Quality Manual

Managing Higher Education Provision with Others

1. Introduction

The University of Nottingham’s policy and procedure for the approval of collaborative provision arrangements have been drafted to be aligned with Chapter B10 Managing higher education provision with others in the Quality Assurance Agency’s Quality Code for Higher Education.

2. Basic Principles

It is assumed that all campuses are covered by an agreement unless otherwise stated.

For all partnership arrangements (as opposed to placement learning opportunities), a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) must be signed on behalf of the University by a member of University Executive Board on behalf of Teaching and Learning Board.

All teaching and assessment of students registered for a University of Nottingham qualification must be in English. The only exception is where the subject of study is a language or literature other than English.

3. Approval of Partnership Arrangements

The University has a three stage approach to approval and review of teaching partnerships and Memoranda of Agreement as follows:

Stage 1 – approval of partner

Stage 2 – approval of the basis for the partnership, formulation of Memorandum of Agreement

Stage 3 – University level approval by Quality and Standards Committee (QSC)

For full details of the approval process please refer to section 6 of the Partnership Handbook, available from the Teaching Partnership Workspace.

Stage 1 – Approval of Partner

Approval of all partners and partnerships is subject to support being received from the relevant Head of School(s) and, in the case of partnerships involving UNMC/UNNC, the relevant Vice-Provost(s) for Teaching and Learning. If certain criteria are met, approval of the partner will be automatic.  In all other cases, approval of the partner must be given by the relevant APVC in consultation with the relevant Regional Group of International Strategy Board. This approval will be granted on the basis of consideration of a Partnership Concept Paper (PCP) prepared by the Office of Global Engagement or Quality and Standards Administration. 

Stage 2 – Approval of the Basis for the Partnership, formulation of Memorandum of Agreement 

The depth of scrutiny involved in approval of the basis for the partnership will vary depending on the type of partnership and whether or not it was necessary for a PCP to be considered.

Templates exist for standard regulatory, quality assurance, administrative, financial and legal arrangements for each of the types of partnerships (see the Teaching Partnerships Workspace - login required). Schools will liaise with representatives from professional services, including Student Services Development, the Office of Global Engagement (for international partnerships) and Quality and Standards Administration (for home partnerships) over the application of these templates, and any variation of content.  A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) should then be drafted, again using pre-existing templates.

For partnerships involving only an international campus, the role of professional services departments at UNUK will be undertaken by equivalent units on that campus under the supervision of the relevant Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning.

Stage 3 


Student Services Development (Academic Processes) will then provide a commentary containing background information about the proposed arrangement, which may also include supporting documentation.  The MoA is then subject to consideration by a member of QSC, who if satisfied will recommend to the PVC Internationalisation or other authorised member of Executive Board or (in regard to relevant postgraduate agreements) Research and Graduate Services that the MoA be signed.  If substantial quality and standards issues exist, the member of QSC may choose to refer the matter to the whole committee.  Once a recommendation to approve the MoA has been made by QSC, the Office for Global Engagement will arrange for the signing of international MoAs and another relevant professional service (eg either Research and Graduate Services or Business Engagement and Innovation Services) will undertake this role in the case of UK MoAs.

4. Reviews of Partnerships

Partnership programmes are subject to annual monitoring and Educational Enhancement Assurance Review in the same manner as the University’s other programmes.  In addition, the partnership is subject to review whenever an MoA requires renewal (the maximum period for an MoA is five years).  For MoAs lasting less than three years, a renewal review is not needed if the initial approval or a review has occurred within the last three years. Further information about renewal reviews for MoAs is available here.

5. Types of Collaboration


Progression arrangements enable students who have successfully completed study at one organisation to be considered for entry (individually) onto the beginning of a Nottingham programme. The two separate components are the responsibility of the respective organisations delivering them. Students normally have a contractual relationship with the organisation which delivers the first component and subsequently with Nottingham.


Articulation agreements enable all students who satisfy academic criteria on one programme to be admitted with advanced standing to a subsequent stage of a programme at Nottingham (these are usually 2+2 arrangements but can be in other forms). These arrangements are subject to formal agreements between the parties and normally involve credit accumulation and transfer, so that credit achieved for the approved study at the first provider is transferred to contribute to the programme and award completed at Nottingham. The two separate components are the responsibility of the respective organisations delivering them but, together, contribute to a single award (Nottingham award). Students normally have a contractual relationship with the organisation which delivers the first component and subsequently with the degree-awarding body.

