The Collaborations Manual has been designed as a resource for QMU's collaborative partners and for QMU staff who work with partners. It is intended to be an easily accessible source of information about the regulations, policies and procedures governing the organisation and management of collaborative programmes.

Suggestions on the future development of this site are welcome and should be submitted to Sheila Adamson, Partnership Development Manager.

Below you can find our Collaborations Manual and to the right you can find useful links to other areas of interest.


This Manual is aimed at all academic and administrative staff involved in developing and running collaborative programmes. Collaborative programmes are arrangements between QMU and a partner organisation whereby: 

  • Significant portions of teaching, assessment and student support are delegated to the partner organisation; and
  • Students receive an award or academic credit from Queen Margaret University.

This includes collaborative programmes leading to a named degree outcome and short programmes which consist of one or more modules.

The procedures within this Manual represent best practice and conform as far as possible to the QAA Quality Code. These procedures are designed to enable QMU to assure the quality and standards of awards granted in its name and to provide a high quality student experience. A key ingredient is close partnership working between QMU and partner organisations.

The Manual is structured into different sections based on the normal life cycle of a programme. Additional information is signposted in each section. At various points you will find links to the University’s Governance and Regulations for the definitive regulations.

We hope you will find the Manual useful and would welcome any comments or suggestions for improvement. If you would like to provide feedback, please contact Sheila Adamson, Partnership Development Manager.

Not included in this Manual

It is not within the scope of this Manual to advise on articulation or credit rating agreements.

There are various other ways that QMU staff might work with external partner organisations. This might include teaching on a course delivered by a partner, involvement in research projects, or the delivery of a consultancy service. None of these are classed as collaborations for the purposes of this Manual. The Research Grants and Contracts Unit (RGCU) should be approached for advice on such agreements.

Similarly, this Manual does not cover modules that are delivered by QMU for an external commissioning organisation. These are not classed as collaborations as teaching and assessment are not delegated. Again, RGCU should be approached for advice on costing and contracts.

General Information


QMU values collaboration as a key aspect of its academic strategy. The full University policy may be seen here: QMU policy on academic collaboration

There are a number of reasons why QMU enters into collaborative partnerships:

  • To reach groups of students who wouldn’t be able to come to the campus to study.
  • To share expertise and create programmes in specialist areas.
  • To support continuing professional development and lifelong learning.
  • To increase QMU’s profile around the world.

Partner organisations may want to work with us because:

  • They don’t have degree-awarding powers themselves but want to offer their students a qualification that will be internationally recognised.
  • They do have degree-awarding powers in their own country but want to offer a joint or dual award that is more easily transportable around the world.
  • They want to share their expertise with ours in order to deliver a degree that neither partner could fully support on its own.

Partnerships work best when both organisations gain something from the arrangement and have a shared commitment to providing a good learning experience that meets students’ needs.

Managing collaborations - overarching principles

The key principle of all regulations relating to collaborative programmes is that the quality and standards of awards should be equivalent to those of comparable awards delivered and awarded by QMU. This means that collaborative programmes are subject to the same quality assurance processes and the same academic regulations as awards delivered solely by the University. (Programme specific regulations may be approved through the validation process in the normal way.) In the case of short programmes, individual modules should be comparable to modules of a similar nature and level delivered solely by the University.

The nature of the student experience will vary from partner to partner but in all cases partners must provide support that is equivalent to that which students studying on campus might expect.

Each collaboration is governed by a Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Principal of Queen Margaret University and a representative from the partner institution. This is a legal document which sets out the rights and responsibilities of each partner institution. The Memorandum must be signed before delivery starts.

Because collaborative programmes are only indirectly controlled by the University, there is an element of risk in every collaborative arrangement. In most cases the risks are small and easily controlled through normal quality procedures. The University will conduct risk assessments for each partner and monitor risks on an ongoing basis. This allows the level of intervention from University staff to be proportionate and targeted where it is needed.

Any doubts cast on the quality and standards of an individual award may damage the reputation of other QMU awards. Therefore, for the benefit of all students and graduates, the University must make quality and standards a priority. If the University feels it is unable to guarantee the quality and standards of a collaborative programme it will not approve the arrangement, or may withdraw from an existing agreement.

Academic standards

Ultimate responsibility for the quality and standards of any programme or short programme offered in the name of Queen Margaret University lies with the Senate of the University.

No student may receive an award without the approval of Senate. This means that all marks must go through a formal Board of Examiners, which makes recommendations for award and submits them to Senate. Similarly, no decisions on student progress or whether or not a student should resit may be made without the approval of the Board of Examiners.



(See also the general glossary on the Quality website)

Quality assurance The mechanisms through which QMU ensures that the conditions are in place for students to achieve the appropriate academic standards for their level of study.  

Academic Link Person (ALP) Named contact person at the University, responsible for academic advice and support in relation to programme development and management.  
Annual Programme Monitoring The formal process by which QMU monitors all its programmes. Every year the Programme Leader is required to write a report for consideration by the relevant School, using a standard template provided by the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE).  
APCL / APEL Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning is the process by which students may be awarded credit for previous modules or degrees they have successfully completed. Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning is the process by which students may be awarded credit in recognition of learning achieved through experience, e.g. employment or voluntary work. (See RPL.)  
Articulation A formal credit-rating and transfer agreement between QMU and another institution, whereby QMU grants credit to applicants from a partner's programme and allows them to enter a related QMU programme with advanced standing. (e.g. an HNC at College A gives direct access to Year 2 of a QMU programme).  
Award A degree, diploma, certificate or other similar formal mark of recognition of successful completion of a programme of study. The standard awards used by QMU for taught programmes and criteria for eligibility are:
  • Higher Education Certificate - 120 credits at SCQF 7
  • Higher Education Diploma - 240 credits with at least 120 at SCQF 8
  • BA / BSc - 360 credits with at least 120 at SCQF 9
  • BA (Hons) / BSc (Hons) - 480 credits with at least 120 at SCQF 10
  • Graduate Certificate - 60-120 credits at SCQF 9 or 10
  • Graduate Diploma - 240 credits with at least 120 at SCQF 9 or 10
  • PgCert - 60 credits at SCQF 11
  • PgDip - 120 credits at SCQF 11
  • MA / MBA / MSc /Executive Masters - 180 credits at SCQF 11
Board of Examiners The committee with formal responsibility for confirming the provisional marks for each module, making decisions on the progression of individual students and making recommendations on final awards to Senate.  
Centre for Academic Practice (CAP) The department within the University responsible for staff development relating to learning, teaching and assessment.  
Collaborations Operations Group A sub-committee of the Student Experience Committee with a remit to promote best practice in relation to academic collaboration and to improve co-ordination between different parts of the University in relation to the collaborations support. All ALPs are members.  
CPD Continuing Professional Development. Usually used in reference to modules or programmes aligned to the needs of professionals wanting to update or upgrade their qualifications.
Credit rating A process by which an external organisation delivers a module or programme and QMU's only role is to confirm the equivalent credit value and level of the programme. The University does not award credit, and takes no role in assessment.  
Credits When a student passes a module they are awarded academic credit proportionate to the size of the module. One credit represents ten hours of student effort.  
Data Protection The General Data Protection Regulation (formerly the Data Protection Act 1998) governs the storage and use of information about individual people, to make sure personal data are kept securely and confidentially.  This applies to information held about staff, students, graduates and employer contacts.
Diet Assessment attempts are sometimes referred to as 'diets'. Students who have extenuating circumstances will often be allowed to retake an assessment 'as of the first diet', meaning it will count as their first attempt.  
Disability A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a student's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Includes mobility, sensory and learning difficulties.  
Dual award A specific type of joint programme, usually formed by combining two existing awards (one from each partner). Graduating students receive two certificates, one from QMU and one from the partner institution.  
Enhancement-led Institutional Review The process for formal review of each higher education institution in Scotland. Reports are published on the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) website.  
Equality and diversity Equality is about breaking down barriers, eliminating discrimination and ensuring equal access and opportunities. Diversity celebrates differences, both visible and invisible aspects, and values and harnesses individual potential. QMU aims to promote education for all students, whatever their background and seeks to create equal opportunities regardless of age, gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.  
European Diploma Supplement The European Diploma Supplement is added to the student transcript. It provides additional information to make it easier to compare qualifications from different countries.  
Extenuating circumstances   Circumstances beyond the student's control which prevent them from undertaking assessment at the set time or affect their performance in assessment. (For instance illness, bereavement or family crisis.)  
External Examiner An independent academic or professional subject specialist appointed to provide external scrutiny of marking and awards.  
Formative assessment Assessment undertaken purely to give feedback to students on how well they are doing and help them improve their performance. The mark does not count towards the student's final mark for the module.  
Franchising The process by which QMU agrees to authorise the delivery of the whole or part of one of our programmes by a partner organisation. A franchised programme must be identical to the programme offered in Edinburgh, and so any changes to the home programme must be implemented in the franchise.  
Full Economic Cost (FEC)     QMU uses a full economic costing model to determine the cost of developing and running collaborative programmes. Full economic cost includes all staff costs, non-staff costs, directly allocated estates costs and indirect costs.
Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE) The division of the University Secretary's Group which is responsible for developing and implementing the University's quality assurance procedures and co-ordinating compliance with governance expectations. GQE also provides administrative support for research degrees. The division provides secretariat for most University committees and assists with the development of academic policies and regulations. GQE staff are your first point of contact for advice on regulations or procedures.
Hub A web-based system of supporting learning. It can be used to deliver a course by distance learning or to complement face-to-face teaching.
Joint Board of Studies The committee at which staff of the partner institution and staff of QMU meet to discuss operation of the collaboration.  
Joint programme A programme designed and/or delivered and/or assessed by the staff of QMU and one or more partner institutions, where the award is jointly conferred by Queen Margaret University and the partner institution(s). Quality assurance procedures will be conducted by both QMU and the partner institution(s). Sometimes, one university will delegate authority over certain aspects of quality assurance to the other (known as the 'administering university').  
Learning Resource Centre (LRC) The LRC at the QMU campus provides electronic and physical access to Library and IT facilities and services. The level of access for students on collaborative programmes is recorded in the Memorandum of Agreement.  
Local support centre   An organisation that may provide services to support Queen Margaret University awards delivered by distance learning. A Local Support Centre Service Agreement is required.  
Marking criteria A detailed breakdown of how marks are awarded for a particular assignment. This enables students and others to understand the reasons for the mark awarded. Marking criteria should relate to the Learning Outcomes.
Matriculation The process whereby students formally register on a course and agree to be bound by the University terms and conditions. Students who have not matriculated will not appear on the student record system (SITS), will not get access the Hub or the library and will not be able to have marks processed at the Board of Examiners.  
Memorandum of Agreement The formal legal contract between QMU and the partner institution. This sets out what each partner's obligations are to the other.  
Memorandum of Understanding A statement that two partners intend to co-operate. This is not a legal contract and doesn't commit the partners to anything.
Moderation The process of confirming the consistency of the mark and feedback provided by the original marker(s)  
Module A self-contained unit of study leading to the award of academic credit. A module may form part of a programme or may be studied on its own. The University recommends that modules should be worth 20 credits or multiples of 20; some postgraduate modules may be 15 credits or multiples of 15.  
Module evaluation Towards the end of each module, the module co-ordinator should seek student feedback through a standardised module evaluation form. This helps to identify any improvements that can be made for the next time the module is run.
Partner institution The term used to describe an institution or other body with which Queen Margaret University enters into an agreement to collaborate.  
Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) A member of academic staff appointed as a point of contact and advice for each student on all matters relating to academic progress.
Plagiarism The use of another person's words or ideas as if they were the writer's own. See: for a full definition of different types of plagiarism, collusion and poor academic practice.
Portfolio Development Group The group of senior managers and other key staff who review new programme proposals and decide on behalf of the University whether they can proceed to validation.  
Programme The approved curriculum followed by a registered student. Normally a programme will lead to an award, but in the case of short programmes (see definition below) the student may complete the programme without gaining enough credit for a named award.  
Programme Approval Form   The paperwork submitted to the University for approval in principle of a proposed new programme. The form is completed in three stages. (See Programme development, monitoring and review)
Programme Committee The committee responsible for overseeing the quality of the programme and making formal joint decisions about its direction.  
Programme Leader The academic staff member with responsibility for the day-to-day management of the programme.  
Programme specification A document summarising the key information about a programme. A Programme Specification is required for each programme leading to an award from QMU.  
Programme Team The group of academic staff responsible for the overall operation and academic standards of the programme within defined policies, procedures and regulations.  
QAA The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education is an independent body which safeguards the public interest in the standards of UK higher education. The QAA undertakes periodic audits and publishes guidance for institutions, most notably the UK Quality Code. See: for full details of the QAA's work.  
Quality assurance / Quality enhancement

Quality Assurance: mechanisms through which QMU ensures that the conditions are in place for students to achieve the appropriate academic standards for their level of study.  

