Developing a new programme with a partner (or partners) external to the University (academic or industrial) can be extremely rewarding (and potentially lucrative for the University), but is also more complex and time consuming to develop, approve and manage, bringing higher risk to the University along with the potential for higher reward. The Code of Practice for Collaborative Partnerships delivers full support and guidance for proposal and programme teams engaged or seeking to develop collaborative programmes, but a summary is included below for reference.
Developing a new programme with a Partner follows essentially the same approach as developing any other new programme (taught or research), but has an additional stage focusing on the review and approval of the partner(s) in addition to the scrutiny and approval of the academic programme. In addition to the aspects of approving a new programme outlined in Designing, Developing and Approving a New Programme of Study, proposals with collaborative partners must also complete the following additional processes:
Declaration of Interest
In the first instance, a declaration of interest can be established which is non-binding and seeks merely to explore opportunities. In some cases, this section is bypassed to establish a Memorandum of Understanding, depending on local conditions and expectations.
Due Diligence on Partner(s)
To ensure the status and security of the partnership and proposal, the Academic Partnerships Department, with support from the University’s Finance and Legal teams in conducting thorough due diligence on the financial, legal, academic and ethical status of the proposed partner(s). Full information on what is explored within Due Diligence can be found in the Code of Practice for Collaborative Partnerships.
Site Visit Report
For any new collaborative programmes (and for any expansions into new subject areas with existing partners) a completed site visit report is required. This report provides evidence to the University that the resources, equipment, facilities, support arrangements and teaching quality are in place and can deliver a student experience at least equivalent to that students would receive at Swansea University.
For information on who can conduct site visit reports see the Code of Practice for Collaborative Partnerships.
Based on the information and due diligence provided, Academic Quality Services will carry out a detailed risk assessment, referring to the University’s risk management strategy and team for support.
Memorandum of Understanding
A memorandum of Understanding can be signed before due diligence has taken place, but would normally be signed after initial due diligence has taken place to ensure that the University has verified the status of the proposed partner. In some cases where the partner’s reputation is high and the risk is low, this element can be accelerated. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is not legally binding, therefore careful wording is crucial. The Academic Partnerships Department will support the drafting of this document, with the University’s Legal Team.
Agreement of Financial, Legal and Regulatory Issues
Academic Partnerships will liaise between the College/School, Professional Services and partner(s) to ensure any and all financial, legal, regulatory and any other student experience issues are confirmed and in place.
Approval of Partner by Collaborative Partnership Board
Following completion of Due Diligence, the Partner will need to be approved by the University’s Collaborative Partnership Board to ensure it meets the standards required to deliver programmes with or on behalf of Swansea University.
Once all the steps have been completed, the approval process is conducted as normal by the Programme Approval Committee.
*Wherever possible, the approval required from both the Programme Approval Committee and Collaborative Partnerships Board will be integrated through a join committee approach to streamline the process.
Memorandum of Agreement (MoA)
The final stage is to finalise and agree the contract of operation in the Memorandum of Agreement, which will be prepared by the Academic Partnerships Department in consultation with the University’s legal team.
Collaborative programmes are subject to the same Quality Review (including Annual Programme Review) process as any other programmes.
Please see the Code of Practice for Collaborative Partnerships for further information and guidance, and contact the Academic Partnerships Directorate at the earliest opportunity for additional expert support on developing collaborative programmes.