5.2 - 5.6 Introduction to collaborative provision

  • 2.1 The University adopts the definition of collaborative provision (previously set out in the UK Quality Code, B10) as any learning opportunities leading or contributing to the award of academic credit or a qualification that are delivered, assessed or supported through an arrangement with one or more other organisations. That is, any arrangement in which Oxford Brookes awards a qualification or credit, on the basis of education provided by, with or at another organisation, either in the UK or elsewhere in the world.

    2.2As noted in 1.2 above, the University recognises that it has ultimate responsibility for the academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities on all programmes of study leading to its awards, wherever or however they are delivered, and this principle underpins the procedures for the approval, monitoring and review of its collaborative provision (set out in the sections below).

    2.3 The University’s approach to collaborative provision is driven by its mission and corporate aims, to “…develop mutually beneficial partnerships to facilitate the application of the university’s education, research, and knowledge transfer nationally and internationally…” More details of the University’s 2020 Strategy can be found on the Strategy 2020 webpage

    2.4 Oxford Brookes is also committed to widening participation in higher education within the region, in particular through its Associate College Partnership (ACP) network; and has a number of other, non-ACP, partners in the UK, delivering a range of programmes in specialist discipline areas. The University’s International Strategy provides a framework for the development of international partnerships.

    2.5 The University’s current collaborative provision register can be found on the APQO website.

    3.1 Some of the common models for collaborative arrangements at Oxford Brookes are described in the following paragraphs. In practice, arrangements in place with individual partner organisations may consist of a combination of several of these different types of provision; and approval panels must ensure that they give appropriate consideration to the different aspects of collaborative proposals.

    3.2 Associate College Partnership (ACP) provision

    The standard ACP delivery model involves the franchising of student numbers from the University to the ACP partner, for the delivery of programmes that have been developed in collaboration between the University and one or more ACP members. Students have enrolled status both at the partner College and at the University.

    The current members of the ACP are:

    • Abingdon & Witney College
    • Activate Learning
      • Banbury & Bicester College
      • Bracknell & Wokingham College
      • City of Oxford College
      • Reading College
    • Bridgwater and Taunton College
    • Brooklands College
    • Solihull College & University Centre
    • Swindon College
    • Wiltshire College

    Details of the ACP members and the Brookes programmes they offer are available on the foundation degrees and partnership courses page

    The provision delivered by ACP partner colleges primarily consists of foundation degree programmes, and level 6 Honours degree top-up courses, jointly developed by the University and the partner colleges for delivery by any or all of the members of the ACP who can demonstrate - through the formal approval processes - that they have the capacity to offer the programme/s. In these cases, measures are taken to ensure the equivalence of academic standards and the quality of the learning experience across delivery sites (including, in the case of some programmes, at the University). The ACP portfolio has also included some level 7 provision, in a few cases where a partner college has been able to provide appropriate academic expertise; and there are instances in which Brookes programmes may be delivered by flying faculty on ACP partner college premises.

    3.3 Flying faculty

    This type of provision involves the delivery of a programme - either new or existing - entirely by Brookes staff, to a separate cohort of students at a location other than the University campuses. Under this arrangement, the University retains full responsibility for, and directly manages, the quality and standards of the programme. The responsibilities of the partner are usually limited to the provision of teaching accommodation and, possibly, learning resources - they are also likely to have responsibilities relating to marketing and recruitment.

    3.4 Articulation agreement

    The University recognises and grants credit for guaranteed entry onto the later stage of a programme leading to a Brookes award, to students completing a named programme of study in a partner organisation. An articulation agreement may be a standalone arrangement, but is more usually coupled with a wider collaborative arrangement in which it leads to entry onto a franchise of the later stages of a Brookes programme delivered by the same partner. Note: Where entry to the Brookes programme is conditional on some check on the applicant’s prior learning or achievement, this is known as a progression arrangement, which is not considered to be collaborative provision and is therefore not covered here. The granting of advanced standing (or credit entry) to individuals on a one-off basis is dealt with through the APL process.

    3.5 Credit-rating arrangement

    The University recognises and awards credit for successful completion of modules/short courses offered by another organisation.

    3.6 Franchised provision leading to an Oxford Brookes award or credit

    The University authorises the delivery of all or part of one of its own approved programmes by a partner organisation. The University, as awarding body, retains overall responsibility for the programme content, the teaching and assessment strategy, the assessment regime and quality assurance. Students may either be enrolled or (normally, for international partners) registered with the University [see also section 5 below].

