Section 9.2 Partnership approval
1. Proposals to establish collaborative partnerships relating to taught programmes or research degrees may be initiated by prospective partner organisations; by interested parties in the University; or by both.
2. The University recognises that in order to establish whether there is the potential to pursue the development of a collaborative partnership there is likely to be a need for discussions between the prospective partner and the interested party(ies) in the University before an initial proposal can be developed and submitted for consideration. However, where such discussions are entered into the interested party(ies) from the University must ensure that it is clear to the prospective partner that these discussions constitute an initial sharing of information not negotiations, and that any proposal to establish a collaborative partnership will be subject to approval in accordance with the University's policies and procedures.
3. In order to commence negotiations with a prospective partner, a department/school must complete the Partnership Approval Form available at www.dur.ac.uk/resources/international/PartnershipAppraisalForm.doc.
4. Where a proposal to validate the provision of another institution is being submitted, the initial proposal should be prepared by the partner institution but written confirmation of the support of a Durham department/school that is prepared to support the proposed partnership must be included with the Partnership Approval Form. (This Durham department/school will normally provide the University Liaison Officer for the proposed partnership, should the proposal be approved by the University). For proposed validated partnerships, references to 'the proposing department/school' in the remainder of this document should be read as referring to the proposed partner institution.
5. The initial proposal should be accompanied by a completed initial risk assessment for the proposed partnership, using the University's template available in Appendix A9.04.
6. Initial proposals for partnerships with organizations outside the UK should be submitted for consideration by the University's Partnerships Approval Group. Initial proposals for partnerships with organisations within the UK should be submitted to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor - Education, via the Head of the Academic Support Office.
7. Initial proposals will be considered against the criteria detailed in Section 9.3, and if approved the department/school will be given permission to develop a full proposal in respect of the proposed partnership. If they feel that an initial proposal raises significant issues of principle or business risk, the Partnerships Approvals Group or Pro-Vice-Chancellor - Education may refer these issues to the University Executive Committee before reaching their decision. (This decision will also include confirmation whether a visit to the prospective partner organisation by a review team is necessary, and if it is what the membership of the review team should be: see paragraphs 16-18 below). This decision will be communicated to the proposing department/school by the International Office in the case of international partnerships (copied to the Academic Support Office) or the Head of the Academic Support Office for domestic partnerships.
8. Once initial approval of the proposed collaborative partnership has been granted, the proposing department/school should initiate the new programme approval process in respect of the programme(s) to be offered within the collaborative partnership. It should also develop a full proposal for approval of the collaborative partnership.
Relationship of the collaborative partnership approval process to the new programme approval process
9. For all proposed collaborative partnerships, the proposing department/school should follow Stage 1 of the new programme approval process. This should be done after the partnership has received initial approval, and before a Partnership Approval Panel has taken place.
10. For collaborative programmes involving validated provision, the proposed partner institution should complete a Stage 1 form and working with the Academic Support Office (in liaison with Treasurer's Office) develop a brief statement on the proposed validation fee that will be charged. This will include a fee (to be set by the University) for carrying out the validation process. This fee is non-refundable, irrespective of the final outcome of the partnership approval process.
11. Where the proposed partnership will involve the delivery of a new programme, Stage 2 of the new programme approval process must also be completed. The Partnership Approval Panel will normally be held before the New Programme Approval Panel, and the documentation considered by the former will be available to the latter.
12. If the proposed partnership is for the delivery of an existing programme, Stage 2 will not normally need to be completed. However, the proposing department/school will need to confirm in its submission to the Partnership Approval Panel that the programme to be delivered as part of the proposed partnership does not vary from that already approved by the University.
Development of the full proposal to establish a collaborative partnership
13. It is the responsibility of the proposing department/school to prepare the full proposal. Guidance on the development of full proposals is available in Appendix A9.05. Advice on this is also available from either relevant Assistant Registrar - Faculty Support in the Academic Support Office. All full proposals should be submitted on the form available at Appendix A9.06, and will be considered against the criteria detailed in Section 9.3.