Quality Enhancement: the process of continuous improvement of educational provision, through reflection, innovation and sharing of best practice.  
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is the process by which the University assesses individuals' learning and/or experience to give academic credit. Credit is given only where there is evidence that the experience or learning has resulted in the student achieving the appropriate and clearly expressed learning outcomes. (See also APCL / APEL)  
Remote Access The system whereby staff and students can use the University's IT systems from any location (through using Citrix technology).  
Repeat If a student fails a module both at the first attempt and at retrieval (see below) they will normally be offered the chance to retake the entire module again. This means retaking all assessments (even those which they passed the first time). Normally, students who are repeating a module will be expected to attend classes.  
Retrieval If a student fails an assessment at the first attempt they will normally be offered the chance to 'retrieve', i.e. re-attempt the part(s) of the module assessment which they failed.  
Review The formal process whereby QMU reviews the effectiveness of a programme which has reached the end of its approval period (normally five years). Normally when a programme is reviewed it is simultaneously put forward for re-validation, often with modifications in the light of the experience of the previous few years.  
Risk assessment This process is required for all collaborative partners. This allows the University to intervene proactively if risks increase or are not satisfactorily controlled.
School Academically, QMU is divided into two Schools: Arts, Social Sciences and Management and Health Sciences. Each School is headed by a Dean who is responsible for the School's academic strategy.  
School Academic Board The committee that oversees the quality of individual programmes within each School. Responsible for approving changes to modules or programme specific regulations.
School Office The group of administrative staff responsible for supporting day-to-day administration of the School's programmes.  
SCQF The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework is the single unified framework for all nationally recognised qualifications in Scotland. This is the Framework which defines the different levels of study. All programmes and short programmes must be benchmarked against SCQF criteria. See:  
Senate The senior academic committee of the University, with ultimate authority over all aspects of academic policy and degree awards.
Short Programme One or more credit rated modules, grouped together for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) or for general education purposes, which do not, in themselves, lead to an award or recordable qualification of Queen Margaret University.  
SITS The University's student records system.
Student Experience Strategy The University's over-arching strategy for enhancing the student experience, including learning, teaching and assessment; employability; and student support. 
Student Portal A section of the QMU website that allows students to matriculate online, update their name and address details and view their marks. Students need to know their QMU student number and password to log on.
Student Staff Consultative Committee (SSCC)   Committee giving students the opportunity to raise issues regarding the programme. Should have more student members than staff and students should set the agenda.  
Summative assessment Assessment which counts towards the student's final mark for the module.  
Transcript A summary of student achievement, including all modules passed each year.
The University Secretary's Group Three divisions which deal with the central administration of QMU's academic activities. Collectively, these areas may be referred to as 'Registry'. The three divisions are: (1) Registry and Academic Administration (student records, matriculation, graduation, exams, School Office); (2) Governance and Quality Enhancement (see above); and (3) External Liaison and Student Services (recruitment and admissions, widening participation, international student support and student services).  
Validation The formal process whereby QMU approves a programme to be delivered for an agreed length of time (normally five years).  
Validated Programme A programme designed and/or delivered and/or assessed by the staff of QMU in partnership with one or more institution. Unlike a franchise programme, the curriculum is not a direct copy of a QMU degree.  

Categories of collaboration

There are various categories of collaborative arrangement and terminology varies. Within QMU, the definitions below are used. These definitions take into account recent QAA guidance on Qualifications involving more than one awarding body (October 2015).

Each collaborative arrangement is unique and not every partnership falls neatly into these categories. Variation is perfectly allowable within QMU’s regulations. The key points to remember are:

  • The requirements of any local government or regulatory bodies must be met. (Eg, in Singapore, programmes and their management arrangements must meet the requirements of the Council for Private Education.)
  • Programme management arrangements must be proportionate to the likely level of risk to quality and standards.

Types of collaboration (full programmes):

  1. Franchise The partner institution delivers a copy of an existing QMU degree. Some slight variation may be allowed to fit the local context, but only in respect of elective modules, not the core content. Students will undertake the same assessments as those in the QMU delivered modules. If the parent programme changes, the franchised programme must change too. The degree is awarded by QMU alone as the partner doesn’t have its own degree-awarding powers.
  2. Validation. A degree is developed to suit the needs of the partner institution. It may be based on QMU modules or entirely made up of new modules. QMU may or may not offer the same award internally (but must have the academic expertise to support it). Assessments are set by the partner institution with advice from QMU (and the external examiner). The degree is awarded by QMU alone as the partner doesn’t have its own degree-awarding powers.
  3. Joint award. A degree is developed jointly by QMU and a partner with its own degree-awarding powers. Normally, teaching will be shared between the two institutions. A single certificate is awarded with the names of both partners on it.

    For partnerships that involve three or more partners with degree awarding powers, agreement will be reached as to which partner issues the certificate and how the contribution of the other partners is acknowledged in either the certificate or the transcript.

  4. Double / multiple award. This is the same as a joint award but covers situations where one of the partners is unable constitutionally to award a joint degree. Instead each institution grants the degree but there is a note on the certificate or transcript explaining the nature of the relationship with the other partner’s award. Erasmus degrees may take this form. Some ‘twinning’ arrangements may also be classed as double degrees, where the partner institution delivers all teaching and has its own degree-awarding powers, but QMU validation is sought to give the qualification greater international recognition.
  5. Dual award. These are hybrid awards involving elements of each institution’s degree. They may be developed by two institutions agreeing to accept credit from the other partner’s modules towards their own award. Typically students will spend periods of study at each partner institution. They must meet the requirements of each separate award (although usually this will be done partly by credit transfer). Each partner is responsible for its own award and each certificate is awarded separately. The benefit of the arrangement is that students should be able to achieve both awards in less time than if they had studied each separately. This type of arrangement may be appropriate, for instance, where one partner offers a one-year Masters and the other offers a two-year programme.
  6. Concurrent award. This is a variant of a franchised or validated programme that occurs when the partner institution has its own degree-awarding powers. Students undertake the UK university’s curriculum and satisfy all the requirements for the UK degree. The partner institution also awards a degree. Certificates / transcripts must make clear the nature of the relationship. Degrees of this nature might be offered as what is sometimes referred to as a ‘twinning’ arrangement. This refers to arrangements whereby the overseas partner delivers and quality assures the early years of the programme itself. The UK university agrees to grant RPL and accepts students direct into the later years of the programme, which are designed and quality assured by the UK partner. Graduates receive awards from both partners.

Other types of collaboration:

  1. Short programme

    Collaborative partners may be approved to deliver individual modules or a small number of modules that do not lead to a formal award.

  2. Credit rating

    An external organisation delivers a module or programme and QMU’s only role is to confirm the equivalent credit value and level of the programme. The University does not award credit, and takes no role in assessment.

  3. Articulation

    QMU grants credit to applicants from a partner's programme and allows them to enter a related QMU programme with advanced standing.

Key features of different types of collaboration

Type of collaboration Awarded by Delivered by Key features
Franchise QMU only Partner Copy of QMU degree. If the parent programme changes, the franchised programme must change too.
Validated QMU only Partner Doesn't need to be a copy of a QMU degree.
Joint Both partners QMU and partner Graduates receive one certificate from both partners.
Double / multiple Both / all partners QMU and partner(s) Graduates receive a certificate from each partner. The degree title is the same. Transcripts must clarify the nature of the multiple award.
Dual Both partners QMU and partner Graduates receive a certificate from each partner. The degree title may be different. Credits from each partner's award are used towards the other's award. Transcripts must clarify the nature of the relationship.
Concurrent Both partners Partner Graduates receive a certificate from each partner. The degree title is the same. Transcripts must clarify the nature of the award.
Twinning Both partners Partner QMU may take responsibility for only the later levels of the programme. Graduates receive a certificate from each partner. The degree title is the same. Transcripts must clarify the nature of the award.

Selection of Partners

Setting up a new partnership can be risky. It is crucial to establish that the partner organisation has the capacity to deliver the programme effectively and support students. Equally, partners need to be sure that QMU can provide what they need. For this reason there is a thorough process in place to select and approve potential new partners.

The process aims to establish that the new partner meets QMU’s selection principles, which cover all aspects of the organisation’s experience, facilities, academic, legal and financial standing; the benefits to the University; and the alignment with QMU’s overall mission.

In selecting a new partner, QMU must be satisfied that:

  • the activities of the proposed collaboration provide a close fit with the vision and strategic plan of QMU and with the operational plan of the School;
  • the proposed collaboration contributes to strategic targets related to academic provision, research or knowledge transfer;
  • the proposed collaboration has been incorporated into the operational plan of the relevant School;
  • the discipline or subject area of the proposed collaboration falls within QMU’s current or developing areas of expertise;
  • the educational mission and aims of the partner are consonant with those of QMU;
  • the partner is of good academic standing and financially stable;
  • the partner is in a position to contract legally with the University;
  • the partner institution has robust and complementary systems of academic regulations, quality assurance and staffing policies;
  • the expectations and requirements of both QMU and the proposed partner are clearly demonstrated;
  • the collaborative programme can be delivered on the basis of an income stream that supports full-economic costs.

Responsibility for approving new partners lies with the Portfolio Development Group (PDG), which is made up of senior managers and staff with relevant expertise in partnerships, quality and student recruitment. PDG will receive evidence about the partner’s suitability and make a judgement accordingly. If some of the selection principles are not fully met the partnership might be approved but on the basis that steps were taken to address any issues. For example, a partner might need to improve its ICT infrastructure, or agree to adapt its quality assurance procedures to fit with QMU expectations.

Some important considerations to note include:

  • QMU will NOT enter into serial collaborations, i.e. collaborative arrangements with a partner institution which, in turn, franchises the QMU programme to third parties. There must always be a direct relationship between QMU and the team delivering the QMU programme, so that QMU can retain control over the academic standards of its awards.
  • For overseas partners, the arrangement must comply with local laws governing transnational education. In particular, QMU will need to be satisfied that graduates’ awards will be recognised.
  • QMU cannot support partnerships in areas that are too far removed from the subjects we teach. This is because our staff will need to be in a position to confirm that the academic content of the programme is appropriate and will need to be able to check marking standards by reading student work.
  • For a similar reason, we don’t consider new partners who are not prepared to teach and assess in English. It is very difficult for us to perform our quality assurance duties rigorously unless everything is in English. (Exceptions may be made for existing partners with a strong academic track record.)

At an early stage all prospective partner institutions should be given full advice about the process of setting up a collaborative agreement, the documentation that will be required and likely costs. Staff from Governance and Quality Enhancement will be happy to talk to potential partners and give them access to this Manual. Partners will be given clear guidance on what QMU expects from them so that they can decide whether collaboration is something they want to pursue.

There are a number of documents and sources of evidence that the University will need to see. This is known as ‘due diligence’. Staff of Governance and Quality Enhancement will liaise with the partner about this.

Before entering into a partnership with a new partner organisation, QMU will normally need to see the following information. The exact detail of what is required will vary depending on the status of the partner. For example, public sector organisations in the UK will not normally need to supply this level of detail.


  • Copies of documents certifying the organisation’s legal status (company / charity, legal name, ability to contract)
  • Certification of right to operate as a tertiary education provider

Governance and academic

  • Information about management structures and governance procedures
  • Identity of owners
  • Information about quality assurance procedures, student policies (complaints / discipline / appeals / equality)


  • Copies of accounts for last two years
  • Insurance statements (public liability insurance)

Other partners

  • Statements from other degree-awarding institutions who have worked with the organisation

A step-by-step guide to the process for evaluation and selection of new partners is set out in these sections:

  • Setting up a new full programme
  • Setting up a new short programme
  • Approving a new local support centre

Setting Up a New Full Programme

Detail of the approval procedure is set out below. For a visual summary of the procedure see Diagram 1.


  1. Initial enquiries and support of Dean
  2. Portfolio Development Group approval (Stage 1)
  3. Site visit, due diligence and evaluation report
  4. Costing
  5. Portfolio Development Group approval (Stage 2)
  6. Negotiation of price
  7. School Academic Board approval (Stage 3)
  8. Validation
  9. Memorandum of Agreement
  10. Variations for established partners

1 Initial enquiries and support of Dean

Academic collaborations may come about through different routes. Normally, enquiries will be directed through the Partnership Development Manager (PDM). The PDM will consult any specific criteria set by Deans of School and University committees as well as the over-arching selection principles listed under selection of partners. Enquiries which appear to meet the criteria will be forwarded to the Dean for consideration.

Members of staff who have a proposal for a collaborative programme should consult the PDM in the first instance. The PDM will advise on whether the proposal seems viable and will indicate what additional information might be useful in allowing the Dean to decide whether to pursue the idea further. The proposal (with relevant information) should then be passed to the Dean of School and Head of Division. 

The Dean of School will consider the proposal and confirm whether it fits with School and Institutional Strategic Plans. If the Dean wishes to pursue the proposal, he or she will approve it in principle, include it in the School Strategic Plan and report it to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE). Some of the reasons that the Dean might not want to pursue a partnership include:

  • The subject lies too far outside QMU’s expertise.
  • There isn’t enough staff capacity to take on a new project.
  • The programme conflicts with another partnership or a QMU award.
  • It doesn’t fit with the School Operational Plan and / or the institutional strategy.

Deans will be most interested in proposals which:

  • come from organisations with a strong reputation;
  • fit well with the School’s portfolio and research and knowledge exchange interests;
  • provide the opportunity to increase student numbers;
  • are well-researched and meet a genuine educational need.

