Stage 3: Post-Approval (Set up, Operational Management and Monitoring)

On This Page
Set up
Operational Management
Collaborative Provision Register
Operational Manual
Joint Programme Boards
Monitoring and Review
Monitoring of Collaborative Partnership Provision
Annual and Periodic Monitoring
Cause for Concern Procedure
Partner Performance Evaluation (PPE)
PPE Review Panel
PPE Report
Renewal of an Agreement
Conclusion of an Agreement
Assessment of Outcomes
Business Case Review
Partner Performance Evaluation
Recommendation Outcomes

Following full approval of the collaborative activity, and receipt of a signed Memorandum of Agreement, the agreed programme will become live on AU systems.

  1. Set up
  2. Operational Management
  3. Monitoring

1. Set-Up

  • Courses set up on ASTRA (first step-up)
  • Courses set up on UCAS
  • Courses set up on Student Finance Systems, including Student Loans, where appropriate
  • Admissions notified and offer Packs prepared
  • Marketing and Recruitment Plans and materials confirmed and actioned
  • Schemes and Modules built on ASTRA
  • Teaching Materials written
  • Operational Handbooks
  • Student Handbooks Produced, tailored according to project
  • Amendments to Rules and Regulations effected
  • Training Day Organised
  • Blackboard sites set up, staff provided with Login details
  • Student Engagement Systems: Your Voice Matters and MEQs
  • Registration systems set up
  • Review application of AU policies

Depending on the nature of the project therefore various actions may need to be taken in preparation for the enrolment of students. For larger projects, it is advised that the project board is convened early during this stage to plan for these operational developments:


2. Operational Management

Collaborative Provision Register

Once a collaborative proposal has completed the approval process, the collaboration will be recorded on the University’s Collaborative Provision Register. This register is maintained by the Academic Partnerships Office with input from other Departments such as the Global Opportunities (GO) and International Recruitment & Development (IRD) offices regarding low-risk Partnerships including Exchange agreements. Any changes to the register should be reported to the Collaboration Office via  

Prior to entry on the Collaborative Provision Register, the original signed copy of the Collaborative Partnership Agreement must be filed with the Academic Partnerships Office.

Operational Manual

To ensure the smooth running of each high-risk collaborative partnership project, an Operational Manual will be produced for each high-risk partnership project to set out how the partnership will be managed on a day-to-day basis and confirm the responsibilities of each partner as detailed in the MOA. This document will detail both operational and quality assurance procedures as they apply to the partnership, and will be reviewed annually by the Academic Partnerships Office.  The Operational Manual must be completed prior to students being enrolled on the course and agreed with the Partnership Programme Leader.

Joint Programme Boards

For each high-risk collaborative partnership project, a Joint Programme Board (JPB) shall be convened twice annually, ordinarily once per semester. Chaired by the Aberystwyth University designated Partnership Programme Leader, the JPB serves as an operational management committee for key individuals representing both partners to review the operational and quality assurance arrangements and develop practice as appropriate. The JPB should review and scrutinise the arrangements and can make recommendations to the Collaborative Provision Board however it does not have the authority to make academic or contractual changes to the Partnership.

The board’s remit is as follows:

  • To manage the operation and quality of the programme;
  • To manage and review any marketing materials associated with the franchise;
  • To oversee applications, admissions and recruitment procedures;
  • To oversee the quality enhancement of the programme;
  • To consider an annual review of the programme and periodic institutional reviews of the programme;
  • To make recommendations for minor amendments, as educationally appropriate, to the programme of study, that must be approved in line with other University procedures;
  • To oversee the student experience by sharing best practice and considering issues raised by student feedback and by the Student-Staff Consultative Committee and to agree appropriate actions;
  • To consider and respond to comments made by External Examiners and agree recommendations for appropriate action;
  • To consider education and quality issues raised by module teams;
  • To assure and oversee the immediate quality of the course in terms of teaching and learning, student experience and outcomes, linking to existing standards for teaching quality in both institutions.

The Joint Programme Board will likely consist of the following committee members from Aberystwyth University, along with their equivalent role holders at the partner Institution, although may vary depending on the nature of the programme:

  • Academic Partnerships Programme Leader (Chair)
  • Link Tutor(s)
  • Deputy Registrar for Academic Partnerships
  • Academic Partnerships Manager
  • Faculty Registrar (or nominee)
  • Deputy Registrar for Admissions
  • Deputy Registrar for Student Records
  • Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit Manager
  • Student Union Representative
  • Student Support Representative

The board will be considered quorate when four members of the board are present. Departmental/Faculty and Academic Partnerships Office staff must attend meeting. All other representatives are optional and should attend as required depending on the agenda.


