5.19 - 5.20 Monitoring and review of collaborative provision

  • 19.1 The monitoring of the academic quality and standards of collaborative provision takes place through a number of mechanisms:

    • Liaison Manager visits (19.2 – 19.4)
    • External examiner reports (19.5 – 19.10)
    • Programme Committees, and other forums/mechanisms for eliciting feedback from students (19.11)
    • Annual programme review reports (19.12)
    • Monitoring and review of risk registers and risk improvement plans (19.13)

    Liaison Managers

    19.2 A suitably qualified and experienced person must be appointed (by the PVC/Dean of Faculty, on the recommendation of the relevant Head of Department/School) as Liaison Manager, for all collaborative arrangements. This is a key role in the effective management of the University’s collaborative arrangements; and Liaison Managers play a crucial part in ensuring that programmes are being delivered as approved, and the quality and standards of the University’s awards are being protected. The Liaison Manager role description and person specification is available on the APQO website - it is also included in the Operations Manual, and may be tailored, if necessary, according to the needs of the collaborative arrangements.

    19.3 In the case of the Associate College Partnership, individual Liaison Managers are appointed with respect to individual programmes; however, the Head of UK Partnerships provides an additional operational link between the University and ACP members. This includes working with Associate Deans (Strategy & Development) to agree target student numbers and financial arrangements. The UK Partnerships team is also responsible for managing and servicing the ACP Steering Group.

    19.4 For articulation arrangements, the Liaison Manager should make an annual visit to the partner, to attend the examination committee and meet with students to provide advice and support to those who are planning to progress to the Brookes programme. The Liaison Manager must produce an annual moderation report (using template T5.11), covering the standards of student work and the operation of the assessment process, in order to provide assurance that the standards of student achievement on the partner programme/s remain appropriate for entry to the Brookes programme/s.

    External examiners

    19.5 External examiners have a key role to play in assuring the University of the academic standards of awards delivered through collaborative arrangements, either in the UK or abroad. The University retains responsibility for the academic standards of any awards made in its name and is responsible for the appointment and role of external examiners for collaborative provision, as set out in the external examining policy (which can be found in the University Regulations: A3.7).

    19.6 External examiners should be appointed for all collaborative programmes that lead to an award or credit of the University, including dual awards, short courses (above level 4), etc. The university retains responsibility for the appointment of external examiners for collaborative provision, although the partner may make suggestions for examiners. The examiner must be independent of both the partner and the University, and is primarily acting on behalf of the University in enabling it to maintain oversight of the standards of its awards.

    19.7 In order to enable the University to make a comparison of the standards of its awards delivered at home and through collaborative arrangements, it is good practice to appoint an external examiner to oversee both the home and the collaborative programmes. If, for logistical reasons, an examiner only examines on the collaborative programme, efforts should be made to provide a sample of work by home students to enable them to make a comparison of standards of achievement. Where there is no matching home programme, an external examiner for a programme within a cognate discipline area should be asked to examine the collaborative programme, if possible. Examiners are asked to make it clear in their reports which of their comments apply to the home programme and which to the provision delivered in each partner organisation.

    19.8 For provision delivered in a language other than English, an external examiner who is able to work fluently in both English and the language of delivery (as well as meeting the other criteria for appointment) should be appointed. Non-UK based external examiners must have experience of delivering and assessing in a UK HEI. If this is not possible, a non-UK subject specialist may be paired with an examiner from a UK HEI.

    19.9 External examiners must approve the assignment briefs and examination papers in the same way as for home provision, and an explanation for any variation in assessment strategies for home and franchised collaborative programmes should be provided; for example, to explain how it has been tailored to the local context.

    19.10 For articulation arrangements, the external examiner for the Brookes award to which students gain entry should be provided with the Liaison Manager’s report referred to in 11.4 above (along with their samples of assessed work and other documentation associated with the franchised Brookes programme to which students gain entry) so that they may comment in their report on whether the standards of achievement on the partner programme meet the threshold for the Brookes awards. The external examiner may also, if they wish, request to view samples of student work on the partner programme.

    Programme committees

    19.11 All partnerships must have programme committees (or an equivalent to the Subject Committees for home provision), of which the Brookes Liaison Manager must be a member and, as a minimum, receive the agendas, papers and minutes. The standard terms of reference, which are based on those for Subject Committees for home provision, are set out in the Operations Manual template and should be modified as necessary to reflect the provision covered in the document. Programme committees must consider feedback from students, and the minutes should provide information to students about how their comments are to be acted upon.

    Annual programme review

    19.12 All collaborative provision is subject to the University’s annual programme review requirements, as set out in the Quality & Standards Handbook: chapter 3 (further information about the process for collaborative partnerships, and the reporting templates, can be found in section 4 of this chapter). Annual review is the point in the year at which programme teams should reflect on the effectiveness of delivery arrangements as set out in the Operations Manual, and the risk register should be reviewed and updated at the same time (see 19.14 below).

    Monitoring and review of risk register and action plans

    19.13 The implementation of all actions within risk improvement plans must be monitored and confirmed by updating the ‘Status’ field. Plans should be updated by the Liaison Manager and monitored by the Faculty Executive (for business/financial risks), or the Faculty AESC (for risks relating to academic delivery). The minimum expectation is for the plans to be updated at least once during the first year and as part of the annual review process. However, depending on the nature and timing of the actions, and the overall risk profile, more frequent updates may be necessary. If there is an increase in the level of risk, for example, because insufficient progress is being made on actions, this should be reported to LPAG (via the ADSD) or CPSC (via the ADSE), depending on the nature of the risk. LPAG may indicate that they wish to receive updates on action plans for specific risks, at the point at which they give approval for a partnership, if they feel it is necessary.