Off-campus delivery:

In an Off-Campus Delivery model, teaching is provided entirely by University of Nottingham staff, but delivery occurs away from any of the University's campuses and the provision of facilities (e.g. teaching accommodation, library and IT resources etc., administrative support) is undertaken partly or wholly by the partner institution.

Joint Delivery (Taught):

Joint Delivery is an arrangement under which two or more awarding bodies together provide a programme leading to a separate award (and separate certification) from each awarding body or a single award made jointly by both, or all, participants. In the latter case, a single certificate or document (signed by the competent authorities) attests to the successful completion of this jointly delivered programme, replacing separate institutional or national qualifications. Separate certification is generally preferred, as that provides greater flexibility should a student not meet the requirements of all partners, and also avoids the costs involved in designing and producing a joint certificate.

Joint Supervision (Research):

Supervision of multiple numbers of postgraduate research students registered with The University of Nottingham and studying for a Nottingham qualification is delivered jointly by University of Nottingham staff and by staff of the partner institution (this may include some element of off-campus delivery). Students may or may not be registered with, and/or receive a qualification from, the partner institution as well as from The University of Nottingham. Such arrangements are subject to the Quality Manual provisions. 

The additional information available here outlines the quality assurance issues and financial considerations to be borne in mind when considering whether to establish a partnership arrangement.

6. Placement Learning

The University of Nottingham’s policy for placement learning is intended to be sufficiently broad to cover all types of work-based or study-based arrangements at the University and outlines the minimum requirements which schools/professional services are expected to meet in arrangements for exchange/placement learning.

It is not intended to cover learning outside the University which is not a planned part of a programme of study, such as voluntary placements, part-time, term-time and vacation work which students have arranged for themselves. Students can access support for these activities via the Careers and Employability Service website.

6.1     Types of Placement

Within the University of Nottingham there are several different types of placement learning for students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses.

These are:

Academic placements
: study abroad as part of the programme of study. Schemes available include the Socrates-Erasmus and the Universitas 21 exchange programmes, both co-ordinated by the International Office, and the International Exchange Programme which is co-ordinated by the relevant Academic School.

Work/Industrial placements: to gain work/industrial experience relevant to the course or aligned to an area of career interest.

Practice placements: to develop the practical skills and competencies that will be required for practice in a profession or other employment.

Language Assistantships: working at a school abroad to improve knowledge of a foreign culture and language.  

The method of assessment/credit rating of the placement varies between courses and should be outlined in the School guidelines. On some placements students are assessed and gain credits which count to their final award, whilst on other placements there are no credits awarded but completion of the placement is required in order to meet progression requirements.

6.2     Preparation for placement learning  

6.2.1   Approval of Placement Providers

Resources are available in Workspace  (requires login) and on the University of Nottingham Safety Office Website - Placements page to assist staff in setting up and obtaining approval for exchange programmes and placements. This guidance covers the considerations to be taken into account when establishing a new exchange/placement, including the need to undertake a risk assessment for the potential exchange/placement at the outset and ensure the school can provide appropriate support and information for the assistance of students planning to undertake an exchange/placement.

Schools should ensure that appropriate internal mechanisms are in place to monitor and evaluate placement providers and partner institutions and the learning opportunities offered. These due diligence procedures will be proportionate to the complexity and volume of the exchange/placement provision being offered.

6.2.2. General Principles

Schools should include information about exchange/placement learning in their programme specifications for relevant courses. This should include intended learning outcomes, which should be related to the course learning outcomes, monitoring and review procedures and methods of assessment. The School should consider whether any assessment of exchange/placement learning is covered by their arrangements for internal moderation and external examining and whether the standards which are applied to any assessment of exchange/placement learning are consistent with available subject benchmarks and other relevant reference points and, where appropriate, fulfil professional or regulatory body requirements. Agreements with placement providers/partner institutions should also include information on requirements (academic or otherwise) for passing the placement, and consequences of failure.

Where the exchange/placement learning is replacing learning that would otherwise take place within the University, Schools should ensure that by the end of their studies the students will have achieved the learning outcomes set out in the relevant programme specification. It is therefore necessary for Schools to assure themselves that the choice of subjects taken during the exchange/placement enables the integrity of the programme to be maintained as well as ensuring that the level and volume of study and the assessment of it warrants the award of the same number of credits as are being missed at the University. Where the partner institution/placement provider does not offer learning that delivers required learning outcomes that are not met by other parts of the student's programme, the School may require the student to undertake additional work during their exchange/placement or to take particular modules on their return to the University to achieve those learning outcomes. Any constraints on the allowed learning during a period of exchange/placement should be clearly stated in the relevant programme specification.