3. Monitoring and Review

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Monitoring of Collaborative Partnership Provision

In accordance with the requirements the UK Quality Code for Higher Education: Partnerships, collaborative partnerships must be regularly monitored throughout their lifecycle to ensure they continue to achieve their original objectives. As such, appropriate and proportionate due diligence will be periodically conducted, enabling the University to assure itself of the ongoing governance, ethos, status, capacity, reputation, general suitability of a partner and any changes to the level of risk involved in the collaboration. To achieve this, the University has established various mechanisms to monitor and review collaborative activity which complement the quality enhancement procedures of the University.

Annual and Periodic Monitoring

To ensure their continued success, all collaborative projects are reviewed annually as part of the University’s standard Annual Review procedures.

In accordance with the revised Quality Code, which places greater emphasis on the written agreements to be differentiated according to the risk level of the partnership, AU has developed a ‘traffic-light’ risk-reporting system for use in formal reviews and reports, not just focusing on risk at the outset of a project through Due Diligence and Risk Assessment.

Risk-report system key table

As at earlier stages, both the Financial and Quality Assurance aspects of the collaboration are reviewed separately. The following mechanisms will each review the various aspects of collaborative activity to ensure that regular due diligence is maintained.    

  • Link Tutor bi-annual Reports: The Link Tutor/Partnership Programme Leader will publish a report in each semester, usually following a visit to the Partner. These reports are considered at Joint Programme Boards and at the next appropriate CPB meeting.
  • Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (ATMS): As detailed in Academic Quality Handbook Section 2. Development and Review - 2.7 Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (AMTS), the aim of the Annual Monitoring is to ensure a system for assuring that schemes are meeting their aims, to identify areas of good practice, and to disseminate this information among key stakeholders in order to further enhance their provision. Specific sections of the AMTS relate to collaborative partnership provision, which is considered at Departmental and Faculty level prior to being considered by Faculty Academic Affairs Committees (FAAC) and Academic Board (AB). Details of any targets, action points, along with a copy of section 3 of the AMTS1 and AMTS1 Appendix 1: Monitoring of Collaborative Provision / AMTS1 Appendix 3 Franchise Provision as necessary, should also be forwarded to for the Academic Partnerships Office’ records.
  • Annual Financial Review: The project business case shall be updated by the Finance Department annually and submitted for approval to either the Finance Director or University Executive, as appropriate for the project. Approval should be sought for the updated business case following the end of the financial year.
  • External Examiner Reports: External Examiners will have oversight of collaborative programmes as part of their remit and may comment on the provision as part of their reports. Feedback provided should be commented upon and reviewed at the next Joint Programme Board.
  • Departmental Annual Report: Following completion of AMTS and the Financial Review, the Partnership Programme Leader should submit their annual report to CPB for consideration. The report should draw on the above reports and detail any agreed targets and/or action points.
  • Academic Partnerships / Global Opportunities Annual Report: These are reported to the Collaborative Provision Board. A summary report is presented to each meeting and an end of year Partnerships Report, using the ‘traffic-light’ risk-reporting system (illustrated above), is circulated and approved by CBP then submitted to Senate. Following this, an Annual QA Statement for Council - Section G: Quality Assurance of Academic Partnership Provision is also produced.
  • Departmental Periodic Review, including periodic revalidation of provision: Programmes taught under a collaborative model will be reviewed as part of the department/Faculty’s Periodic Review as detailed in Academic Quality Handbook 2. Development and Review section 2.8 Departmental Periodic Review. The Review Team, reporting to Academic Board will, on behalf of the University, audit departments on a 5-6 year rolling basis
  • Faculty and Department level Auditing: Consideration of Collaborative Partnership Activities may feed into the Departmental Quality Audit as detailed in Academic Quality Handbook 2. Development and Review section 2.10 Departmental Quality Audit Questionnaire.


Cause for Concern Procedure

The Cause for Concern procedure has been designed to support the University to manage potential risks to quality and academic standards. This procedure exists as a mechanism to raise serious concerns relating to Academic Quality or Standards in relation to a Collaboration and may be triggered by any member of staff directly or indirectly involved the collaborative Partnership. Students wishing to raise a complaint about a Partnership must do so via the Complaints Procedure which applies to their course of study. Whilst a student cannot directly access this procedure, the member of staff investigating their Complaint, Academic Appeal or Final Review may raise a Cause for Concern as a result of their investigations into the complaint where they consider that to be an appropriate action. Indicative measures may include evidence from module evaluation statements, annual monitoring reports, student and staff complaints. 