2 Initial investigations

Portfolio Development Group approval (Stage 1)

Approval in principle enables the start of investigation of the proposal’s viability. It is essential that the proposal is reported to GQE at this point. The Assistant Secretary, Quality Enhancement is secretary to the Portfolio Development Group and will advise on what paperwork needs to be supplied. GQE staff can also provide general advice on the approval process, quality assurance arrangements, validation process and the development of the Memorandum of Agreement.

The Dean will identify a provisional Academic Link Person (ALP) to meet with the partner organisation and explore their needs. The Academic Link Person will act as project manager and should liaise with the partner institution and relevant support departments within QMU from an early stage. Similarly, the partner institution should identify a Programme Leader who will be the key contact with QMU.

The first step is to find out exactly what type of collaboration the partner is looking for and whether this proposal is realistic and appropriate. The Partnership Development Manager (PDM) is happy to be present at discussions to explain the options and the quality assurance implications of each. There will also need to be some discussion at this stage about the programme aims, market and appropriate academic level for the programme.

It is important to give partners a realistic sense of the timescale between initial discussions and full approval. The process may take up to a year – longer if the programme is being designed from scratch.

Once it is known exactly what type of collaboration the partner is interested in, the ALP should contact the PDM for advice on illustrative examples of price for this type of proposal. A broad indication of price should allow QMU and the partner institution to determine at an early stage whether or not the collaboration is likely to be financially viable. However, it must be stressed that any price quoted before detailed costings have been undertaken is only a rough guide. Prices may rise once more information is known.

The PDM will also conduct basic enquiries regarding the partner and may approach the British Council for advice regarding overseas organisations.

Assuming the partner is happy with the approximate price, Stage 1 of the programme approval form. should be completed. (Note that there is a specific version of this form for collaborative programmes.) This form is normally completed by the ALP with assistance from the PDM. Please note that partners should not complete this paperwork themselves, although they may provide some of the information that goes into it.

The form should be submitted to the Assistant Secretary, Governance & Quality Enhancement for consideration by the Portfolio Development Group (PDG). The PDG will either approve the proposal to move to Stage 2, reject the proposal or request further information.

Detailed planning cannot proceed until Stage 1 approval has been obtained.


3 Site visit, due diligence and evaluation report

Once Stage 1 approval is granted, the PDG will nominate a member of staff to conduct a site visit. Normally the site report will be compiled by somebody outside the host School unless the PDG approves an alternative arrangement. The site visit may be waived if the School can demonstrate that there is substantial information available to the University that would make such a visit unnecessary (for example existing reports from other independent bodies, such as the British Council or accrediting organisations). Note that no additional report is required for a new programme with an existing partner, unless the programme requires specialist facilities or a substantial increase in learning and teaching capacity (including information technology infrastructure).

A site visit report will be completed, commenting on the facilities available at the partner organisation to support learning. This report should be passed to GQE.

At the same time, the PDM will be collecting information required for due diligence checks. This means seeking evidence from reliable sources as to the proposed partner institution’s strategic direction and financial security. For this reason, partners will be asked to provide copies of their most recent accounts. This information will be viewed only by the PDM and Head of Finance and then destroyed.

The PDM will also seek confirmation of the partner’s legal status, their ability to contract in law and their status within their own higher education system. Some countries have specific laws relating to the recognition of overseas qualifications which may affect potential collaborations. The risk assessment also has to take into account practical considerations such as how easy it is to travel to the partner, safety and security issues and political stability.

Once all the above information has been collated, a member of staff from GQE will then work with the Academic Link Person to complete the Risk Assessment and Evaluation Report. The form asks a number of specific questions and asks for risks to be graded by both likelihood and severity of impact. GQE will provide advice to ensure consistency of approach.

Where a high risk is identified it is important to include proposed measures to reduce or control the risk. For instance, if poor English language skills are a likely barrier to student achievement, the control measures might include setting a rigorous minimum level of English for entry or putting in place additional English classes.

The Risk Assessment and Evaluation Report is submitted to the PDG together with the site visit report and any supporting evidence for Stage 2 approval.

4 Costing

Stage 2 is where the PDG makes the strategic decision whether, from a business point of view, the programme should be allowed to proceed. After this point, the process becomes a matter of consideration of the academic merits of the planned programme.

In order to make this decision, the PDG requires detailed information on the potential risks and benefits of the proposal. A key element of this is the likely income the programme may generate versus the costs to the University. Therefore, before the Stage 2 form is submitted a full costing must be undertaken.

The ALP should meet with the PDM to work through the likely time commitments from QMU staff required to run the partnership successfully. This includes both academic staff and staff in the various support departments who deal with different aspects of the student journey. Non-staff costs such as travel, accommodation and library resources must also be considered.

It is essential that all relevant support departments are considered in relation to the possible resource needs of the programme. If the partnership is going to require additional support beyond the normal threshold levels, then the relevant departments must be consulted.

Particular points to note are:

  • Different programmes may require different levels of library access. Discuss whether students are likely to attend the library in person. Discuss whether there is any requirement for additional texts or journals to be purchased and who will meet this cost.
  • The majority of partners require at least some staff development to make sure there is a shared understanding of procedures, learning and teaching approaches and marking standards. Different partners may have different staff development needs. Find out how many of the partner organisation’s staff have taught at the same level as the proposed programme. Will they need additional input from QMU prior to delivering the programme? The level of input from the Centre for Academic Practice must be included in the price.
  • If the Hub is to be used to support delivery check whether the partner organisation has the infrastructure and the experience to support this. Will specific staff development be required?
  • Normally students from partner organisations do not have access to QMU Student Services. Check whether the partner is able to provide sufficient support for students themselves.
  • Some locally based partners may want to bring students in to the University for an induction day. If library or Effective Learning Services staff are to be asked to contribute to this, make sure the costs are included.
  • It is required that QMU staff moderate a sample of assessments to ensure consistency of marking standards for at least the first iteration of each module. Where staff in the partner organisation are not highly experienced in marking academic work it may be appropriate for additional moderation or even double marking to be provided. Time for this should be costed in.
  • Where the language of assessment is not English, consider whether there is any need for course materials or student work to be translated. This may entail extra costs.

The costing must include all the above information so that the School is not hit with any ‘surprise’ costs once the collaboration is in operation. It is also important for the partner institution to know from the outset what services are being provided under the Memorandum of Agreement.

The PDM will undertake a formal costing exercise using the University’s costing software (pFACT). The ALP, Head of Division and Dean must sign off the costing on the system.

5 Portfolio Development Group approval (Stage 2)

The ALP and PDM should complete Stage 2 of the programme approval form and submit it to the Secretary to the PDG, along with the following documents:

  • Risk Assessment
  • Site visit report
  • Costing
  • Any other supporting evidence

The PDG will need evidence of demand for the programme, in order to assess whether it is likely to be financially viable. The partner should be able to provide evidence in this respect. This might take the form of numbers of applications for similar programmes run by the partner in the past, analysis of competitor programmes, or support statements from employers.

The PDG will either approve the proposal to move to Stage 2, reject the proposal or request further information. Firm negotiations with the partner cannot proceed until Stage 2 approval has been obtained.

Following Stage 2 approval, a provisional date for validation will be set.

6 Negotiation of price

Once Stage 2 approval has been granted, the Dean may enter into negotiations with the partner regarding the price.

It is standard practice for fee arrangements to include a minimum fixed price to ensure that QMU is not significantly disadvantaged by unexpectedly low student recruitment. Partners should be aware that the bulk of QMU’s costs in supporting a collaborative programme are fixed and do not vary depending on the number of students. (For example holding exam boards and joint boards of studies, providing staff development, paying external examiners, providing on-going academic advice etc).

7 School Academic Board approval (Stage 3)

The next stage is to share the proposal with the School Academic Board. This enables the School to consider the implications for other programmes and to identify any opportunities for links or cross-teaching. The School Academic Board will also consider an overview of the programme structure to confirm it is appropriate for its academic aims. Stage 3 scrutiny is an opportunity for School colleagues to highlight important issues that may need to be addressed before the programme proceeds to validation.

The ALP should work with the Programme Leader at the partner institution to agree the overall shape of the programme. The Stage 3 programme approval form asks for the following information:

  • Philosophy and aims
  • Outline structure (number of modules, core or elective, new or existing)
  • General learning, teaching and assessment strategy (including proposed delivery methods, balance of theory and practice, use of the Hub etc)
  • Placement arrangements (if applicable)

Once the School Academic Board has approved the proposal it recommends it to Senate through its minutes. Validation arrangements may now be finalised. The programme may be advertised to potential applicants but it should be made clear at this stage that it is still "subject to validation".

8 Validation

Validation is the process by which the University approves a programme to be delivered (for an agreed length of time – normally five years). This involves scrutiny of programme documentation by a group of academic staff and discussion with the programme team.

The overall aim of the validation process is to make sure that students studying for awards of Queen Margaret University will have a good academic experience. The procedures and practices adopted for the planning and approval of collaborative provision are those established by the Senate for all Queen Margaret University awards.

A programme planning team should be set up, consisting of staff from the partner institution and QMU. The following documents must be provided:

  • Validation document (also know as a programme document) – a factual and descriptive account of what is covered by the programme, how it will be taught and how it will be managed.
  • Programme specification – a summary of the key details about the programme
  • Student handbook – the handbook that will be provided to students to tell them what they need to know about the programme.
  • CVs of staff teaching and assessing the programme.
  • Placement handbooks (if applicable)

Detailed information on the validation process can be found in the Validation and Review Guidance Notes for Programme Teams. However, the following checklist indicates the key points that should be covered in developing the programme:

  • programme title and final award (or awards – what subsidiary awards will be available to students who don’t complete the full programme?)
  • length of programme (minimum and maximum time it will take to complete)
  • mode of attendance (full-time, part-time, distance learning, block release)
  • language of tuition and assessment (which will normally be English)
  • intended student numbers (maximum and minimum)
  • any relationship or overlap with existing programmes in Queen Margaret University or the partner institution (e.g. will students who complete the programme be eligible for direct entry to a QMU programme?)
  • arrangements for placements (if required)
  • professional requirements (if applicable)
  • aims and outcomes
  • market research (needs of students and employers)
  • admission criteria and any arrangements for admission with advanced standing or exemptions (note that entrance requirements must be equivalent to the requirements for entry into similar programmes delivered at QMU)
  • programme structure, core modules and prerequisites
  • regulations for assessment, progress and award
  • assessment formats and assessment schedule
  • curriculum
  • teaching and learning methods
  • module descriptors
  • student support mechanisms available at the partner institution
  • programme management and quality assurance arrangements (as they will operate at the partner institution)
  • arrangements for promoting equality and diversity within local cultural expectations and legal requirements

The Centre for Academic Practice can offer advice on preparing the documentation. This will be as standard for all QMU validations, but it must also make clear how administrative and programme management procedures will operate at the partner institution. Note that it is not necessary for partners to have identical student support procedures to QMU, only for their processes to be equivalent. Statements about communication between partners and arrangements for quality assurance should be included.

In the case of franchised programmes (see Categories of Collaboration), much of the documentation will be supplied by QMU. However, is essential that the partner contributes information about the learning environment they will provide. Particular attention should be paid to student support and programme management, which may vary from partner to partner.

All documentation must be submitted to the Academic Link Person no later than eight weeks before the validation. This allows time for comment and amendment before submitting the final documents to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement four weeks before the validation.

The validation event will usually be held in the partner institution, especially for programmes which require the use of specialist equipment or facilities. This allows for a thorough scrutiny of the partner organisation’s resources, facilities, staff, traditions, ethos, and academic and non-academic capacity.

The panel will consist of representatives of Queen Margaret University and external experts. It is up to the programme planning team to nominate suitable external members of the panel, subject to approval by QMU. See Validation and Review Guidance Notes for Programme Teams for more information.

The Secretary to the panel will normally be a member of the staff of the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement. For programmes accredited by professional bodies joint validations may be held, in which case staff from the professional body will be in attendance.

Prior to the event the panel will read the documentation and will highlight to the Secretary any issues they wish to raise with the team. The Secretary will pass this information to the team to help them prepare for the event.

As many of the programme team as possible should be present for the event, which normally lasts a full day. Key administrative staff may also attend. Much of the day will be taken up with private meetings of the panel and tours of facilities, but the team should expect to spend between two and three hours discussing the programme with the panel. This discussion, which is intended to be constructive, will allow the panel to explore with the team issues that require further clarification.

Even if the modules and / or entire programme have been designed by QMU, the panel will want to explore the programme team’s understanding of the aims and philosophy of the programme. This will help them to judge how ready the team are to deliver the programme effectively.

Validation outcomes

Following the detailed scrutiny of the documentation and the discussion held with the programme team, the panel will make recommendations to Senate, via the Learning and Teaching Panel of the Student Experience Committee.

The panel may make one of three recommendations:

  • that the programme be validated;
  • that the programme be validated, subject to conditions (all conditions must be satisfied before the programme can be considered approved)
  • that the programme be not validated.

In addition, the panel will specify the approval period, which will normally be five years.