    3.7 Validation arrangements

    The University recognises a programme of study, designed and offered by another organisation, as being of an appropriate standard and quality to lead to a Brookes award or credit. Students are always enrolled with the partner organisation and registered with the University for the purposes of making the award on successful completion of the programme [see also section 5 below].

    3.8 Jointly-Provided programmes

    The University collaborates with one or more providers to jointly design a programme of study, and deliver it via an arrangement where students study in one or more of them. When such programmes are designed and delivered with other degree-awarding bodies, they may lead to either dual/multiple awards or a joint award. The term ‘jointly-provided’ refers to the educational experience provided rather than, necessarily, to the nature of the award, and examples of jointly-provided programmes leading to a single (Oxford Brookes) award include those developed in partnership with ACP members.

    4.1 There are some aspects of collaborative provision that potentially challenge the University’s ability to secure the quality of the student learning experience and assure the standards of the awards it will be making. It is therefore important that careful consideration is given to the arrangements that will need to be put in place to ensure the success of the partnership - robust initial and ongoing risk assessments are key to this. Some of the issues that may apply are described below, in relation to:

    • Flying faculty delivery
    • Jointly-provided programmes involving more than one awarding body
    • Study/assessment in a language other than English
    • Professional accreditation
    • Serial arrangements

    4.2 Flying Faculty

    4.2.1 This model is generally considered to be low risk in respect of the awarding body’s ability to directly assure academic quality and standards, but it can be an expensive model to deliver because of the demands on staff time. For international arrangements, delivery teams also need to be alert to any changes to in-country permissions to operate, and to Government advice on political situations that could potentially put University staff at risk.

    4.3 Programmes leading to joint or dual/multiple awards

    4.3.1 See guidance on Qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding body (QAA, Oct 2015): which also includes a note on research degrees offered by one or more awarding bodies.

    4.3.2 The University has the legal powers to allow it to collaborate with other degree-awarding bodies - in the UK or abroad - to jointly provide programmes of study which lead to joint, dual or multiple awards. However, it should be noted that UK degree-awarding bodies are not permitted to make arrangements for students to receive a UK degree alongside that of a non-UK degree-awarding body where the UK degree-awarding body has had negligible input to the design of the programme and little control over its delivery. UK degree-awarding bodies are also expected to maintain awareness of how their programmes and academic credit are used, in order to avoid the situation where a non-UK degree-awarding body makes an award without the knowledge of the UK degree-awarding body, to a student who has completed a programme of study designed to lead to a UK qualification offered through a franchise or validation arrangement.

    4.3.3 As a general guide (for reputational reasons), jointly delivered programmes of study leading to dual/multiple or joint awards should not be offered in partnership with institutions that would not meet the threshold criteria for taught degree-awarding powers in the UK. Certificates and transcripts should refer to the other partner/s and make it clear that they refer to the completion of a single, jointly-conceived programme of study.

    4.3.4 Any programmes of study leading to dual/multiple or joint awards must meet both the expectations of the Framework for HE Qualifications (in EWNI) and of any other relevant national qualifications frameworks. Partnerships with existing partners currently delivering through a franchise arrangement, who subsequently gain and wish to exercise their own degree awarding powers alongside those of the University, may need to be renegotiated and redefined as more of a ‘mutual recognition’ arrangement.

    4.3.5 A programme of study leading to a dual or multiple award involves each partner granting a separate award (at the same level) based on the same programme of study and assessed work. Responsibility for the quality and standards of each award rests with the relevant awarding body and cannot be shared between the partners – each partner applies its own regulations for making awards and for quality assurance, hence the requirement for comparability of academic standards, as described above. The University should be alert to the potential for doubling the credit value (for the purposes of credit accumulation and transfer) of individual modules completed, and should ensure that the award certificate and/or transcript provides sufficient information to clarify that a single programme of study delivered in collaboration with one or more partners has led to multiple awards.

    4.3.6 Joint awards involve the granting of a single award for successful completion of a programme of study which has been designed and delivered by two or more institutions, who have combined their degree awarding powers for the purposes of making the award. In this case, the University must ensure that the legal basis on which the award is made is sound (i.e. the partner has the legal and regulatory capacity to make awards in collaboration with other institutions), especially where it involves pooling degree awarding powers granted within different legal jurisdictions. The responsibility for the quality and academic standards of the award is shared between the awarding bodies, and requires careful work to align that regulations and quality assurance processes for the programme (providing a framework for admissions, assessment, progression and making awards) to ensure standards are secured. Joint award arrangements tend to pose a greater level of institutional risk than those for dual/multiple awards; however, they offer the opportunity to work in association with high quality partner HE providers.