Concerns raised under this procedure may include (as appropriate to the collaboration), but are not limited to:

  • Inadequate standards of teaching, including failure to address learning outcomes
  • Inadequate facilities
  • Inadequate support to students
  • Provision of information misleading to students
  • QAA or CMA breaches
  • Failure to adhere to AU regulations relating to assessments and examinations
  • Repeated failure to address concerns raised at Joint Programme Boards
  • A highly critical external examiners report
  • Evidence of poor student recruitment and/or poor student retention
  • Inadequate student experience
  • Evidence of financial impropriety
  • Evidence of deteriorating student performance and poor overall standards
  • Highly critical student feedback
  • Breaches of the Memorandum of Agreement
  • Data Protection and/or confidentiality breaches

This procedure cannot be raised in relation to:

  • Isolated incidents, especially those minor in nature
  • Complaints about academic judgment where there is no evidence of procedural irregularity
  • Matters which should be addressed under alternative complaint or redress procedures
  • Grievances against individual staff members: any concern raised must be directed towards the partnership as a whole
  • Matters previously dealt with
  • Matters which should at first instance be addressed at the Joint Programme Board
  • Vexatious or non-meritorious complaints

Where a member of staff wishes to raise a Cause for Concern under this procedure, they must do so in writing to the Deputy Registrar for Academic Partnerships via Staff should be reassured that any concern raised under this procedure shall be dealt with confidentially and without prejudice. The Deputy Registrar for Academic Partnerships will investigate the Concern along with the Academic Registrar and where evidence of an arguable case exists, determine an appropriate course of action to be conducted. This may include:

  • Additional Joint Programme Boards
  • Visiting the Partner Institution
  • Partner Performance Evaluation

The outcome of any investigation will be communicated to the Pro-Vice Chancellor along with the agreed course of action. Irrespective of the outcome, a summary of the concern and any investigation should be presented to CPB for information although any confidential or commercially sensitive information may be redacted as appropriate.

The Deputy Registrar for Academic Partnerships will present to CPB an annual summary of any Causes for Concern raised under this procedure along with the outcome of any investigations.

Partner Performance Evaluation (PPE)

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For the University to assure itself of the ongoing governance, ethos, status, capacity, reputation and general suitability of a partner, periodic risk assessments and due diligence checks must occur. This will ensure the University has an up to date picture of each partner’s ongoing suitability to offer a student experience commensurate with that provided at AU.

To address this QAA responsibility and as part of ongoing due diligence, a periodic Partner Performance Evaluation (PPE) will be conducted at regular intervals as determined by the University for each collaborative Partnership. The timing of the PPE may be varied as deemed necessary by the University but is usually initiated:

  • after a five year interval (for longer term partnership projects)
  • in the 12-18 months preceding the end of or a potential renewal of a Partnership Agreement
  • as an appropriate course of action following a Cause for Concern being considered

The PPE will be coordinated by the Academic Partnerships Office and will follow the procedures of the University’s other reviews in composition of a PPE Review Panel. In some instances, a PPE with Site Visit will be necessary. The visit should provide an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the framework within which the partner operates. The visit team will be drawn from the PPE Review Panel, along with an external assessor (if appropriate).

PPE Review Panel

  1. Membership: The membership of the PPE Review Panel will be as follows: (i) The Chair, to be drawn from outside the Partnership academic department, and usually an Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching). The Chair should have suitable independence and critical distance from the partnership scheme(s), and will be selected by Academic Registry; (ii) A minimum of one member of academic staff, with suitable independence and critical distance from the partnership scheme(s); (iii) A student representative, to be drawn from a pool nominated by the Student’ Union, normally a Student Reviewer; (iv) A member of staff from the Academic Registry Academic Partnerships Team, who will also draft the panel report. NB Academic Registry will be mindful of Welsh-medium representation on panels. Relevant academic departments will be invited to nominate a representative for each partnership scheme at the panel meeting. In the case of cross-academic department schemes, a representative from each academic department involved will be nominated by their respective department.
  2. External Assessors: External Assessors are not required to attend meetings but must submit a written report. The panel may ask for further comments where appropriate or the External Assessor may be invited to attend via Skype if issues are identified in their written report that require further detailed discussion.
  3. Actions arising: The Secretary to the Panel (usually a member of the Academic Registry Academic Partnerships Team) is responsible for taking minutes, identifying decisions and any recommendations. These minutes will go to the academic department leading the Partnership and will also be submitted to CPB as a record of the recommendations.

Full partnership management and monitoring information will be scrutinised in the first instance by the PPE Review Panel. Where necessary, the academic department/Faculty will undertake further investigation of any issues which are of concern, drawing on support from Academic Partnerships Office and other staff where necessary.