Exceptionally, for example where it is thought that substantial changes may be required within five years (e.g. where there are likely to be rapid advances in the subject area), the panel may recommend a shorter period of validation. The reasons for any period of validation shorter than the usual five years need to be very clearly justified in the report of the validation event.

The team’s response to conditions of validation must be submitted, in writing, to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement no later than the date specified at the event. The response should include a cover page, quoting each of the conditions, followed by an indication of how this has been met, plus any supporting documentation required by the panel. Whilst recommendations are advisory rather than mandatory, it is good practice to provide an account of any action taken in response to recommendations. This should be submitted to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement at the same time as the response to conditions.

The Secretary to the event is responsible for forwarding the response to members of the panel and professional body representatives as appropriate. Once the panel has approved the response to conditions the programme leader receives written notification of this from the event Secretary.


Following approval of the response to conditions, the programme team must supply the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement with the finalised programme document and programme specification. These documents will be the official agreed programme for the next five years. Details of modules or programme specific regulations may only be changed through the committee mechanisms set out later in this manual. (See Joint Boards of Studies and Committees.)

9 Development of Memorandum of Agreement

While programme planning is going on, consideration should be given to operational issues and defining procedures for programme management and quality assurance. A Memorandum of Agreement must be negotiated to cover these points. The Memorandum will be drafted by staff in the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement. The Memorandum forms the legal contract between QMU and the partner institution and should state clearly the respective responsibilities of both parties. The Memorandum must be drafted prior to validation; and signed by the Principal of Queen Margaret University and a nominated representative of the partner institution before the programme starts.

The Memorandum of Agreement includes a Financial Appendix which sets out the terms of the financial agreement between QMU and the partner institution. Finances should be negotiated by the Dean of School (or nominee) with assistance from the Partnership Development Manager. International partners who operate more than one QMU programme will be considered as ‘corporate partners’ and negotiations will include the Deputy Principal. The Financial Appendix will be drafted by the Partnership Development Manager. The Dean of School is responsible for final approval of the price, taking advice as required, and in accordance with normal authorisation procedures.

An example of a Memorandum of Agreement is available from the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement. The Memorandum must normally include details of:

  • the scope and limit of the collaborative arrangements;
  • financial arrangements;
  • the responsibilities of all parties, including those concerning: the admission and progression of students; student assessment; conferment of awards and issuing of certificates;
  • number of exam boards and Joint Boards of Studies per year;
  • quality assurance procedures, including those relating to: programme development, monitoring and review; committee structures; appointment and remuneration of the external examiner/s;
  • level of student access to Library and IT services;
  • arrangements for staff development;
  • ownership of copyright and intellectual property;
  • rules concerning information, publicity, public relations and promotion of the collaborative link by the partner institution;
  • explicit procedures for the resolution of any difficulties between the signatories, including the legal jurisdiction under which the agreement may be enforced;
  • provisions for suspension or withdrawal in the event of either party failing its obligations;
  • strategies for supporting students in the event of termination

Procedures set out in the validation documentation must align with those in the Memorandum.

Arrangements for the termination of a collaborative agreement by either party must take account of the need to provide for the interests of continuing students registered on the programme concerned. Normally both partners will be responsible for ensuring that existing students have the opportunity to complete their programme.

10 Variations for established partners

The procedure above is the same for new programmes with an existing partner, apart from the initial stages. Partners who deliver (or wish to deliver) more than one programme with the University shall be treated as corporate partners and discussions about new developments may be channelled through the Dean with corporate responsibility for collaborations.

Normally, no additional site visit is required, but a programme specific risk assessment must be completed. If the programme needs specialist facilities (eg a laboratory or specialist equipment), some form of evidence will be required to demonstrate that suitable resources are in place.

No additional due diligence will be required for new programmes with an existing partner.

Normally there will not need to be a fresh Memorandum of Agreement. A Supplementary Agreement will be signed which extends the original agreement to include the new programme and sets out any revision to financial arrangements.

A full validation will normally still be required. It may be that a partner wants to run an existing programme at a new site. In this case the purpose of the validation would be to confirm that the same standard of facilities and student support would be available at the new site, and to confirm that the new teaching team were able to deliver the programme effectively.

Setting Up a New Short Programme


A Short Programme is one or more credit rated modules, grouped together for Continual Professional Development (CPD) or for general education purposes, which do not, in themselves, lead to an award or recordable qualification of Queen Margaret University. Short Programmes typically comprise one or more modules at SCQF level seven or above, usually up to a maximum of 60 credits.

Although in some cases credit from short programmes may be used towards another QMU award, these programmes normally stand outside validated programmes and are taken by students as a self-contained package of learning for their own personal or professional development.

Approval procedures for collaborative short programmes are similar to those for full programmes but there are some differences because of the smaller scale of the award. As with full collaborative programmes, there are two elements to the process: (1) approval of the partner organisation and strategic business case; and (2) academic approval of the programme.

New short programmes with new partners must come to the Portfolio Development Group first. The paperwork to be provided to PDG is:

  • Short Programme Approval form
  • Risk assessment
  • Information on costing and likely income

The requirement for a site visit will be considered on a case to case basis. The type of evidence required will be based on the University’s prior experience of the partner organisation, the number of modules for which approval is sought and level of risk.

As with full programmes, proposals must first gain the support of the Dean and an Academic Link Person (ALP) must be appointed. The ALP should work with staff of Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE) to prepare the documents for PDG. GQE staff will prepare the costing, which must be approved through pFACT.

Once PDG grants approval for the programme and the partner, the proposal proceeds to the School Academic Board for academic approval. No validation event is required, unless there are special reasons for holding one – eg to align with PSB approval processes.

The following documentation is submitted to the School Academic Board:

  • Short Programme Approval Form
  • Risk assessment
  • Statement on arrangements for management of the collaboration
  • CVs of teaching staff
  • Module descriptor(s)

Contact the partnerships team within Governance and Quality Enhancement for assistance with these forms.

For groups of modules a Programme Specification that sets out the overall aims and outcomes of the short programme may also be appropriate – guidance on this is available from Governance and Quality Enhancement.

The School Academic Board will normally appoint two to three scrutineers to read the documentation in detail on behalf of the Board. The Board may request changes to the module descriptors and/or Programme Specification before the Short Programme can be approved. Following approval, the module descriptor(s) should be passed to Student Records for entry onto SITS. A Memorandum of Agreement will be required before the short programme can start.


  1. Initial enquiry discussed with Dean, for confirmation of support.
  2. Initial exploratory discussions between QMU staff and partner institution. Identification of Academic Link Person (ALP) to establish what partner is looking for and what QMU can provide. Advice from Partnership Development Manager (PDM) on approximate price.
  3. PDM and ALP complete risk assessment and costings. PDM conducts due diligence checks. ALP and PDM collate documentation for submission to PDG.
  4. PDG approval.
  5. Provisional price agreed by Dean and negotiated with partner.
  6. ALP and programme leader at partner start detailed planning. PDM commences discussion of the Memorandum of Agreement.
  7. ALP submits full documentation to the School Academic Board for approval.
  8. School Academic Board recommends programme to Senate for approval.
  9. Memorandum of Agreement signed by Principal and senior representative of partner institution.
  10. Programme commences.

New short programmes with existing partners

New short programmes with existing partners don’t need PDG consideration as the partner is already approved. Step 4 above should be skipped and documentation supplied to the School Academic Board as listed above.

Operation of short programmes

The same procedures apply to short programmes as to full programmes, but it may not be necessary to hold a separate exam board. Partners are not expected to hold full programme committees and student staff committees but should collect student feedback in whatever manner fits best with the way the programme is delivered.

Third Party Credit Rating

Some partners may feel that the level of quality assurance and oversight involved in running a University approved programme is more than they need for their purposes. Third Party Credit Rating offers a lighter touch (and cheaper) alternative. Credit rating is a process whereby QMU looks at the design of a programme of learning and confirms that it is suitable to be treated as a valid programme of learning. QMU also makes a recommendation as to how many credits the programme is equivalent to, and at what SCQF level. This facilitates successful students in seeking Recognition of Prior Learning should they later apply to a university course. QMU does not get involved in the running of the programme or the management of assessment and does not make a direct award of credit to students.

For further information, contact the partnerships team within Governance and Quality Enhancement.

Approving a New Local Support Centre


Local Support Centre is the term used to describe an organisation that provides services to support Queen Margaret University awards delivered by distance learning. Services provided by a local support centre may include assistance with marketing / recruitment, the provision of physical facilities for guest lectures by Queen Margaret University staff, tutorial support and the provision of IT and other study aids. A formal Local Support Centre Agreement is required.

In selecting a local support centre, the University will consider the legal status of the centre and its financial standing and reputation within the local educational community. Where the University considers a local support centre, it should seek:

  • Information available from local government offices and agencies;
  • Information from UK agencies based in the country;
  • Information concerning the cultural, legal, financial and political environment in which the agent operates;
  • Evidence of the centre’s experience and understanding of UK higher education.

The process for approval is based on the standard procedure set out above. See diagram below for details.

Normally, in approving a local support centre, a party comprising a School representative, a Convener and an external assessor will visit the proposed support centre(s) and evaluate it against the overarching principles for selection set out in Selection of Partners above.

The panel will view the facilities at the partner and meet with key staff in order to establish that the partner is able to provide a suitable learning environment and high quality of student experience. The panel will produce a report following the same procedures as for validation and review panels. This report is then considered by the Learning and Teaching Panel which approves the partnership on behalf of Senate.


  1. Initial enquiry normally goes through Partnership Development Manager (PDM), who filters out enquirers who do not meet defined criteria. If criteria met, discussion with Dean or Dean’s designate to confirm whether the School is interested.
  2. Initial exploratory discussions between QMU staff and partner institution. Identification of Academic Link Person (ALP) to establish what partner is looking for and what QMU can provide. Advice from PDM on approximate price. Basic due diligence enquiries by PDM.
  3. Stage 1 approval form completed by ALP and Dean and considered by Portfolio Development Group (PDG).
  4. A senior member of staff conducts site visit and feeds back to PDM. PDM and ALP complete risk assessment. PDM conducts detailed due diligence checks. ALP and PDM undertake detailed costings.
  5. Stage 2 approval form completed by ALP and Dean and considered by Portfolio Development Group (PDG) along with risk assessment, site report and costings
  6. Provisional financial arrangements agreed by Dean and negotiated with partner.
  7. ALP and programme leader at partner start detailed planning. Provisional date for approval visit set. PDM commences discussion of the Memorandum of Agreement.
  8. ALP completes Stage 3 approval form in consultation with programme leader and submits it to School Academic Board.
  9. Development of approval documentation. Panel established. Documents submitted to GQE 4 weeks prior to event.
  10. Negotiation of Local Support Centre Agreement nears completion.
  11. Local Support Centre approval event
  12. Recommendations from Panel reported to the Learning and Teaching Panel, which approves arrangement on behalf of Senate.
  13. Conditions met
  14. Local Support Centre Agreement signed by Principal and senior representative of partner institution.
  15. Programme commences

Communication Arrangements

For all day to day management issues, it is crucial that there is a named contact person at the partner institution. Depending on the nature of the programme this might be the programme leader, another member of academic staff or an administrator. The named contact at the partner institution will be able to refer queries onwards to the relevant person if he or she is not able to respond. For example, an administrator appointed as named contact would typically pass academic queries to a member of academic staff.

Each partner institution must, as a minimum, have the following two contacts at QMU:

  • Academic issues – a named academic staff member in the host School (the Academic Link Person)
  • Administrative issues – named Collaborations Administrative Officer in the School Office appointed by the School Manager

All correspondence must be copied to the Academic Link Person. This will ensure that queries can be handled promptly and effectively. It is essential that the Academic Link Person and Collaborations Administrative Officer communicate regularly and copy each other into correspondence. This will ensure that both are kept updated of any developments.

No member of QMU staff should make decisions relating to the operation of the programme without consulting the Academic Link Person and Collaborations Administrative Officer.

GQE will keep partners updated regarding key contacts at the University.

Starting Out

Internal communication

Once the new programme has been approved it is important to inform all the relevant people. Following sign off of the response to conditions, GQE must:

  • Write formally to the partner institution confirming approval.
  • Send a copy of the definitive document to the School Office to allow information to be entered onto SITS.
  • Give the School Office contact details of the programme leader at the partner institution to allow arrangements to be made regarding matriculation.
  • Inform Admissions and Marketing.

It is good practice for the Academic Link Person to alert the School Office to potential new programmes before validation. The Academic Link Person should inform the School Manager about the new programme, providing contact details of the partner.


The Library should have been consulted at the planning stage when costings and price were negotiated. It is advisable for the Academic Link Person to update the Liaison Services Manager following validation to confirm when the programme will be starting. Arrangements for setting up remote library access should be discussed. If a dedicated induction session is going to be needed this must be negotiated with the relevant Liaison Librarian.

The Academic Link Person should consult with CAP if there are likely to be any staff development needs. Again, this should have been discussed during planning. All new partners are encouraged to send key staff for an induction session introducing QMU and its procedures.

The partner and Academic Link Person should exchange calendars indicating the timing of key events throughout the year – term start and finish dates, holidays and exam boards. This calendar should be sent to the Collaborations Administrative Officer and Partnership Development Officer in GQE.

