Changes to partnerships
1. The Common Awards partnerships between Durham University and the Theological Education Institutions (TEIs) were approved on the basis of the evidence obtained during the initial validation visit process, and in line with the University’s criteria for approving new collaborative partnerships.
2. Durham University has entered into direct contracts with a number of the Designated TEIs that are listed in Schedule 1 of the Service Contract between the University and the Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council. The Service Contract specifies the composition of each of the TEIs, and names the approved delivery centres of which multi-centre TEIs are comprised.
3. The University is aware that changes to the approved partnerships are to be expected in response to, for example, external review, national or regional initiatives, or market demand.
4. In light of such changes, Durham University needs to assure itself that:
- the contract governing the partnership remains valid;
- the partnership changes do not result in serial arrangements;
- the academic, financial, and legal status of the partner remain appropriate;
- the partnership remains aligned with the University's strategic aims and objectives;
- the programme will continue to meet the appropriate academic standards, and provide students with the learning infrastructure and learning opportunities necessary to achieve those standards;
- the arrangements for the partnership will continue to enable the University to discharge its responsibilities for the academic standards of awards and the quality of the student learning experience.
Minor and significant changes
5. Minor changes to the partnership – such as those relating to staffing – may be made throughout the year and approved by the TEI (see our guidance on staff appointments). The University will retain oversight of such incremental changes through its monitoring and review processes. However, TEIs are welcome to contact the Common Awards Team for advice or support throughout the year.
6. More significant changes to the partnership – such as changes to the ownership, status, or composition of the TEI – will need to be reported to the University for consideration. Depending on the nature and scale of the change, the University may require additional information or (exceptionally) a formal partnership review process to assure itself of the areas listed in para. 4 (above). This will also provide an opportunity for the University to offer support to the TEI and, if necessary, to advise the TEI on the need to put in place appropriate contingency plans to protect the interests of students.
7. All partnership changes that require revisions to the Common Awards contractual relationships are deemed to be significant changes. This is particularly true of cases where a multi-centre TEI wishes to change its composition, as the Service Contract and/or the Standard Validation Contract will need to be amended.
8. All changes to the contracts (the Service Contract and the Standard Validation Contracts) must be approved by Ministry Division before the revised contracts can be issued for signature.
9. Partnership changes include, but are not limited to:
- changes in ownership or legal status of the TEI
- significant changes in the TEI’s financial standing
- changes to constituent delivery centres (or equivalent) in multi-centre TEIs, including:
- adding a new centre
- changing the title of an approved centre
- merging two or more approved centres
- incorporating or merging a new centre within an approved centre
- closing or removing an approved centre
- changes to relationships between constituent centres, where those changes alter the status of the TEI as a single legal entity
- changes to campuses or delivery sites, including:
- opening a new campus
- closing an approved campus
- changing the name of an approved campus
10. If a TEI is unsure of whether a partnership change is deemed to be ‘minor’ or ‘significant’, they should contact the Common Awards Team for advice as early as possible.
Approving significant changes
11. We will be taking a risk-based approach to ensure that the level of scrutiny is proportionate to the risk associated with the partnership change. For example, changing the name of a delivery centre or campus is likely to carry little (if any) risk to quality and standards; however, it is deemed to be a significant change as the University will need to amend the Service Contract (and potentially also the Standard Validation Contract) in order to ensure that contractual arrangements are current and valid. In contrast, the proposed closure of an approved delivery centre within a multi-centre TEI could carry substantial risk, and so is likely to require a much greater degree of scrutiny and a more comprehensive assessment of the impact of the proposed closure on the TEI and its students. Likewise, the proposal to introduce a new delivery centre (or similar) within a TEI is likely to require a due diligence process that might include a site visit.
12. Proposed and anticipated partnership changes should be processed as follows:
The TEI contacts the Common Awards Team to notify them of any imminent or anticipated change to the partnership. The Common Awards Team will offer advice and support in relation to the procedure for partnership changes.
To take place as soon as possible.
The TEI provides formal notification of the imminent or anticipated partnership change by completing and submitting the ‘Formal Notification of Partnership Changes’ form with the relevant supporting information.
To take place as soon as possible after the imminent or anticipated change is deemed to be a probable outcome
Consideration by Durham University
The ‘Formal Notification of Partnership Changes’ form and supporting information is considered by the Chair of the Management Board.
The Chair of the Management Board may seek the views of Ministry Division, external examiners or subject specialists, and other professional support services.
The potential outcomes of this consideration are:
Initial outcome of consideration to be provided normally within 10 working days of receipt of the ‘Notification of Partnership Changes Form’.
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