PPE Report

Following this scrutiny, the PPE Review Panel will provide a report for discussion and agreement by CPB. The report template follows this guidance and covers:

  • Overall assessment of the health of the partner from the University’s perspective; including student demand, application numbers and admission standards, physical resources
  • Overall development of the programme; including developments in learning resources and strategies, student progression and employability, staffing and quality of teaching
  • Areas of exemplary practice which can be shared with colleagues in the University and across the collaborative network
  • Areas of concern requiring action from the partner
  • Opportunities for further development (e.g. potential new programmes)
  • Any issues requiring action by the University
  • Action Plan

The report, including the action plan, must be considered by the Collaborative Provision Board, Academic Board (if appropriate) and, as appropriate, the Partners Vice-Principal (or equivalent).

Monitoring of the action plan will be carried out by the CPB, with Senate being informed of progress in relation to Partnership activities. Should the partner not address the concerns to the Universities satisfaction, the University reserves the right to invoke the stipulations of the MOA related to actions in the event of serious quality concerns.

The report of the PPE will be reviewed by CPB members who will consider the overall success of the collaboration and provide recommendations to the University Executive and Senate regarding its future development including whether it should be renewed, expanded upon, redesigned as a new proposal with the existing partner, allowed to expire as per the MOA term, or to initiate early termination in line with contractual processes.

Renewal of an Agreement

Renewal of an existing Partnership agreement will follow the same process as that for any new Partnership process, with the PPE review being taken into account along with usual updates to due diligence and risk assessments. The MOA can be reviewed and updated as required by both/either party or can be replaced as necessary.

Conclusion of an Agreement

The conclusion of a low-medium risk Partnership is through termination of the MOA (according to the process outlined in the contract) by either partner, or by expiry of the MOA.

The conclusion of a high-risk category Partnership is through termination of the MOA (according to the process outlined in the contract) by either partner, or by expiry of the MOA.

If termination has not been initiated beforehand, the conclusion of a high-risk category Partnership starts in the preceding 12-18 months of expiry of the MOA/contract. The first stage is a two-pronged approach:

  • Initiation of the Partner Performance Evaluation (PPE) looking at the academic programme in terms of Quality Assurance and risk assessment
  • Initiation of a Business Case Review (BCR), looking at the financial health of the Partnership.

The Academic Partnerships Office initiates both reviews, but is only responsible for implementation and management of the academic PPE.

Assessment of Outcomes

The quantitative and qualitative information used to enable the University to assess the ongoing suitability of a partner will include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Institutional strategy
  • Financial status of the partner
  • An appraisal of the financial health of the partnership from the University’s perspective
  • Information drawn from the Collaborative Partnership Provision risk register (with updates to the risk register where necessary)
  • Recent changes in partner management structure, physical resources (e.g. new campus)
  • Compliance/engagement with the terms of the Memorandum of agreement
  • Outcome of reviews by external bodies (e.g. QAA, UKVI, PSRB’s), as appropriate, which may give an indication of the general health of the partner
  • Number and outcomes of appeals and complaints notified to the University from partner institution students
  • Student survey outcomes
  • Issues raised by external examiners relating to management/resourcing
  • Issues identified via Joint Programme Management Boards
  • Issues raised via AMTS or via Faculty Committees

Business Case Review

The Business Case Review looks at overall Partnership costs with input from the Finance and Planning offices, and Faculty management as appropriate.

The Business Case Review is then submitted to the University Executive with recommendations as to whether the Partnership has a sound financial base. The PPE report can be provided to the Executive as part of the overall project report alongside the Business Case Review. The University Executive then approves the recommendations for action.

Partner Performance Evaluation

Upon completion of the PPE, the report, and the final recommendation of is then submitted to the Collaborative Provision Board with recommendations as to whether the Partnership is academically sound and of any identified QA or risk issues raised. Collaborative Provision Board members then review the report and make their observations and recommendations. CPB then approves the recommendations for review and/or approval by both the University Executive and Senate (as appropriate).

Recommendation Outcomes

The University Executive will review both the PPE report (representative of the academic and quality assurance outcomes and recommendations) AND the Financial/Business Case report (representative of the overall financial health of the Partnership arrangement).

As appropriate to the decision making on academic grounds for any new or extended Partnership arrangement, Senate would be informed (if no decision is necessary on academic grounds) or the application for a new or extended Partnership agreement would be sent to Senate for approval. Senate would then approve the recommendations for action.

For amendment, extension or new high-risk capital projects, the approval summary and associated academic action plan, as appropriate, would then be submitted to Council for final approval.