14. The University's Library and Information Technology Service must be consulted in the development of all proposals to establish new collaborative partnerships. One of the following approaches should be adopted:
a. Where a visit to a proposed partner is required and it is deemed appropriate for the review team to include a senior member of academic-related staff with appropriate expertise of learning resources, the consultation will occur through the review visit.
b. Where there is no review visit, or a review visit by a team that does not include a senior member of academic-related staff with appropriate expertise of learning resources, but the proposed collaborative partnership relates to the delivery of a new programme which requires a full programme approval process (see paragraph 11 above), the consultation will occur through the requirement that the Library and ITS comment on the proposed new programme (see Learning and Teaching Handbook 3.3.1, paragraph 24).
c. Where there is no review visit, or a review visit by a team that does not include a senior member of academic-related staff with appropriate expertise of learning resources, and the proposed collaborative partnership relates to an existing programme (so that there will not be a new programme approval process related to the partnership), the proposing department/school must obtain signed resources forms (available at A3.04) from the Director of University IT and the Librarian. (To support this, the proposing department/school should provide the Director of University IT and the Librarian with a copy of the draft full proposal to establish a collaborative partnership, and the programme specification(s) for the programme(s) to be delivered through the proposed partnership).
The Academic Support Office will provide guidance for proposing departments/schools on which approach needs to be adopted in respect of specific proposals.
15. A formal Memorandum of Association to govern the proposed partnership must be drafted by the proposing department/school, with support from the relevant Assistant Registrar - Faculty Support in the Academic Support Office, following a model which has had approval form the University solicitor (the template memorandum for all types of collaborative partnership except validated partnerships is available at Appendix A9.07; the template for validated partnerships is available at Appendix A9.08). If it is necessary to take further legal advice the cost of this must be borne by the proposing department/school (or in the case of validated partnerships, the prospective partner organisation).
Review visit to proposed partner organisation
16. Where the risk assessment submitted as part of initial proposal has indicated that the collaboration proposed represents a medium or high risk, a review team will be required to visit the proposed partner. This review team will normally include:
- the Pro-Vice-Chancellor - Education, or nominee;
- a senior member of academic staff from a department/school other than that involved in the collaboration;
- where appropriate, a senior member of academic-related staff with appropriate expertise of learning resources;
- and the Head of the Academic Support Office or nominee.
17. The review team should gather evidence relevant to the criteria for the approval of the partner organisation and partnerships and present this in a report to the Partnership Approval Panel.
18. All costs associated with the review visit will be met by the proposing department/school, which should include these costs in the business case they put to the Head of Faculty as part of the new programme approval process. For validated partnerships, the cost will be included in the fee charged for considering the proposed partnership.
Procedure for the consideration of the full proposal
19. The following documentation should be submitted to the relevant Faculty Support Officer :
a. a copy of the initial proposal to establish the collaborative partnership, together with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor - Education's decision on this;
b. a completed full proposal form (Appendix A9.06);
c. a draft memorandum of agreement;
d. the full business case for the partnership, as considered and approved by the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor as part of the new programme approval process;
e. where a review visit has been carried out, a copy of the team's report.
20. The full proposal will be considered by a Partnership Approval Panel consisting of:
- a member of University Education Committee or Quality and Standards Sub-Committee (Chair);
- the Chair of the relevant Faculty Education Committee (or nominee in the case of a conflict of interest, such as a proposal from the Chair's own department/school);
- the Director of the International Office;
- the Faculty Accountant;
- the Head of the Academic Support Office.
The Panel will be serviced by the appropriate Faculty Support Officer.
21. The proposing department/school will be invited to send one or more representatives to the panel meeting.
22. The Panel will proceed as follows:
a. the Panel will meet in the first instance without the proposers present to consider the documentation in light of the criteria in Section 9.3. The Panel will then meet with the proposers to discuss issues arising from the documentation;
b. the Panel may request additional or revised documentation;
c. the Panel will meet without the proposers present to decide on a final recommendation;
d. a recommendation will be made to Education (via Quality and Standards Sub-Committee). Partnerships will normally be recommended for approval for a five year period.