    19.14 At each annual programme review, the risk register should be reviewed by the Liaison Manager, with assistance from the ADSE, ADSD, and the Faculty Head of Finance & Planning. At this point in the year:

    • the existing risk improvement plans should be checked to ensure all actions are complete;
    • any time-expired risks should be closed down;
    • any risks carried forward should be re-assessed;
    • new risks, if applicable, should be added and assessed;
    • new risk improvement plans, if needed, should be developed.

    Faculties should refer to the guidance on risk assessment on the APQO website (G5.2), if required. The revised risk register, and any associated action plans, should then be approved by the Faculty Executive, and monitored as before.

    20.1 The five-yearly periodic review of collaborative provision is a two-stage process, through which the University:

    1. reviews individual partnership arrangements, through refreshed due diligence enquiries, assessments of ongoing market demand and re-negotiated financial agreements, prior to the renewal of a contract;
    2. assures itself of the security of the academic standards of programmes of study which are delivered through partnership arrangements and lead to Oxford Brookes awards; and that a high quality learning experience is being provided by the partner organisation, which enables students to achieve good outcomes.

    20.2 Periodic review should usually take place at least 15 months prior to the expiry of the contract, since permission to recruit to the collaborative programme/s is suspended in the last year of the contract, pending a successful outcome of the review. This is so that no students may be recruited for a start date beyond the date of expiry of the current contract until a satisfactory periodic review has taken place, in order to allow time to change or terminate the partnership without prejudicing existing applicants. However, this may vary according to the frequency of intakes, and the recruitment cycle, for different partnerships. The renewal of the contract between the University and the partner is dependent on the satisfactory resolution of all conditions set by the periodic review panel.

    Review of the partnership

    20.3 Partnership review focuses on the track record of the partnership and its future direction and sustainability, as well as the mechanisms in place to enable the ongoing management of the delivery and quality assurance of the programmes of study involved. Partnership agreements for the delivery of specific collaborative arrangements are signed for a maximum period of five years, and - if the contract is to be renewed - LPAG approval for continuation of the arrangements must be sought prior to carrying out the quinquennial academic review of the provision. A submission to LPAG is not required if the contract is not to be renewed, as the provisions of the current contract will remain in force while existing students - recruited prior to the expiry date - complete their studies. However, the programme/s must still undergo periodic programme review (see 20.7 below) in order to ensure that standards and quality are maintained for the remaining students during the teach-out period.

    20.4 Renewal submissions must be made to LPAG on the appropriate Collaborative Partnership Renewal Form: CPRF1 should be used for non-ACP partners; CPRF2 for ACP members; and CPPRF3 for credit rating and articulation arrangements. The CPRF primarily focuses on refreshing the financial, legal and academic due diligence enquiries and analysing the track record of the partnership since it was last approved or renewed. LPAG will assess the recruitment to the programme/s over the previous five years and consider whether convincing evidence of a continuing market for the provision is presented in the CPRF; and they will consider whether the partnership still fits with Faculty and University strategic priorities.

    20.5 New programmes are often added to a partner organisation’s portfolio of provision leading to Oxford Brookes awards as the partnership develops and strengthens. Individual legal agreements are drawn up to cover each programme (or group of programmes approved at the same time)*, so they are not required to follow the same five-year cycle, unless a shorter initial period of approval is applied to new additions to the portfolio for the purpose of synchronising the reviews. It is therefore likely that programmes delivered by the same partner will be subject to periodic review at different times; however, a CPRF submission to LPAG is required for each programme (or cognate group of programmes) as they become due for review - even if other programmes in the portfolio have recently been reviewed - so that LPAG can take a view on the market demand and business case for each aspect of the portfolio with that partner.

    *NOTE: ‘umbrella’ agreements are being introduced for each ACP partner from 2018, with all programmes delivered by each college being subsumed into the single agreement as they complete their five year reviews. However, programmes will remain on their existing periodic review cycle under the umbrella contracts.

    20.6 It is also possible that the same provision may be delivered by a number of partner organisations: this is especially the case within the ACP. It is desirable that these programmes should be reviewed at the same time for all partners involved in its delivery, in case curriculum changes are required in order to maintain currency. Therefore, if a college is approved to commence delivery of the same programme which is already provided by one or more ACP members, the initial period of approval for that programme may be set so as to be coterminous with the other partners.

    Periodic programme review

    20.7 The focus of the periodic review as a reflection on the quality of the student learning experience and the standards of student achievement, and on the arrangements for managing and enhancing the provision, is similar to that set out for home programmes (see Chapter 4 of the Quality & Standards Handbook); and the documentation requirements are also the same. The constitution of the periodic review panel is also the same as for home programmes, except that it does not have to include a student panel member. However, the periodic review of collaborative provision differs from periodic review for home provision in that reviews are held after a maximum of five years; and the process incorporates both a review and re-approval of the delivery and management arrangements for the provision, so that any changes to the provision can be incorporated into the process. The review therefore follows a similar pattern to the approval processes described in the sections (from 8 onwards) of this chapter, and the outcomes of the review will be as described in section 17. The review of collaborative provision also involves meeting with senior staff at the partner organisation in order to confirm their commitment to the partnership as approved by LPAG. In most cases, the periodic review is held at the partner’s premises (but see section 9 above).

    20.8 Articulation arrangements should also be reviewed every five years – this exercise should be carried out as part of the periodic review of the programme to which entry is granted, if that programme is also delivered by the same partner. If the articulation arrangement guarantees entry to an on-campus programme, the review may be combined with the periodic review of the home programme, if the timescales coincide.