Some programmes are either direct copies of QMU programmes or are made up of modules which already run at QMU. In such cases, the QMU module co-ordinator must provide their counterpart at the partner organisation with the following material:

  • Module descriptor
  • Suggested week-by-week breakdown of teaching. The partner may choose to modify this as long as the content and learning outcomes are covered. Additional contact hours may be taught.
  • Draft exam papers and assignment specifications
  • Model answers and marking criteria for the above
  • Guidelines to be provided for students regarding the assignments

This ensures that the module co-ordinator at the partner organisation is able to deliver the module in the same way as it would be delivered at QMU.


Standard process

Procedures for processing applications are recorded in the Memorandum of Agreement. The process set out below is the default, but individual partners may negotiate alternative arrangements to suit their circumstances.

  • Students should apply directly to the partner, using the partner’s application form. Normally, partner institutions will be responsible for making decisions on applications in accordance with QMU procedures (and any stipulations made in the Memorandum). However, the Academic Link Person should be consulted about any non-standard applicants (eg students with non-standard qualifications, students wanting entry with advanced standing).
  • For new partnerships, or those with complex entry requirements, it may be appropriate for the Academic Link Person to view details of candidates before offers are made. The timescale for this must be discussed to ensure offers and acceptances can be processed in time for the start of the cohort.
  • The partner issues offer letters to students and compiles a list of all those who accept.

Entry requirements and good admissions practice

Partner institutions must keep records of the entry qualifications of all students admitted to the programme so that QMU can audit these as necessary. The entry requirements for each collaboration are agreed when setting up the programme.

As far as possible, partner institutions should adhere to QMU policies and national legislation governing equality and diversity.

For UK-based programmes that involve work with children or vulnerable adults, criminal record checks will be required. It is QMU policy that students pay for these checks themselves and are informed clearly that they cannot be admitted onto the programme without displaying a disclosure certificate. Students applying to overseas programmes may be required to provide an equivalent local certificate.

All applicants should declare any criminal convictions on their application form. If a declaration has been made, the nature of the conviction will be investigated and a decision made on whether or not the applicant may be admitted to the programme. The Academic Link Person can advise with guidance from the Head of Admissions.

Partners should contact the Academic Link Person for advice on Recognition of Prior Learning or any applications with non-standard entry qualifications. (See section below.)

Information to be provided for applicants

Prior to accepting a place, students on each collaborative programme must receive details of:

  • the intended outcomes of the programme;
  • admission and qualification requirements and any assumed experience or necessary access to particular learning resources;
  • the time commitments required for study on the programme;
  • the assessment methods and conditions that will be used;
  • guidance available should they wish to transfer to study at QMU;
  • the opportunities to use QMU’s learning and other resources;
  • fees and incidental expenses and how and when these are to be paid;
  • welfare, guidance and support services available;
  • the status of the student within QMU and the entitlements that such status does or does not confer;
  • the nature of the award involved and the information which a successful candidate would expect to have recorded on the award certificate and transcript;
  • accurate information about the recognition of the programme or award by professional and statutory bodies in the UK;
  • named contacts at QMU and the partner organisation;
  • complaints, grievance and appeals procedures and how to make use of these.

In addition to the above, for arrangements involving overseas partners or intended specifically for overseas students, the following must be detailed:

  • the language of instruction and assessment;
  • accurate information about the recognition of the programme or award by professional and statutory bodies in the UK or elsewhere;
  • for programmes involving study in more than one country, information about the features of studying in those countries, including information about costs.

Students should receive a handbook which provides the above information. Student handbooks should include general information about the organisation’s rules and support systems as well as specific information relating to the programme with QMU.

The student handbook is checked and formally approved by the validation or review panel. Between review events it is advisable for programme leaders to forward copies of student handbooks to the Academic Link Person to check that all information about QMU and, in particular, QMU regulations and procedures, remains accurate and up to date.

Matriculation and Induction


The process of registering as a student at QMU is referred to as ‘matriculation’. Once a student has matriculated, they are entitled to pursue the programme of study to which they have been admitted and to access student services and facilities in the University. All students are required to formally register with QMU and declare that they agree to abide by the University's regulations. Even students who never attend the campus are required to matriculate. The University has a statutory obligation to the Scottish Funding Council and the Higher Education Statistics Agency to collect data on all students studying at QMU on an annual basis.

All students on each programme must matriculate every academic year. QMU’s academic year runs from September to August, but collaborative programmes may start at different times. If a student starts a course in April and matriculates, and the course has not completed by August, the student will need to matriculate again in September in order to maintain their registration.

If students don’t matriculate, they will be unable to access QMU electronic resources and it will not be possible to process their marks at the exam board.

Because not every programme starts at the same time it is easiest if partners contact the Collaborations Administrative Officers to alert the University that a new cohort of students is starting. Guidance notes on matriculation can also be emailed on request.

New students UK Collaborative Partners

Matriculation is an online process and can be accessed via the following link:

In order for students to complete this process the designated administrative contact at the partner should send a list of new students to the Collaborations Administrative Officers, providing the following information:

  • Forename
  • Surname
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Course title and level
  • Start date
  • Student Email Address

A spreadsheet is the simplest format for this.

The Collaborations Administrative Officers will then set up each student on the student record system, SITS (including batch identifier if needed). The list of matriculation numbers is then sent back to the administrator at the partner. The Officers will also register the students onto their modules. It is essential that enough time is allowed for these processes so that the students can be ready to matriculate when their term starts. Partners should aim to provide student details at least two weeks before the start of classes.

An email is also sent directly to the student advising them on how to complete matriculation. More information, including FAQs and guidance on how to complete the process, can be found on our matriculation website via the following link:

After completing matriculation there may be a delay to students gaining access to QMU’s facilities (a maximum of 6 hours).

If students would like a Student ID Smartcard, there are three options: (a) e-mail Registry and attach a passport photo - preferably jpeg file format; (b) send Registry a passport photo in the post with their name/matriculation number written on the back; (c) come to the Registry Information Point on campus where a picture can be taken and a card issued on the spot. It is noted that some collaborative partners provide photos directly to the University in which case cards are sent to students on request.

The partner should inform the Collaborations Administrative Officers which modules the students are studying so that they can be registered on to the modules in time for the students commencing their course.

For all queries regarding matriculation, please contact Student Records at Registry.

Overseas Collaborative Partners

New Students

Students must matriculate online. The designated administrative contact at the partner should send a list of new students to the Collaborations Administrative Officers providing the following information:

  • Given Name
  • Family Name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Course title and level
  • Start date
  • Student Email Address

A spreadsheet is the simplest format for this.

The Collaborations Administrative Officers will then set up each student on the student record system, ISIS (including batch identifier if needed). The list of matriculation numbers is then sent back to the administrator at the partner. The Officers will also register the students onto their modules. It is essential that enough time is allowed for these processes so that the students can be ready to matriculate when their term starts. Partners should aim to provide student details at least two weeks before the start of classes.

An email is also sent directly to the student advising them on how to complete matriculation. More information, including FAQs and guidance on how to complete the process, can be found on our matriculation website via the following link:

After completing matriculation there may be a delay to students gaining access to QMU’s facilities (a maximum of 6 hours).

The partner should inform the Collaborations Administrative Officers which modules the students are studying so that they can be registered on to the modules in time for the students commencing their course.

For all queries regarding matriculation, please contact Student Records at Registry.

Please note that some students will need to apply directly via our Admissions team, please refer to separate guidance for further details.

Continuing students

Continuing students should matriculate via the following link:

Students will need to know their QMU student number and password. (The student number is the 8 digit number allocated when they first started, e.g. 09006072 or 06007630). Please note that passwords expire every 60 days so the students may need to reset their passwords before completing the process. The students should use the link on the Portal page to reset their password. If that doesn’t work, students can also email Assist to receive a new password. Please note that it is vital that continuing students complete the matriculation process in order for them to access QMU online facilities and for their results to be confirmed.

Programme Induction

To induct students to the programme, the following information should be supplied:

  • a programme handbook providing details of the modules to be studied, assessment formats and timings, and reading list;
  • links to the QMU website, the QMU student regulations and terms and conditions
  • information on support provided by the partner institution;
  • information on any specific regulations relating to the partner institution.

This information will normally be provided by the partner institution. Where a programme is delivered jointly with QMU, materials will be produced jointly. Note that there are summaries of the main assessment regulations on the Quick Guides page of this website.

Access To It Accounts And Electronic Resources


Key staff at partner institutions can be provided with Queen Margaret University IT accounts in order to gain access to resources such as the library and the Hub (QMU’s virtual Learning Environment). 'Key staff' normally includes Programme Leaders, Module Co-ordinators and Programme Administrators.


  • Teaching staff CVs must be approved before IT accounts are set up. CVs for new staff should be sent to the Partnership Development Officer at who will liaise with staff at QMU to get the necessary approval.
  • Once the CV is approved the Access QMU form should be completed and returned to the Partnership Development Officer who will liaise with the Academic Link Person, Human Resources and IT to get the QMU account set up.
  • Once the IT account is live, IT will email log on details to the new account holder, using the non-QMU email address supplied on the Access QMU form.
  • The Collaborations Administrative Officers will add new account holders to Hub sites required.
  • Passwords need to be reset every three months. (This is for security reasons.) Alerts will be sent to the QMU email address to indicate when this is required. For support in resetting passwords or other issues relating to access to QMU please email
  • IT accounts expire after one year. Expiry dates are monitored by the Partnership Development Officer who will liaise with the partner institution to before advising IT to extend or disable any IT accounts.

More information about using QMU's library resources can be found on the Library website.

Information about the Hub and other applications can be found in the Centre for Academic Practice web pages.


Each student matriculated at QMU is provided with a University email address and network account, which will be fully operational within 24 hours of matriculation.

Subject to the agreement with the partner institution, students will normally have access to QMU electronic resources (texts, journals and databases). For those that do, Learning Resource Centre inductions can be arranged where staff will explain to students how to use the resources. A suitable time for this should be negotiated with the Liaison Services Manager (contact either the Academic Link Person or School Office for help). Similarly, for students with on-site library access, induction sessions can be arranged – just ask at the LRC Service Desk.

Extensive information about the use of the Learning Resource Centre is available on the website: For specific queries, email Assist.

For those programmes that use the QMU Hub, students will be given access to Hub sites once they are fully matriculated and the School Office has registered them on their modules. If there is a problem with a student's access, contact to check the student's record.

Technology-enhanced Learning

Technology Enhanced Learning for Partners

Collaborative partners normally have access to QMU’s electronic resources. It is important that partners discuss with their ALP the range of resources they might want to use. We encourage partners to explore these options and think about whether they would be helpful for their students. If additional training will be required, then this must be taken into account when negotiating the contract.

The most commonly used systems are described below:

Virtual Learning Environment - The Hub

The Hub provides a set of educational tools to facilitate learning, communication, collaboration and assessment often called a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You can use the Hub to complement face to face learning, for instance by uploading additional resources such as videos, or by setting formative assessment exercises. The Hub can be very important for supporting students who are based at a distance or studying part-time.

At QMU we utilise Blackboard Learn 9.1, customised with specific building blocks to help tutors with structuring content that augments the teaching and learning of their programmes. Ordinarily each programme module will have its own Hub area which the Partner’s Module Coordinator manages with their teaching team. Technical support and staff development is provided by the Centre for Academic Practice, Technology Enhanced Learning team.

Within a Hub module area, there are a number of tools available for tutors:

    • Announcements
    • Discussion Boards
    • Embedding YouTube videos
    • File upload
    • Learning Resource Centre link
    • Online Marking
    • Plagiarism Checking Tool for students
    • Peer assessment
    • Tests
    • Web links

How to get the Hub set up for your programme:

Staff and students require an active QMU IT account; detailed information about account setup and maintenance can be found earlier in this manual (Access to IT accounts and electronic resources).

If you want individual module sites these can be set up by the School Office Collaborations administration team. The Collaborations team will have details of the standard programme structure and will enroll students automatically on modules once they have matriculated. The Hub is connected to the student record system and will grant access to all students registered on the module. The named module co-ordinator (as recorded on SITS) will also have access.

If there is a problem with access your first port of call is to contact the Collaborations Administration team to check that the individual is correctly registered.

Note that once the sites are set up partners will need to run them and keep them up to date. The decision about whether to use the Hub depends on the amount of time that the partner can commit to both training and on-going maintenance.

Resources and guides for using the Hub

If you have queries you can email Hub support.

Online Marking – Turnitin: GradeMark

To facilitate online marking at QMU, we have integrated Turnitin GradeMark as part of our Hub experience. This addition enables students to submit an electronic file for the marking, feedback and moderation to be completed by first the partner and then QMU Academic staff (and external examiners). The whole process is managed within the Hub.

Using GradeMark helps to speed up the moderation process and avoids sending hard copies of assignments from one marker to another. It can also help to make it clearer why marks were awarded and can guide markers to provide more useful and specific feedback to students.

