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 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 Collaborative Academic Lead (CAL) 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 CAL and Dean and considered by the School Executive Board (SEB).
  4. A senior member of staff conducts site visit and feeds back to PDM. PDM and CAL complete risk assessment. PDM conducts detailed due diligence checks. CAL and PDM undertake detailed costings.
  5. Stage 2 approval form completed by CAL and Dean and considered by the Academic Planning Board (APB) along with risk assessment, site report and costings
  6. Provisional financial arrangements agreed by Dean and negotiated with partner.
  7. CAL and programme leader at partner start detailed planning. Provisional date for approval visit set. PDM commences discussion of the Memorandum of Agreement.
  8. CAL 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 on behalf of Senate.
  13. Conditions met
  14. Local Support Centre Agreement signed by Principal and senior representative of partner institution.
  15. Programme commences


Collaborations and Partnership Development

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Collaborations and Partnership Development

Sheila Adamson Partnership Development Manager 0131 474 0000