Academic collaboration - partners with degree-awarding powers

Collaborative agreements with partners that have degree awarding powers

14.1   Partnerships may be established with institutions that have their own degree awarding powers. In such cases, both partners will require to be assured that the academic standards of the award have been met. Quality assurance arrangements will need to take into account the needs of the partner’s quality assurance processes. In some cases a single certificate will be awarded to successful students (joint degree). In others two separate certificates may be awarded by each partner (double or dual degree). For the purposes of these regulations, such arrangements will be referred to generically as joint/dual degrees.

14.2  Proposals for new joint/dual degree arrangements must go to the Academic Planning Board (APB). Stage 1 and Stage 2 programme approval forms will be required. The Stage 2 form must be accompanied by a risk assessment and due diligence information about the partner. In particular, APB will want to be assured that confidence can be placed in the partner university’s academic standards and quality assurance processes, and that any credits to be transferred are equivalent in academic level. Normally, a site visit will be undertaken, although this may be waived for existing partners, recognised UK universities or European universities with a full Erasmus charter.

14.3   Following Stage 2 approval, the Academic Planning Board will determine the appropriate method for final academic approval of the programme, depending on the type of arrangement that is proposed. The table below provides guidance (see Section 3 for definitions):

Academic approvals for collaborative programmes
Degree type Curriculum design Approval mechanism
Joint Developed by both partners

Stage 3 SAB approval

Validation event
Double Developed by both partners

Stage 3 SAB approval

Validation event
Dual Standard QMU degree used as credit towards Partner's award SAB approval only
Dual Credit transfer between each award towards the other

Stage 3 SAB approval

Validation event (see 14.13)

14.4     Once the arrangement has been approved, the joint/dual degree will be subject to quality assurance as for a standalone programme. A Programme Leader / Collaborative Academic Lead will be appointed, who will lead the QMU delivered elements of the programme and liaise with the partner institution. The Programme Leader will complete an annual programme monitoring report in collaboration with the programme leader at the partner institution.

14.5     Except where special joint regulations are agreed between the partners, programmes will be governed by the QMU governance and regulations and must comply with standard quality assurance procedures.

14.6     Where both partners are UK universities, it may be appropriate for one partner to take the role of administering university, with that university’s procedures being followed. The other partner may delegate certain aspects of quality assurance to the administering university. However, all awards must be ratified by the Senate (or equivalent body) of each partner. Administering university status may rotate between partners.

14.7     An external examiner will be appointed for the programme and to review modules delivered at QMU. Quality reports from each partner institution will be shared for information. The decision as to whether to require external examiner scrutiny of modules delivered by the partner will be made on the basis of the risk assessment through the formal approval process. For programmes delivered by two UK universities, a single examiner will be appointed on behalf of both partners.

14.8     The arrangement will be covered by a Memorandum of Agreement with the partner institution, which will include on-going quality assurance arrangements to enable each partner to maintain confidence in the academic validity of the modules delivered and assessed by the other.

14.9     A joint board of studies or joint programme committee will normally be convened annually to oversee the operation of the programme and make recommendations regarding any changes to modules or programme specific regulations. Any changes to modules contributing to the programme must be notified to the other partner.

14.10   Where the programme is jointly designed and awarded, the credits delivered and assessed by the partner organisation will be treated as validated by QMU and will be fully integrated into the award. Therefore regulations on the maximum amount of credit that may be awarded through Recognition of Prior Learning do not apply. QMU must take steps to satisfy itself of the academic standard of the modules delivered by the partner and the quality assurance mechanisms applied. Normally, students on such programmes will receive a grade for all modules. Grade-mark conversion schemes to align different assessment systems must be agreed between the partners.

14.11   For those arrangements for which graduates receive two certificates, the certificates and transcripts will contain a statement clarifying the nature of the dual/double degree arrangement.

Special types of arrangement

14.12   The University may wish to enter into credit transfer agreements with other universities that lead to the potential award of dual degrees. In terms of such agreements each partner agrees to accept credits earned through study at the other institution towards an award of the home institution. These agreements differ from exchange agreements in that they lead to the award of degrees from both institutions, providing students satisfy the minimum conditions of award for each partner.

14.13   A dual degree and credit transfer arrangement will be submitted for approval as a separate award in its own right (although linked to the original QMU degree). Stage 3 documentation outlining the proposed structure will go to the School Academic Board. A programme approval event will then be convened. The documentation for this will be as for a normal approval, but may incorporate documentation from the partner institution regarding the elements of the programme that will be taught by the partner. The programme documentation must clearly set out how credit from the partner institution may be used towards the existing award and provide confirmation that the overall programme learning outcomes will be met. Normally, a mapping of the partner’s modules against the overall programme learning outcomes will be required.

14.14   When the parent programme is due for review the credit transfer / dual degree arrangement must be approved at the same time, so as to take into account any changes to modules and programme structure.

14.15   Modules delivered by another organisation as part of a dual degree / credit transfer agreement will normally be recorded on the transcript as an award of credit only with no grade or mark. No more than 50% of the final award may be made up of credits from other providers.

14.16   In some agreements a full QMU award may be used in its entirety towards another university’s award. In this case, no credits from another award contribute to the QMU award. Quality assurance arrangements are therefore much simpler. The arrangement may be approved through the School Academic Board, without the need for a validation event. No separate annual monitoring report is required. Nonetheless, appropriate arrangements should be put in place to liaise with the partner institution, confirm that the agreement remains fit for purpose and to oversee the quality of the student experience.

14.17   The University may enter into consortium arrangements with multiple partners, for example in order to deliver an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree. In this case a consortium agreement will be signed by all partners, setting out the governance and quality assurance arrangements. Students may undertake modules from two or more partners. In this case, certificates will include only the names and crests of those partners involved in delivery.

14.18   Joint degrees that are delivered with a European university may require to be approved by an external quality assurance agency in that country. The University will comply with the expectations of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of joint programmes.