QMU’s Collaboration Administration team will add submission drop boxes and a plagiarism checker tool to each of the Hub module areas. QMU’s Collaboration Administration team requires Partners to provide deadline time and dates for planned assessments at the beginning of each academic year

Resources and guides for using GradeMark

Plagiarism Checker – Turnitin: Originality Report

Turnitin is an online service which accepts students’ draft submissions electronically and compares them with over 800 million web pages and a range of electronic resources. It then returns an "Originality Report" highlighting instances of matches with the external sources which may indicate poor referencing. By using Turnitin, markers can very quickly identify text that has been cut and paste from a book or journal, as well as spotting cases where students copy each other’s essays.

Resources and guides for using Turnitin

Technical support and staff development is provided by the Centre for Academic Practice, Technology Enhanced Learning team

ePortfolio - Pebblepad

In many courses, especially those designed as continuing professional development, students have to compile portfolios of evidence relating to their practice. The traditional portfolio of a lever arch file stuffed with different documents is cumbersome both to compile and to mark. By using ePortfolio software this process can be made more manageable.

QMU licenses Pebble+ as its go to portfolio software. Students can use this collection to reflect on their learning process and submit these as part of an assessment or use it for personal development, in creating a CV and in preparation for an interview.

Further information on the use of ePortfolio

Technical support and staff development is provided by the Centre for Academic Practice, Technology Enhanced Learning team.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is the name for the process whereby students are given credit for learning they undertook before joining a QMU programme. It covers the following situations:

  • Non-standard entry, ie applicants who don’t have the standard qualifications defined as the normal entry criteria for the programme. (The normal entry criteria are always defined in the programme document.) A decision will have to be made as to whether their prior learning – academic qualifications and work experience – is equivalent to the normal entry criteria.
  • Advanced Standing, ie applicants who want to enter a programme at a higher level than normal because they have already studied elsewhere. (For example, students transferring from another university.)
  • Applicants who want exemption from specific modules because they have already studied a similar module (in another university) or because they have significant professional experience.

In all of the above situations, the programme leader should consult their ALP for advice. In most cases the final decision will need to be referred to the QMU RPL Panel. The RPL Panel has been set up to ensure that students are treated equitably and consistently across all the different programmes.

You can find the full guidance and forms here.


Where the situation relates to admission to the programme and where the applicant’s previous learning is fairly straightforward, the ALP will normally make a decision. This will then come to the QMU RPL Panel for noting.

In cases where a large number of students are affected, a Group Agreement can be approved by the Panel and subsequent applicants can be noted without full paperwork scrutiny being required. This may apply when a number of students are transferring from one course to another.

Certificated and experiential learning

Certificated learning is normally straightforward to deal with. The key things to remember are that:

  • The learning should be relevant to the learning outcomes of the programme / module.
  • The learning should be at the right academic level.
  • It should be current (normally not more than five years old – see guidance).

Experiential learning is less easy to deal with. Students / applicants may wish to use their previous professional experience to apply for two different types of credit:

  • General credit towards a programme as a whole
  • Exemption from individual modules (specific credit)

If the application is for general credit, the applicant must normally demonstrate how they meet the overall programme learning outcomes. If the application is for specific credit, they must normally demonstrate how they meet the module outcomes.

Learning may be evidenced through a portfolio, an essay or even a viva. In some cases it will be more practical for the evidence to be assessed by the partner locally, especially if material is in another language. However, the RPL panel will need to see how the evidence was mapped against the learning outcomes. Partners should ask the ALP, in the first instance, to guide them about the type of evidence that is appropriate and how to set it out systematically for the RPL panel.

Please note, it is not just the fact that experience has been gained that is important, but that the student is able to evidence what they have learned, at the correct academic level. For example, a student might have worked in a bank for three years. What they learnt from that depends on the type of work they did, the extent to which they simply followed set procedures or were involved in developing and defining procedures, and the level of autonomy they were allowed within their role.

The SQCF level descriptors are a useful guide here:

Programme Leaders are encouraged to contact their ALP for advice, so ALPs should be aware of the process and the RPL guidance. It is important that ALPs know who their divisional representative is on the Panel, as this will be their first point of contact for specific queries. The chair and secretary may also be approached for advice.


Assessment regulations

Assessment should follow standard QMU procedures and regulations, available on the Quality website.

Any programme specific regulations which deviate from QMU regulations must be approved by the validation or review panel or the School Academic Board.

Partner institutions should familiarise themselves with QMU regulations prior to starting delivery of the programme. A meeting with the Academic Link Person and School Office is recommended, to talk through the assessment process and clarify any areas of doubt. It is important to be clear as to what students need to do to pass each module. Pay particular attention to which assessments are formative (purely to provide feedback to the student) and which are summative (contributing to the final mark).

It is the responsibility of the Academic Link Person to update the partner institution regarding any changes in University regulations and procedures as they occur. GQE will also circulate changes to central contacts at all partners and will make sure key changes are notified at the Joint Board of Studies.

Setting assessment tasks and writing exam papers

Within the collaborative agreement, arrangements should be made for the setting and approval of assessments. It is normal for the external examiner to be consulted, and in particular the external examiner should see all draft exam papers before they are set. For further information on the role of the external examiner see below. This peer approach allows partner institutions to benefit from the external’s experience of good practice and ensures that assessment is appropriate to the learning outcomes of the module.

In the case of franchise programmes where QMU sets the assessments, the partner institution must be consulted about the timing and appropriateness of assessments in good time. This is the responsibility of the Academic Link Person.

Extenuating circumstances

Students may not be able to complete the assessment on time for reasons beyond their control such as illness or family problems. QMU may need to see evidence of extenuating circumstances. QMU provides guidance on how to deal with these situations.

If the student only needs a short extension (normally up to three weeks), this may be granted, but consideration should be given as to the timescale for the assignment to be marked and moderated before the exam board. Students should be advised of the exam board dates and it should be made clear that a longer period of extension may mean the mark can’t be confirmed until the next board.

If the student is going to need a longer period of time before completing an assessment component, he or she may need to defer study. Students can defer for up to 12 months. Deferrals should be approved by the Programme Leader and recorded formally at the exam board.

Marking and moderation

As far as is practical, all assessments should be marked anonymously, with students identifying themselves only by matriculation number. This is so students can be reassured there is no personal bias in the marking. Certain types of assessment (e.g. presentations) obviously cannot be marked anonymously.

A sample of student work for each module must be moderated by another marker from the programme team. This means that a second marker will look over the sample of scripts to confirm that marking is consistent and aligns with the criteria set for the assignment.

In this manual, whenever we refer to ‘a sample of assessments’, this is what we mean:

The size of the sample to be moderated must be at least the square root of the total number of students taking the assessment (rounded to the nearest whole number) plus all borderline fails. The sample should include a full range of performance. The minimum size should be six pieces of assessed work but more pieces should be included as necessary to reflect the range of marks. In practice, if there are eight or fewer assessments all of them should be included in the sample.

All Honours projects and Masters dissertations / projects must be blind double-marked for the whole cohort. This means that a second marker will read the scripts thoroughly and mark them without knowing the original mark. The two markers must then agree a single, final mark and a single set of feedback comments.

QMU moderation

All franchised and most validated programmes are supported by a process of ongoing moderation. In order to assist partner institutions delivering validated programmes, QMU staff will provide moderation when a new programme starts. These processes enable the University to be sure that marking is fair and reliable and allows for detailed conversations with staff at the partner about how to interpret QMU’s marking requirements.

The procedure should be as set out below:

  • Partner staff undertake first marking and internal moderation
  • QMU staff moderate a sample for each module which is deemed to require it. (Note that individual modules may be exempt – see below). Normally the co-ordinator of the most similar QMU module will moderate the work and the ALP’s role will be to co-ordinate the moderation process.
  • Moderation is NOT second marking. Moderators should look for consistency between markers’ comments, grade given and the marking criteria, as well as consistency between the marking criteria and the learning outcomes of the module.
  • If the QMU staff are happy with the marking, the same sample should be sent on to the external examiner.
  • Written records must be kept for reference. QMU moderators' comments should be passed to the staff at the partner institution and may be reported at the Board of Examiners.
  • If QMU staff identify issues arising from moderation, they must discuss these with the original marker. Only the original marker may agree to change an individual student’s mark, unless QMU staff undertake to re-mark the entire cohort. It is essential to engage in a dialogue with staff at the partner organisation in order to resolve any differences of approach to marking and marking criteria.
  • If the original marker changes a mark within the sample in response to feedback from QMU, the marker should consider whether the same feedback applies to any other mark within the cohort and should make these changes as appropriate. 
  • If it is decided that re-marking is required, where possible this should be done before anything is sent to the external examiner. Once it is complete, a fresh sample should be taken (to make sure all borderline fails are included and a range of grades). The external should see both the original marks and feedback and the QMU marker’s comments. Students should receive a fresh feedback sheet which aligns with the final mark awarded.

As stated above, QMU moderation remains ongoing with respect to franchised programme. In the case of validated programmes, QMU moderation will continue until such time as the QMU School Academic Board recommends that this support is no longer required. All decisions related to the method of managing the moderation process should be discussed between the programme leader at the partner organisation and the ALP.

Material to be supplied

In order to facilitate an efficient moderation process and timely preparation for the Board of Examiners, please note that the following checklist is recommended for sending to partners to explain what is needed. Moderation normally takes place online via the Hub or a secured shared drive.

If not using Grademark

  • Sample of work for each component of assessment. So, if a module included three assessments – a case study, an essay and an exam – there should be a sample of case studies, a sample of essays and a sample of exam scripts. The same students need not be in each sample.
  • For each piece of written work, include a copy of the feedback supplied by the original marker to the student. (There will not normally be feedback on exams.)
  • The size of the sample moderated must be at least the square root of the total number of students (rounded to the nearest whole number) plus all borderline fails. The sample should include a range of performance and the minimum size should be six pieces of assessed work.
  • Complete list of marks, presented in the csv sheet provided by the Collaborations Administration Team. Please give all marks as percentages. For example, if a piece of work was marked as 30 out of 60 this should be recorded as 50%.
  • Copy of the assignment guidelines that were issued to students. This tells the moderator what exactly the students were asked to do. For an exam, supply the exam paper.
  • Copy of the marking criteria used by the marker. This tells the moderator how marks were allocated.

All material should be uploaded to the shared drive folders created by the Collaborations Administration Team.

If using Grademark

  • QMU Module Coordinators select a sample from the Grademark Submission Dropbox
  • The size of the sample moderated must be at least the square root of the total number of students (rounded to the nearest whole number) plus all borderline fails. The sample should include a range of performance and the minimum size should be six pieces of assessed work.
  • Marks should be provided for each individual student within the Grademark Submission Dropbox.
  • Copy of the assignment guidelines that were issued to students. This tells the moderator what exactly the students were asked to do.
  • Copy of the marking criteria is shown on the rubric within Grademark

Number of students on module

Minimum sample size

≤ 42


43 – 56


57 – 72


73 – 90


91 – 110


111 – 132


144 – 156


Feedback to students

As there are various stages and checks in the marking and moderation process, it can take some time to complete. We recommend the following timescales:

Marking and moderation by partner: 20 working days
QMU moderation: 5-10 working days
External examiner confirmation: 5-10 working days
Entry of marks and preparation of exam board papers: 5 working days

Students will want to receive their marks as soon as possible but it can be risky to release marks before the full process is complete, as sometimes marks may change.

Usually it is best to wait until QMU moderation is complete before releasing provisional marks. However, it must be made very clear that the mark isn’t final until it has been ratified by the Board of Examiners. Note that marks for modules at SCQF level nine or above will need to be confirmed by the external examiner. (See External Examiners.)

All agreed marks should be sent to the School Office for entry onto the student records system (SITS). See Boards of Examiners for more detail.

Examination arrangements and submission dates

Dates of exams and assessment deadlines must be set sufficiently in advance of the exam board to allow for marking, moderation by QMU staff (if required) and up to ten working days for the external examiner to view the work. The partner institution should consult the School Office contact and Academic Link Person to agree a calendar of assessment dates, exam boards and graduation at the start of the academic year.

Franchised programmes must use the same exam paper as is used for other cohorts taking the same modules. Where there is a significant time difference between QMU and the franchise partner, or modules are delivered on different schedules, it is not practical for students to sit the examination at the same time. Therefore, in order to avoid questions being known in advance to some groups of students, it may be necessary to prepare separate examination papers.

It is normally appropriate to consult module co-ordinators at the partner institution regarding the wording of the question paper. This ensures that examples are not overly specific to Scotland/the UK. It also ensures that there is no mismatch between the topics and the curriculum taught at the partner institution. Draft examination papers should to be sent to partners 4 weeks in advance of the exam date.

The finalised examination paper – must be checked and signed off by the paper setter, franchise partner, Head of Division (and External Examiner where appropriate – see below). The paper should be forwarded electronically to the named contact at the franchise partner at least three weeks before the date of the examination. Transfer of draft and final examination papers between QMU and franchise partners must be through a secure process as advised by QMU.

Partner institutions must nominate a member of staff to be the official contact for matters relating to examinations. This person will be responsible for ensuring the security of all examination papers, prior to the examination being held. This person should also ensure that invigilation arrangements meet QMU expectations. See Exam regulations for more detail.