    4.4 Professional accreditation

    4.4.1 In some cases, collaborative programmes leading to Brookes awards are accredited by a professional body, and the University is therefore additionally responsible for ensuring that the professional – as well as academic - standards continue to be met. The loss of professional accreditation is damaging to the University’s reputation, and is likely to adversely affect student recruitment; and professional competencies are often delivered and assessed via placements provided by third parties. The failure of a programme to retain professional accreditation is therefore considered to be a key area of risk, which must be carefully monitored by the managing Faculty.

    4.5 Language of study

    4.5.1 A small (and declining) number of the University’s collaborative programmes offered by international partners are taught and assessed in a language other than English. This enables Brookes to reach a broader market within those countries than it would normally have access to, but has implications for the University’s ability to assure itself of the academic quality and standards of that provision.

    4.5.2 In particular, assessment in a foreign language introduces risks to the University’s ability to maintain control of the academic standards of its awards and make judgements about the standards of student achievement, and appropriate measures must be put in place to manage this risk, taking into account the costs and availability of good quality translation services. New proposals for collaborative programmes delivered and/or assessed in a language other than English will not normally be accepted, except in the case of an existing partner delivering in that language or where LPAG is provided with evidence that the benefits of the partnership are likely to substantially outweigh the risks associated with delivery in a foreign language.

    4.5.3 Proposing teams must consider the following issues:

    1. the continuing availability of external examiners who are able to work easily in all languages involved, and are familiar with the academic standards expected of UK awards in the discipline;
    2. the arrangements which will be put in place to ensure the accurate translation of assessed student work (noting that such intervention has the potential to advantage or disadvantage students), programme information, handbooks, marketing materials, etc;
    3. the proposed liaison manager’s ability to work in the languages involved, and how their access to the staff, provision and the students studying on the programme/s will be facilitated to enable them to assure the University of the effective day to day management of the provision;
    4. the exit strategy, including the teaching out arrangements should it be necessary to withdraw from the relationship.

    4.5.4 The language of instruction and/or assessment is recorded on the certificate or transcript, as specified in the Operations Manual.

    4.6 Serial arrangements

    4.6.1 A serial arrangement is one in which the University enters into a collaborative arrangement with a partner organisation who, in turn, uses this as a basis for entering into collaborative arrangements of their own with a third party to offer the University’s awards. A key risk is that serial arrangements can seriously jeopardise an institution’s ability to know what is being delivered in its name. Faculty Executive Groups and LPAG should therefore not permit such proposals to proceed to approval panel stage, other than in exceptional circumstances in which the University has a direct involvement in the assessment of all students on the programmes leading to its awards.

    5.1 It is important for Brookes staff and partner organisations to be clear about the status of the students studying on a programme leading to a Brookes award or credit, and to consider the entitlements this confers upon them. Many students studying on collaborative programmes are enrolled with the organisation delivering their programme of study, and are only registered with Oxford Brookes for the purposes of making the final award on successful completion of the approved programme.

    5.2 There is a difference in contractual relationship between the University and students with enrolled and registered status. The contract of an enrolled student is between the University and the student; whereas with a registered student the contract is primarily between the student and the partner organisation; while the University has the relationship with the partner.

    5.3 Enrolled status generally applies to students who are funded by a UK funding body (such as those studying at the University’s partner FE colleges), or where at least 50% of their programme is taught by University staff off-campus in the UK or abroad (flying faculty); and these students may have similar access to University resources and facilities as those studying on-campus, depending on the terms of the contract between Oxford Brookes and the partner organisation.

    5.4 Registered status does not (unless specifically negotiated and costed, and written into the agreement governing the partnership) allow for access to Brookes learning resources and support services, and, in these cases, approval panels must therefore satisfy themselves that the partner organisation is able to provide the appropriate resources and support for learning for successful delivery of the programme.

    6.1 The certificates and/or transcripts for awards for collaborative programmes must record the name of the partner, location of study, and the language of study (if not English). Certificates/transcripts for dual awards should also be clear about the nature of the programme of study which led to the award being made, to avoid the danger of mis-representation of the award (see 4.3 above).

    6.2 Enrolled students are invited to attend graduation ceremonies at Brookes, while awards ceremonies for registered students will be held at the partner’s premises. Liaison Managers should liaise with the Academic Office (Graduation Team) to ensure the appropriate arrangements are made.