6.2.2   Responsibility of Schools: Information for Students

Schools should inform eligible students at an appropriate stage of exchange/placement opportunities offered by the School.

Schools should ensure that students are adequately informed about the procedures for securing, approving and allocating exchange/placements and if applicable define their procedures and criteria for approval of individual opportunities.

Schools should ensure that procedures are in place to inform students where requests to undertake exchange/placements have not been approved. Where consultation with professional services departments is required, all involved should be kept fully informed and notified of any outcome.

Schools should ensure that they have sufficient up-to-date information about each of their partner institutions and placement providers for dissemination to interested students.

Where relevant, students should be informed in detail about the programme of language study which is required, and about language study facilities at the University.

Schools should ensure that students are adequately informed about the academic requirements of the exchange/placement learning period and, if applicable, how the marks obtained will be processed and incorporated into their degree classification.

Students should be aware of the procedures for claiming extenuating circumstances.

Students should be informed about the consequences of failure to secure or fully attend and complete an exchange/placement.

Learning Agreements/Practice Action Plans/Student Work Training Approval Forms must be concluded with the student prior to departure.

Schools should ensure that students are adequately informed about any induction and registration procedures at the placement provider/partner institution.

Schools should ensure that the student is aware of relevant health and safety, insurance, personal safety and cultural information.

Students should be provided with full contact details for the members of staff who will be responsible for them during their exchange/placement learning period both in the School and at the placement provider/partner institution.

Students should be provided with information about the University’s support services that will remain available to them during the exchange/placement and about the procedures in place should an emergency arise.

Schools should ensure that students are aware of the University’s complaints procedures and that these should be used if students wish to make a complaint regarding their exchange/placement.

6.2.3   Responsibilities of Schools: Information to Staff

Schools should ensure that staff responsible for exchange/placement learning activities are adequately trained to meet the needs of their role.

Placement providers and partner institutions should be informed of the mechanism for making complaints.

Schools must ensure that the placement provider or partner institution has been provided with information about the student by the deadline required by the placement provider or partner institution.

Schools should ensure that Student Services Development (Academic Processes) or equivalent and the Office for Gloabl Engagement have been informed of the students who will be undertaking a study abroad exchange period or placement and that these offices are notified immediately of any subsequent changes.

6.2.4   Rights and Responsibilities of Students 

Schools should ensure that students are aware of their responsibilities:

To maintain contact with their home school and tutor, or study abroad contact as appropriate in accordance with any agreed arrangements prior to commencement of the exchange/placement;

as representatives of the University;

towards the placement provider or partner institution and its customers, clients, patients, service users, employees and the general public. This would include complying with the laws of the host country to which they will be subject during their stay, maintaining appropriate dress/uniform code and maintaining punctuality, reliability and professional conduct;

for managing their learning and professional relationships;

for recording their progress and achievements;

and for alerting the placement provider or partner institution and their home School to problems with the exchange/placement that might prevent the progress or satisfactory completion of the exchange/placement.

Schools should ensure that students are aware of their rights:

to a safe exchange/placement environment

to the existence of any support services available to them during their stay in the host country; and

to be treated in accordance with applicable legislation.

6.2.5   Students who have a Disability   

Schools have a responsibility to ensure that the needs of students who have a disability who are participating in exchanges/placements are considered prior to departure and that appropriate support is available before, during and after their placements. 

6.2.6   Responsibilities of Placement Providers/Partner Institutions 

Schools should be able to assure themselves that placement providers and partner institutions know what their responsibilities are during the period of exchange/placement learning including their roles in providing appropriate learning opportunities, the assessment of students and the health and safety of students. Placement providers and partner institutions should also be informed of the mechanism for making complaints.

6.3     During placement learning

Schools should require students to keep in regular contact with the School during their placement period in order to review their progress. This could be facilitated by e-mail communication. In addition it is recommended that academics or other agreed members of staff within the School or Professional Services Department aim to visit students during the placement period.

Students should be given information about their subsequent period of study back at Nottingham, particularly any regulation changes. 

6.4     Post-exchange/placement learning

Schools should monitor and periodically review their exchange/placement policies and procedures in order to evaluate their effectiveness in providing intended learning outcomes and meeting appropriate levels of quality and standards.

