Route B: Programmes with remaining students and/or current applicants

When a proposal is made to close a programme on which students are currently studying, or for which applicants are holding offers of a place, a risk assessment should initially be undertaken by the Programme Lead or Subject Coordinator (or Liaison Manager, for collaborative arrangements) and the Faculty Head of Quality Assurance and Validations, in order to make recommendations about the process that should be followed in order to address the key issues as appropriate to the provision under consideration. The Head of the Department/School managing the provision should then submit the rationale for the closure, the initial risk assessment and the proposed closure process (including exit group membership) to the Faculty Executive group for approval. The Faculty Executive should then take a view on whether the PVC/Dean should submit a rationale for the closure to VCG, for approval of the decision to initiate the closure process. Once the appropriate level of executive support has been secured, the closure process may proceed. At this point, the ADSD or Head of Department should notify the appropriate colleagues in Registry and Admissions, in order to ensure the programme is closed to further applications.

Once the decision has been made by the Faculty Executive to close a programme with current students and/or applicants, an exit group should be convened to oversee the agreed closure process. The membership of a full exit group is given below; however, the size and membership of this group for a particular case will be determined by the initial assessment of the nature and severity of the risks and the likely issues that will need to be addressed (the minimum membership is indicated by asterisks – representation from Legal Services, Communications, and the Faculty Head of Finance & Planning should also be included for collaborative arrangements). 

If the provision is managed by a single Faculty, the exit group chair will be nominated by, and report to, the Faculty Executive group. If the exit group is to oversee the closure of a number of programmes managed by several Faculties, for example, in the case of the closure of a collaborative partnership delivering a range of provision, the chair will be appointed by VCG, to whom the exit group will be accountable until the final exit arrangements have been agreed and implemented (this may, in some cases, require only one meeting).

Membership of the exit group

The membership of the exit group must be approved by either the Faculty Executive group or VCG (depending on the group to which it reports), and may include some or all of the following, depending on the process agreed:

  • Chair, nominated by Faculty Executive (or by VCG, in the case of multi-Faculty provision)
  • Secretary, nominated by the Chair
  • *Associate Dean/s Education & Student Experience, and/or Faculty Head/s of QA & Validations
  • Associate Dean/s Strategy & Development
  • Head/s of Department/School affected
  • *Programme Lead/Subject Coordinator/Liaison Manager, as appropriate
  • Faculty Head/s of Finance & Planning
  • Faculty Head/s of Operations, or Academic Administration Manager/s
  • *Faculty link Quality Assurance Officer, or (for multi-Faculty exit groups) the Head of APQO
  • Legal Services representative
  • Human Resources Business Partner
  • Communications team representative
  • Academic Registrar, or nominee
  • *the Head of Admissions Operations (or their nominee) should be included if applicants are holding offers for places on the programme that is to be closed and the Academic Registrar is unable to attend the exit group.

Role of the exit group

The role of the exit group is to:

  • to draw up and monitor an action plan for the exit process, ensuring all key players understand their responsibilities and the timescales for action;
  • carry out a risk assessment on the action plan to ensure that all relevant legal, financial, HR and QA issues are taken into consideration in completing the programme closure form (template T2.16 – available on the APQO website). A suggested risk assessment tool is available (template T2.17) which exit group Chairs may find useful when reporting on progress to FEG/VCG (see final bullet point below);
  • ensure that appropriate consultation is carried out with students; and clear information is provided about the arrangements that are to be put in place for the remainder of their programme of study;
  • ensure that appropriate consultation is carried out with staff, including relevant union representatives; and that clear information is provided about the implications of the closure on their employment (referring to the HR guidance on handling redundancy and redeployment);
  • ensure that consultation with relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body/ies and other key stakeholders (e.g. partner organisations, funding bodies) is undertaken;
  • agree on the point at which applications to the provision should be suspended, and on the means and content of communications with applicants who are already in the system [if no further applications are to be accepted, the Student Records & Curriculum Management Team should be notified at this point in order to close recruitment to the programme – they will accept a draft closure form as the authority to do this];
  • agree on the means and timing of internal and external communications, and the processes to be used for approving message content;
  • draw up the proposed teach-out and quality assurance arrangements to be put in place to enable existing students to complete their programme of study, for approval by University QLIC, and subsequent monitoring by Faculty AESC/QLICs;
  • the Chair will report regularly on progress to the Faculty Executive Group or VCG, as appropriate.

Approval of closure forms and monitoring teach-out plans

The end point of the exit group’s work, once all the issues referred to above have been satisfactorily resolved, is the completion of the programme closure form (T2.16), which should be submitted together with the initial risk assessment and a report on phasing out costs, for approval by the Faculty Executive group, or VCG (if more than one Faculty is involved).

The approved closure form will then be submitted, via the Faculty link QAO, to Faculty AESC/QLIC for consideration of the teaching out and quality assurance arrangements to ensure they are sufficient to protect the interests of any remaining students. QLIC will approve the removal of the programme from the University’s portfolio on behalf of Academic Board. The Faculty AESC/QLIC will be responsible for monitoring the teaching out plans once approved by QLIC and the exit group is not required to continue beyond approval of the closure form by the Faculty Executive. However, in some, more complex cases – for example the closure of a partnership involving more than one Faculty - the original exit group may continue to meet from time to time, to review progress with/share experiences of teach-out arrangements and, if necessary, recommend further action to the relevant Faculty AESC/QLICs, Faculty Executive Groups or VCG.

Once approved, the APQO will report the outcomes of the closure process to relevant teams, to ensure that prospectus and UCAS entries are amended, and the records system and other definitive programme information is updated. Once all remaining students have completed the programme, the Student Records & Curriculum Management Team will designate it as ‘archived’ on the system.