to enable the University to seek arbitration or suspend or terminate the agreement in the event of the partner institution failing to fulfil its obligations;
  • Residual obligations to students on the termination of the agreement;
  • Responsibilities for managing and issuing certificates and transcripts;
  • Mechanisms for administering the collaboration;
  • Financial arrangements including costings, the recording of all financial transactions with the partner institution, safeguards against financial pressures compromising standards and the interests of students, confirmation of who is to pay travel, accommodation, external examiner and subsistence expenses;
  • Legal arrangements, including the legal jurisdiction under which disputes will be resolved;
  • annexes with details of the programme(s) covered by the agreement.

The Teaching and Learning Adviser (Collaboration) in TLSD will send two copies to the partner(s) to be signed.  Once the signed copies have been returned to TLSD, the University’s Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer will sign both copies; one will be kept within TLSD and one will be sent to the Partner(s) for their files.  The partnership will then be added to the University’s Register of Collaborative Provision and the University’s review schedule.