If you have any questions about the operation of the assessment process contact the Collaborations Team in the School Office

External Examiners

Role and appointment

Every programme must have an external examiner. This person will:

  • provide an independent check on marking and academic standards;
  • provide advice on assessment and the curriculum;
  • submit an annual report indicating their impression of the programme’s strengths and areas for development.

It is the joint responsibility of the partner institution and Academic Link Person to identify and approach a potential external examiner. The examiner should be somebody with academic experience, knowledge of UK Higher Education and (for professional courses) knowledge of the profession. The Academic Link Person is responsible for dealing with the QMU appointment process.

Arrangements for payment of external examiners will be as stated in the Memorandum of Agreement.

Examiners are normally appointed for four years. At least six months before the examiner’s term expires, the partner institution and Academic Link Person should look for a replacement. This allows enough time to cope with any unexpected delays.

Following approval of the appointment, Registry will send external examiners their contract and provide a handbook explaining the examiner’s role and responsibilities. In the case of franchised programmes, the QMU programme team send the examiner a programme document and module descriptors.

External examiners are required to review student work that 'contributes towards students' final award'. In practice this means that external examiners must look at:

  • all modules for a Masters programme
  • all modules for an HECert or HEDip
  • only modules at levels 3 and 4 for a Bachelors degree

Liaison with the External Examiner

The external examiner is an invaluable source of advice on curriculum and assessment. Draft essay questions and exam papers should be uploaded onto the shared drive for external examiner approval before they are given to students. The examiner may be able to offer suggestions for improvement.

Normally it is staff from QMU who will liaise with the external examiner but it may be agreed that the programme leader from the partner institution can liaise with the examiner direct. (This is often the case for established programmes that have been granted responsibility for their own internal moderation.)

Once marking is complete, work must be made available to the external examiner to moderate. Ideally, work should be sent at least ten working days before the exam board to give the examiner time to look at it properly. Occasionally an examiner may prefer to look at work on site when they visit – it is important to check with the examiner about their preference.

When sending work the examiner should be provided with:

  • the assignment as set to students, with any guidelines provided;
  • a sample of assessments*;
  • a full module mark list;
  • copies of the first marker’s feedback to students;
  • copies of any comments from the second marker;
  • marking criteria or model answers
  • as appropriate, the formal report of the QMU internal moderator

* When there are eight or fewer students all the assessments should be sent. When there are more, the following guidelines apply:

  • The minimum sample is six scripts. For large cohorts, the minimum sample is the square root of the total number of students (rounded up).
  • Send one script from each grade (70+%, 60-69%, etc)
  • Send all borderline fails.

The external examiner may make suggestions as to changes to marks but only the module marker can decide to change marks before the Board of Examiners. This is because only the module marker will have seen and ranked all the scripts and will therefore be able to judge whether other scripts of a similar quality need to be re-graded. If the examiner is determined to change marks he or she must view all scripts in the cohort to ensure equity.

Where the language of assessment is not English, appropriate arrangements must be put in place to ensure the external examiner can review the work.

External examiner’s report

The examiner’s annual report will be sent to the partner institution for a response. Usually, examiners raise at least some queries or put forward suggestions for improvement. The programme team must reply to the examiner, explaining what changes they have made or plan to make, or justifying why they feel no change is appropriate. The response must be sent to GQE and the Dean of School within eight weeks as part of QMU’s ongoing quality assurance. This allows the University to reassure itself that any issues are being addressed.

For further guidance on responding to external examiners, see this exemplar response.

Further information about the role of the external examiner is available on the Quality website.

Boards of Examiners

Dates of exam boards should be set at the start of the academic year, in consultation with the Academic Link Person and School Manager. Normally two Boards of Examiner will be scheduled, the first to make decisions on progress and reassessment after students' first attempt; and the second to consider the outcomes of reassessment. However, this may vary depending on the delivery pattern of the programme.

In order to process awards in time for graduation, progression boards are usually held at least four weeks prior to the graduation ceremony.

The Memorandum of Agreement will specify arrangements for exam boards. A senior academic member of QMU staff will convene the board and an QMU Administrator will act as secretary. Normally, the external examiner will be present and all members of the programme team. At least three quarters of the staff involved in marking must be present.

Confirmed marks should be sent to the School Office a minimum of five working days prior to the board. When sending marks, please ensure the following:

  • The csv sheet, provided by the Collaborations Administrative Officer, is completed in full – with due care taken to ensure that the correct component mark is entered as appropriate (i.e. to ensure for example component 1 & 2 essay & report marks are not accidentally submitted the wrong way around).
  • The marks are entered as the percentage the student received for each component of assessment (unless simply marked as pass or fail). Where an assessment is marked as only pass or fail, this will be indicated on the module descriptor.
  • Information about any students who have not submitted – were these non-submissions or withdrawals or has the student deferred?
  • Information about any extenuating circumstances.

The Collaborations Administrative Officer will enter the marks and produce mark sheets for the exam board; student profiles will also be prepared for any award or progression decisions as appropriate.

Marks are not confirmed until they have been through an exam board. Therefore, if students are given feedback prior to the board, it should be made clear that that any grades indicated on their work are provisional. Student marks are private and confidential information, so any lists published on notice boards or electronically should only identify students by their matriculation number, not name.

If a student has failed they must normally wait for confirmation of the mark at the exam board before they can be reassessed. Exceptionally, the Convener of the exam board may grant permission for early retrieval in response to particular student circumstances. The Convener of the exam board is normally the Head of Division.

It is normally the responsibility of the partner institution to contact students who have not yet passed (whether through failure or deferral due to extenuating circumstances). Such students must be informed in writing of what they have to do to retrieve and the new submission date (or date of exam). Students must be given adequate time to prepare for reassessments: the usual reassessment period is 6 weeks; this should be no less than four weeks minimum.

It is important to have all relevant information at the exam board and to be sure about the accuracy of marks. The information presented at the exam board becomes the student’s official record. If anything comes to light after the board the official record can only be changed by convener’s action, i.e. the Convener of the board must communicate this decision in writing to the Secretary.

Sometimes decisions about student progress need to be made urgently and there isn't time for an exam board. In such cases, the Convener of the Board should be contacted and asked to approve the decision on behalf of the Board. No decisions on student progress can be made without the Convener's approval.

Transcripts and Student Records

A transcript is a summary of all the modules a student has taken and results achieved. Only the University Secretary has the authority to issue transcripts. After the main exam board(s) of the academic year, staff from the Division of Registry and Academic Administration will produce transcripts for all UK based students and post these to students’ home addresses. Student addresses are taken from the information supplied at matriculation. If any student has changed their address they must change their details through the student portal. For overseas collaborations, transcripts will be sent directly to partner institutions for distribution to students.

Students who have not matriculated will not receive a transcript and cannot be awarded academic credit.

Student Records will send out graduation information to all students who have been recommended for award where appropriate. It is recognised that for overseas partners, graduation ceremonies are normally held in country.

If a student requires a fresh transcript they must apply in writing to Student Records. (See for details.) In certain circumstances a fee may be charged.

For programmes delivered outside the UK the transcript will state the location of study and language of instruction.

A copy of the student’s work plus a copy of the marker’s comments should be retained by the partner institution for 12 months to allow for any possible appeals.

Student Support

Student Support

Student support is the responsibility of the partner institution. Support should be equivalent to that provided by QMU. This should include:

  • A named contact for students to approach with any academic or personal problems (at QMU this is the Personal Academic Tutor).
  • Procedures for providing support with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.
  • Procedures for supporting students with key academic skills such as referencing, academic writing, IT, spelling and grammar.
  • Support for English language (for students whose first language is not English)
  • Arrangements for personal development planning.
  • Support for students from the full range of diverse backgrounds.
  • Provision of careers advice.

QMU Student Services are not able to provide direct support to partner organisations but advice is available from their website.

There are also a number of guides and resources available from the Effective Learning Service and the Library.

You and your students may find the guidance on avoiding plagiarism particularly useful.

You and your students may also find the guidance around topics such as deferral on the Thinking of Leaving page useful.

As a public organisation, QMU is covered by a range of UK legislation relating to equality and diversity. Partners should be mindful that the University is committed to creating and celebrating a positive, inclusive atmosphere, based on respect for individuals’ differences, in which students and staff are actively encouraged to reach their full potential. In practice this means seeking to provide educational opportunities for all students, regardless of race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, age or disability. More information can be found here.

Joint Boards of Studies and Committees

Collaborative programmes fit into the QMU committee structure as follows:

  • Student-Staff Consultative Committee. The partner institution should organise regular meetings with students to allow them to provide constructive feedback on their experiences. A Student-Staff Consultative Committee is required only for programmes leading to an award of the University and not for Short Programmes leading to the award of academic credit only.
  • Programme committee / programme team meetings. The partner institution should organise meetings of their internal programme team to discuss operational issues. It is good practice to invite the Academic Link Person to attend some of these meetings. Ideally, the Student-Staff Consultative Committee should take place before the programme team meeting so that any issues raised by the students can be passed to the programme team for consideration.
  • Joint Board of Studies. Self-contained programmes leading to an award will normally have a Joint Board of Studies (JBoS). Notes of the Student-Staff Consultative Committee and programme team meetings should be reported to the Joint Board of Studies. The JBoS is chaired by the Dean of School or nominee, typically the Academic Link Person, and a member of Registry staff acts as Secretary. This committee is the key forum for liaison between the partner institution and QMU and discusses all issues relating to the collaboration. Most matters will be dealt with through the JBoS, but if the issue requires input on a School or institutional level it will be reported upwards.
  • School Academic Board. The JBoS reports into the School Academic Board which has overall responsibility for conduct of academic programmes within the School. The School Academic Board is the first point of call for quality procedures, such as module approval and external examiner appointments. The Academic Link Person should advise the partner institution as to how and when to provide documents for the Board.
  • Collaborations Operations Group. This group brings together QMU staff with responsibility for various aspects of supporting collaborative provision. It reviews the effectiveness of QMU’s arrangements for supporting collaborations and recommends changes to the University’s policy and procedures accordingly. It reports into the Student Experience Committee.
  • Student Experience Committee. This is the senior committee which decides on academic policy and regulations. It has delegated authority to recommend approval of programme-related business on behalf of Senate.
  • Senate is the highest level academic committee within QMU. Only Senate can approve the award of degrees to individual students. Only Senate can approve changes to the University regulations.

More guidance on how SSCCs and Programme Committees should work can be found in the SSCC minutes exemplar.

The remit of the Joint Board will be to monitor and review the operation of the programme; to receive reports from the external examiner/s, review the annual report and action plan, receive minutes of subsidiary committees; and to submit minutes of its meetings to the School Academic Board. (See sample Joint Board of Studies agenda.)

In drawing up the Memorandum of Agreement, partner institutions should agree with Queen Margaret University whether there will be one or two meetings of the Joint Board of Studies per year.

Some short programmes, including those which form part of other QMU programmes, will not have their own Joint Board of Studies but will be managed through a joint programme committee (e.g. the Post Registration Board of Studies in Nursing). Representatives of the partner institution should be full members of these committees and minutes of programme team meetings reported to the joint programme committee as above.

Making changes

As time goes by it may become clear that changes are required to the programme. This may be a result of feedback from students, feedback from external examiners or a response to developments in the area. Any changes to the programme as originally validated must be agreed by the Joint Board of Studies and then submitted to the relevant University committee for approval (normally the School Academic Board).

Changes to a single module

Minor changes can be approved by the Joint Board of Studies:

  • Change of semester of delivery
  • Small changes to the amount of face-to-face contact or the balance of lectures, practicals and tutorials
  • Changes to the wording of the assignment
  • Minor changes to the wording of learning outcomes 

Bigger changes must also be approved by the School Academic Board:

  • Change to the weighting of summative assessment components.
  • Change to the length, duration or format of summative assessment components.
  • Addition or removal of learning outcomes.
  • Change of mode of delivery (classroom or distance learning)

The original and revised module descriptor must be sent to the School Academic Board along with a module alteration form explaining the nature of the change and rationale.

Change to programme title

A memo should be sent to the School Academic Board explaining the reasons for the change. The Board will want to be assured that there has been appropriate consultation with students, the external examiner and (where relevant) potential employers of graduates.

Normally, it is not possible to change the title of the award for existing students unless they all agree to it.

Adding or withdrawing a module

The module alteration form, available from the Quality website, should be completed and submitted to the School Academic Board explaining the reasons for the change. Module descriptors should be included as appropriate.

Changes to programme learning outcomes or to a number of modules

Advice should be sought from the Governance and Quality Enhancement, as these revisions might constitute a ‘major change’ requiring scrutiny by the original validation panel for the programme (or most recent review panel). This scrutiny is usually done by correspondence without the need for a further review event.

Change to programme specific regulations

A memo should be sent to the School Academic Board explaining the reasons for the change. It is normally wise to consult the School Manager about the addition or removal of regulations for advice on how this might affect decisions made at exam boards.

Change to admission criteria

Admission criteria are approved by the validation or review panel and set out in the definitive programme document. The addition or removal of any entry requirements must be approved by the School Academic Board. As above, send a written request to the Board with the rationale for the proposed change.

Change to programme leader

The new programme leader must be approved by the Joint Board of Studies.

