Partnership agreements are normally signed for a maximum period of five years (unless a longer contractual period is agreed in order to meet relevant national regulatory requirements), at which point a resubmission to LPAG is required, in order to refresh the due diligence enquiries and confirm that the partnership still fits with current strategic priorities. If LPAG approval is given for the continuation of the partnership, this is followed by a review and revalidation exercise, which must have a successful outcome to allow continued recruitment to the programme/s delivered by the partner, and renewal of the legal contract.
Timing of revalidation
The standard length of contract for all types of collaborative arrangements is five years, but an approval or review and revalidation panel has the discretion to set a shorter approval period if they consider that the partner’s capacity to meet the criteria for approval is limited and requires an early review. There is also provision for carrying out a review and revalidation earlier than the full term of approval, where:
- the University programme (where there is equivalent on-campus provision) undergoes revision
- the partner revises their programme (in the case of validation, credit rating or articulation arrangements)
- student performance data, or other evidence, gives cause for concern about academic standards on the partner programme
- there are changes to national permissions and regulations, or to professional body requirements, that impact significantly on the operation of the programme
The five-yearly revalidation and renewal of collaborative provision is a two-stage process, through which the University:
- reviews (via LPAG) 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
- assures itself (via a validation panel) 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, enabling students to achieve good outcomes.
Revalidation 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 approval exercise. 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 review and revalidation 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, and advice on the timing of the review and revalidation should be sought from the Faculty link QAO. The renewal of the contract between the University and the partner is dependent on the satisfactory resolution of all conditions set by the revalidation panel.
Timing of reviews for groups of programmes or delivery partners (e.g. ACP, institutional partnerships)
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 were introduced for each ACP partner from 2018-19, with all programmes delivered by each college being subsumed into the single agreement as they complete their five yearly reviews. However, programmes will remain on their existing revalidation cycle under the umbrella contracts.
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.
Stage 1: Review of the partnership
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. If a contract is to be renewed at the end of its five year approval period, LPAG approval for continuation of the collaborative arrangements must be sought prior to carrying out the quinquennial revalidation 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 – i.e. recruited prior to the expiry date - complete their studies. However, the programme/s must still undergo a review in order to ensure that standards and quality are maintained for the remaining students during the teach-out period.
Articulation arrangements should also be reviewed every five years – this exercise should be carried out as part of the review and revalidation 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 review and revalidation of the home programme, if the timescales coincide.
Collaborative Provision Renewal Forms
Renewal proposals must be submitted to LPAG on the appropriate Collaborative Partnership Renewal Form, as follows:
- CPRF 1 (template T5.4) - for renewal of arrangements with existing International or UK partners who do not belong to the Associate College Partnership.
- CPRF 2 (template T5.5) - for renewal of arrangements with current members of the Associate College Partnership.
- CPPF 3 (template T5.3) for the approval of new and the renewal of existing articulation or credit rating (only) 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. Proposals for the renewal of the partnership are also subject to the risk assessment requirements as new proposals, as set out in Preparing a partnership proposal - assessing the risk, and in guidance note G5.3a and G5.3b.
Stage 2 of the renewal process – revalidation of the academic delivery arrangements - is carried out in line with the processes described in the programme approval chapter of the Quality & Standards Handbook.