23. Panel recommendations may only take the form of:
a. a recommendation to approve the partnership as documented (following revisions arising from the deliberations of the Panel);
b. a recommendation not to approve the partnership as documented (despite any revisions arising from the deliberations of the Panel);
24. Recommendations shall be considered by Education Committee (having first been considered by Quality and Standards Sub-Committee). Where a proposed partnership has been deemed to be low risk by the University's risk assessment tool, the decision on whether to approve the proposed partnership shall be taken by Education Committee and reported to Senate. Where a proposed partnership has been deemed by the University's risk assessment tool to be medium or high risk, Education Committee shall decide whether to recommend the proposed partnership to Senate for final approval.
25. Once a partnership has been approved, if the memorandum of agreement is not signed by both partners within 12 months of the approval of the partnership, or a programme offered through a collaborative partnership has not recruited any students within 24 months of the agreed start date, the partnership will need to be reconsidered through the collaborative partnership approval process.
26. In addition to its recommendation regarding the approval of the proposed partnership, for collaborative partnerships relating to taught programmes the Panel will state the documentation the proposing department/school will be required to submit annually to the Faculty Collaborative Provision Panel. This will vary with the nature of the partnership approved. In the case of a dual or joint award, or other award in which aspects of learning, teaching or assessment will be delegated to the partner the following will normally be expected:
a. performance indicators for the programme showing the:
- number of applicants;
- number of entrants;
- student profile by entry qualification, gender, ethnicity, disability, age-group (young/mature);
- student feedback including module evaluation questionnaires;
- academic standards, including progression rates, pass/fail/withdrawal and final achievement (undergraduate degree classification, master's pass/distinction);
- career destinations if known;
b. a commentary on the performance indicators identifying positive and negative issues and stating action points where relevant;
c. a report on the resources within the partner organisations (IT and Library provision, staff appointments, support service provision, student accommodation) as they affect the student experience. This will vary with the partnership concerned. The report should include evidence of student feedback and an up-date on changes within the last year;
d. the external examiner's report(s) for the last year, any response made and a statement of how the external examiner liaised with the various partners;
e. a report on any specific issues delegated to the partner (e.g. marketing, resource provision);
f. the minutes of the annual review meeting for the partnership;
g. an update on the budget for the partnership agreement.
27. If the partnership relates to research degree provision, the Panel shall, in addition to its recommendation regarding the approval of the proposed partnership, establish the monitoring schedule for the partnership.
Register of collaborative provision
28. If approved, the collaborative partnership shall be included on the University's register of collaborative provision (which is maintained by the Head of the Academic Support Office). The information held on the register shall include:
a. the name, address and nature of the partner organisation;
b. the date the memorandum of agreement was approved; the period covered by the memorandum of agreement; and the date on which the agreement expires;
c. the University department(s)/school(s) involved in the collaborative partnership;
d. the nature of the collaboration and the programmes and awards involved;
e. the language(s) of delivery and assessment;
f. the number of students permitted to be registered, currently registered and who have received awards under the partnership.
29. The register is updated as new partnerships are approved, and is reviewed as a whole on annual basis with departments/schools involved in collaborative partnerships asked to confirm the currency and accuracy of the information on the register.
30. It is important that transcripts do not give a misleading impression of the status of the award because, depending on the nature of the partnership:
a. a Durham award may be given in part on the basis of credits from another institution;
b. a dual award could appear to be two (or more) qualifications.
31. Consequently, degree parchments must make clear the status of a dual award and name the partners.
32. All transcripts for awards which are not provided exclusively in Durham should state:
a. the name of any partners with Durham in the provision;
b. for validated programmes, the name of the provider;
c. the mode and/or location of the provision;
d. in the case of a dual award the fact that this is a dual award delivered in conjunction with the university/ies of .........;
e. where any credits are derived from the provision of a partner organisation, a statement to that effect.