Change of premises

If the location where the programme is delivered has changed, the new site must be approved by QMU. In almost all cases a fresh evaluation visit will be required.

Essential Ongoing Quality Assurance

Mechanisms for assuring quality include:

  • Student staff consultative committees
  • Module evaluations
  • Student surveys
  • External examiner reports (see separate section)
  • Annual programme monitoring reports
  • Programme review (see separate section)

Student-Staff Consultative Committee

Student-staff consultative committees should be held once per semester for all programmes leading to an award of the University. These committees should consist of student representatives and some members of the programme team. It is recommended that there be more students than staff to allow students to lead the agenda. Students should be encouraged to bring forward any recommendations for future programme development or issues of concern to them and their colleagues. Minutes or notes of the meeting are reported to the Programme Committee and Joint Board of Studies. (See SSCC minutes exemplar.)

Module evaluation and student surveys

Module evaluations are normally conducted for each module every time it runs, giving students an opportunity to indicate their opinion anonymously. Results of module evaluations are reported to the Programme Committee and Joint Board of Studies, often through the annual monitoring process. QMU’s standard module evaluation form can be used. The form can be customised to include specific questions about the modules delivered by the partner institution.

Programme teams may decide from time to time to issue surveys to students about their experience of the programme as a whole in order to gain broader feedback.

External Examiner reports

External examiner reports are considered by the Programme Committee and Joint Board of Studies. It is important that all members of the teaching team see the examiner's comments and agree how the team should respond. It is also important that reports are shared with students (normally through student representatives). This provides reassurance to students about how the academic standards of the award compare with similar awards across the UK.

Annual Programme Monitoring

The purpose of annual programme monitoring is to allow each School to review the ongoing performance of its programmes. Each programme, including Short Programmes, must provide an annual report and action plan. A template for the report will be provided in autumn by GQE and a deadline for submission of reports set.

There are two parts to the process:

  • Part 1. At the end of the academic year, programme teams are asked to reflect on the evidence they have available to them at that time and identify the key features to note about what has gone well and what could be improved. The report should include a brief summary of the important points arising from the evidence; commentary on actions agreed in the previous year’s report; and actions for the coming year. In particular, teams are asked to identify:
    • Three things to celebrate.
    • Three things to improve.
    • Three things to draw to the attention of the University and the partner organisation’s management.
  • Part 2. Once full evidence is available about the complete academic year, programme teams are asked to update the report with any additional information that is relevant. For example, the external examiner report may have come in, or there may be fuller information about student performance once the resit boards are complete.

The reason for completing Part 1 in July is to allow any proposed changes to be completed in time for the next academic year. However, it is recognised that collaborative programmes may have different academic calendars to the programmes delivered at QMU. Staff of Governance and Quality Enhancement will negotiate suitable deadlines for Part 1 with individual programme leaders and ALPs.

Part 2 reports must be provided by the end of October. This allows all reports to be compiled and considered at School level in time for the relevant committees. The University will provide statistical information on student performance in October to assist with completing Part 2.

For an exemplar of a completed report, click here.

The Academic Link Person will provide advice and support in preparing the report, which should be written by the programme leader. The report should be agreed by the Joint Board of Studies and submitted to the Division of Governance and Enhancement. Reports feed into the School composite report, which is considered by the School Academic Board.

As a result of this ongoing monitoring, the programme team may decide to modify the programme or individual modules. See Joint Boards of Studies and Committees above for information on the procedure to follow when making changes.

To make more substantial and far-reaching changes to a programme, you should go through a programme review. See below for more on this.

Risk Assessment and Monitoring

As part of on-going quality assurance, QMU regularly updates its risk assessments for each collaborative programme. This is important because:

  • It allows the University to act proactively to deal with areas of potential risk before they cause a problem.
  • It allows the University to tailor procedures appropriately, and devote staff resource where it is most needed to support partners.

In some cases a programme may score as high risk for a number of years in a row. If this happens, QMU obviously needs to consider carefully whether the programme should continue. Exceptionally, a partnership review may require to be undertaken.

Risk assessments are conducted by the Academic Link Person and a member of Governance and Quality Enhancement staff. The outcome is reported to the Head of Division and the School Academic Board. High risk programmes are reported to the Portfolio Development Group, which will decide whether further intervention is needed.

Sometimes political developments might affect the safety of QMU staff travelling to overseas countries. It is the responsibility of senior management to make the final decision on whether or not it is safe to travel. In some circumstances it may be necessary to hold exam boards or joint boards of studies via video conference as an alternative. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website is a good source of advice on security and logistical matters. Note that all staff travelling abroad on QMU business are covered by the University's travel insurance.

Programme Review

Programmes are approved for an agreed period, normally five years, after which they are subject to review. The aim of the review is to take an overview of the academic health of the programme, identify any issues that need to be addressed and confirm the continuing need for the programme in the target market. The programme leader will be required to produce a document evaluating the delivery of the programme, based on evidence from annual programme monitoring reports, external examiner reports, module evaluations and student staff committee meetings.

Assuming both partners wish to continue to offer the programme, the review event will be combined with a re-validation. This follows the same format as the initial validation. The re-validation is an opportunity to revise and update the programme in the light of the experience of the previous years. The review process normally includes preparation of a new Financial Appendix to the Memorandum of Agreement.

The Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement will alert the partner institution to the need for review before the start of the academic year. Teams should allow a minimum of six months to produce the review and validation documentation. The Academic Link Person and staff from the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement will advise on the process. It is the responsibility of the programme team to gather evidence for the review and to draft the review document. The ALP will read draft documents and provide comments.

Evidence used for the review will include:

  • student and graduate feedback
  • feedback from employers
  • external examiner reports, annual monitoring reports and committee minutes
  • the programme team's experience of delivering the programme

For more detail, see Guidance for Review and Validation.

Short Programmes are reviewed by the School Academic Board. For more detail, see Programme development, monitoring and review.


At the point of validation, the partner institution will be asked to provide details of the qualifications and experience of the teaching team. The validation panel will consider staff experience as part of the formal approval process. For Short Programmes the responsibility for approving staffing arrangements rests with the School Academic Board. Over the years there are likely be staff changes. Changes should be notified annually to the Joint Board of Studies. In particular, the Academic Link Person needs to be sent information regarding any change in Programme Leader.

Partner institutions should have in place effective measures to monitor and assure the proficiency of staff and identify any training needs.

QMU has a responsibility to provide opportunities for staff training to partner institutions. The exact level of training should be discussed when drawing up the Memorandum of Agreement and will be reflected in the price. However, as a minimum partner institutions can ask the Centre for Academic Practice to support the Academic Link Person in providing:

  • advice on setting assessments
  • advice on drawing up module descriptors and defining learning outcomes
  • advice on producing programme documents for validation
  • advice on provision of student feedback

Generic learning resources for use in working with partners can be sourced from the staff in Governance and Quality Enhancement on request.

Certificates of attendance can be provided for partner staff who attend development activities. The Facilitator of staff development activities should provide lists of attendees to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement who will provide certificates.

More advanced training, such as use of information and communication technology, can be negotiated with the Centre. Partners are also welcome to attend workshops at the University which are part of the normal staff development programme (subject to the availability of places). The Short Course in Learning, Teaching and Assessment is particularly recommended for staff of partner organisations.

Some staff may wish to enrol on our online PgCert in Professional and Higher Education. Usually some level of discount can be negotiated for partners.


Publicity and Marketing

QMU must approve all marketing and publicity materials which utilise the QMU logo. Such materials might include leaflets, posters, advertisements or information to appear on partners’ websites. The reason for this is to allow the University to check the information is accurate and up to date. Similarly, partner institutions may wish to check materials produced by QMU bearing the name or logo of the partner institution.

Some points to note:

  • Font sizes and colours for references to the University should be consistent with those used on the main partner website
  • The University’s name and logo should not be presented as page heading or in a larger format than that of the partner

The University will make available detailed guidance and will provide logos as needed.

We are happy to promote our partner institutions via our social media accounts. We particularly like to share stories about student and graduate successes. Partners and Academic Link staff may contact the QMU Marketing office with suggested stories to promote. Partners may also wish to follow our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Financial Arrangements

Financial arrangements must be detailed in the Memorandum of Agreement between the University and the partner organisation. If you have a specific question about the financial agreement, contact the partnerships team in Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE). All signed contracts are held in the GQE office.

There will normally be a fee charged for the development of new programmes and for validation events. This fee is in addition to the annual fees payable. It relates to the staff time involved in helping to prepare documentation, plus the organisation of the validation event itself. Approval lasts for five years. After that a review and revalidation must take place, for which there will be a further fee.

Some collaborations will include a de minimis payment, whereby some fee will be payable to QMU every year, regardless of how many students are registered on the programme.

Invoices are normally issued in November or December by the Assistant Secretary (Records and Academic Administration). In most partnerships, QMU invoices the partner and the partner charges fees to students or sponsoring employers.

For many programmes, a separate project code will be set up for internal QMU accounting. Travel and other expenses will normally be charged to this budget. ALPs should liaise with their School Manager for advice on how to handle financial processes.

Regular planning meetings may be held between the Dean, Academic Link Person and Partnership Development Manager to review the status of the financial memorandum for each collaboration.

Central Record Keeping

An up to date register of all approved collaborative arrangements will be maintained by the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement.

A list of collaborative partners is available in the Partnerships section of this website as part of the University’s public information. Greater detail is available to QMU staff via a shared drive, set up to store information about collaborative partnerships. Any new staff who do not have access to this drive should contact the School Office for permissions. The shared drive includes:

  • List of collaborations
  • Joint Board of Studies minutes and papers
  • Generic staff development resources
  • Handbooks and other information

It is the responsibility of GQE to alert the host Division and partner institution when a programme is due for review, and when the Memorandum of Agreement needs to be reviewed. However, the partner institution and Academic Link Person should also make themselves aware of upcoming review deadlines.

GQE keeps one copy of the signed Memorandum of Agreement. The other copy is kept by the partner institution.

Freedom of Information and Data Protection

As a publicly funded body, QMU is subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. This means any information or records held by the University relating to collaborations may be disclosed under the Act unless specific exemptions apply. (In some cases, for example, details may be withheld because of commercial sensitivity.) For more information see the QMU Freedom of Information web page.

Data Protection

The main law preventing the disclosure of personal information (including sensitive information) is the Data Protection Act 1998, which protects the confidentiality of individuals’ personal information.

Under the Data Protection Act, personal data must:

  • be obtained and processed fairly and lawfully and cannot be processed unless certain conditions are met.
  • be obtained for a specified and lawful purpose and cannot be processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose.
  • be adequate, relevant and not excessive for those purposes.
  • be accurate and kept up to date.
  • not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose.
  • be processed in accordance with the data subject's rights.
  • be kept secure from unauthorised access, accidental loss or destruction.
  • not be transferred to a country outside the European Economic Area, unless that country has equivalent levels of protection for personal data.

The University and partner institutions must ensure that they follow these Data Protection Principles at all times. Further details of QMU’s Data Protection Policy are available here.

In terms of the day to day operation of the course, there are some issues to be aware of that are highlighted below:

  • Staff should not give out information about students to any third party without the student’s consent. If QMU wants to share sensitive or confidential information to a third party, consent of the student is required, for example requests from the student’s family on their progress/performance etc.
  • Information can be shared between staff as long as the sharing is reasonable and expected as part of the operation of the programme.
  • Security of data is very important. It is essential that there are procedures in place to stop unauthorised people getting access to student files. Particular care must be taken with transfer of information between QMU and partner institutions to ensure the security of data.
  • Data must be disposed of securely once it is no longer needed.
  • The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held about them. This is done through a subject access request, which allows a student access to the information QMU holds about them, including their student file. Their file may include completed forms, formal records of meetings and less formal correspondence, for example emails or other correspondence.

Further Information and Recommended Reading

Further information and hard copies of this Manual are available from:

Kirsty Wilson, Partnership Development Officer Telephone: 0131 474 0000

Feedback can be submitted electronically to Dawn Martin, Assistant Secretary, Governance and Quality Enhancement or to Sheila Adamson, Partnership Development Manager.


Recommended reading:

Staff engaging in collaborative provision are advised to read the following publications, which are available from the QAA website:

UK Quality Code for Higher Education - Chapter B10: Managing higher education provision with others

Chapter B10: Managing higher education provision with others refers specifically to managing partnership arrangements. All collaborative provision is also subject to the full Quality code for higher education in relation to learning, teaching, assessment, student support etc.

Note that the UK Quality Code is currently under review. However, the detailed information and guidance in Chapter B10 remains an important source of information about good practice in the management of collaborative provision.

The QAA regularly conducts audits of overseas provision. The reports can be accessed here:

Information about joint, double and dual awards: QAA guidance on qualifications involving more than one awarding body (October 2015).


Key contacts

School Office (student records, matriculation, exam boards, transcripts) -

Governance & Quality Enhancement (annual monitoring, external examining, regulations, changes to modules, joint boards of studies, contracts, staff IT accounts) -

Hub support -

Lapsed staff password -

Library help -




Collaborations and Partnership Development

Show Contacts

Collaborations and Partnership Development

Sheila Adamson Partnership Development Manager
0131 474 0000