Definitions

(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: http://libguides.qmu.ac.uk/FindingMyVoice/Home 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: www.qaa.ac.uk 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: www.scqf.org.uk  
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 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 'concurrent' arrangements may also be classed as double degree (see below).

  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 but wishes also to offer validation by a UK university in order to give the qualification greater international recognition. 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.

Collaborations and Partnership Development

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Collaborations and Partnership Development

Sheila Adamson Partnership Development Manager
0131 474 0000