Students should be encouraged to write a brief evaluation of their experiences at the partner institution/placement provider and country (if applicable) in order to provide user-friendly advice for future students.

Schools should seek formal or informal feedback from the partner institution/placement provider.

Schools should consider holding information events for future students, using the returning students, and should consider asking returners to help integrate incoming students from partner institutions.

Schools should remind students to complete reports/receipts/contracts relating to the student grant if applicable.

7. Marks and credit transfer for students on Study Abroad Placements at Educational Institutions

Where students participate in periods of study abroad at another educational institution which result in the award of marks and credit by the partner institution, the University undertakes to provide arrangements for the consistent transfer of credit and marks to Nottingham for the purpose of calculating final degrees. This will ensure that students on international exchanges are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged in relation to peers remaining in Nottingham.

This policy does not apply to work/industrial placements. For guidance on these placements please see the Quality Manual Code of Practice for Placement Learning Programmes. (Section 6)

7.1     Setting up agreements

The ownership of an exchange scheme rests at School level.  School Teaching Committees (or equivalent) should play a role in the development of links and the approval of the workload of individual students. 

When developing exchange agreements Schools should follow the guidelines issued by the International Office. 

The guidelines include a Quality Assurance Checklist to aid the School in setting up exchange agreements.  It is recommended that the Checklist should be submitted to the Office for Global Engagement.

7.2     Credit equivalence

All Schools must define and document what, in their belief, is the amount of work to be undertaken at the Exchange institution which corresponds most closely to the number of credits required for that period of academic study at Nottingham. This should be done by obtaining information on the credit systems in place at partner institutions and, with advice from the International Office, defining a range which equates with a range of Nottingham credits. 


7.3     Mark translation

Schools must have a documented procedure for translating a mark awarded by a partner institution into a mark to be used for the purposes of calculating a student's final degree classification. This procedure may be based on one or more combinations of the methods described below: 

• Schools may agree standards of achievement in the form of assessed learning outcomes and relate these to marks on their Nottingham scale. These standards/ learning outcomes must be agreed with the partner institution and levels of achievement indicated by the partner for each student.

• As the Universities in question (particularly U21) have a similar quality of students to those at Nottingham, Schools may therefore base marks on information acquired on the percentage distribution of students among ranges at the partner institution and map those on to ranges for Nottingham students – e.g. the marks for the top 10% at Nottingham may be in the range of 71%-73% while at a partner institution it may be 74%-78%. 

• Schools may request that all or a portion of a student's work is returned to Nottingham to be double marked and/or shown to the External Examiner. 

7.4     Student learning agreements

Schools must ensure that each individual student undertaking an exchange has a Learning Agreement (see learning agreements at:

http://workspace.nottingham.ac.uk/display/IOResources/Home (login required).

Students attending the same exchange institution should undertake a broadly equivalent workload to other Nottingham exchange students in the same subject area.

Students who are spending one semester at an exchange institution should normally take a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 70 credits worth of courses/modules at that institution.

Students should be informed prior to departure of the way in which credit and marks are to be transferred.

The student’s Learning Agreement should state the manner in which reassessment will be undertaken if a fail mark is received during a placement. The options are:

(a) The reassessment is set and marked by the institution at which the student is undertaking the placement (prior agreement will need to have been sought from the placement institution).

(b) The reassessment is set and marked by the student’s School.

(c) The student is required to enrol on a substitute module at the University of Nottingham in order to accrue the credits not gained during the placement. This may entail the student enrolling on extra credits during the next stage of the course in order to complete the previous stage. Alternatively, it may mean the student is unable to progress to the next stage until the requisite number of credits have been gained by taking the substitute module(s) as a part-time student.

7.5     Recording of credits and marks

The School should inform Student Services Development (Academic Processes) (marks-processing@nottingham.ac.uk ) of the amount of credit to be taken by each individual student for the purposes of module registration and marks processing. This should be done by completing the Credit Transfer Form. ‘Credit Transfer' modules will be created in Saturn and assigned the appropriate amount of credit. The credit values of the modules should equate to Nottingham credit values (minimum of 10, and then multiples of 5).

Schools must arrive at a single mark for each unit of work (module equivalent) studied abroad. The mark(s) should be recorded against the credit equivalent module(s) taken at the partner institution.

 Checklist for Approval of MoAs by QSC

Teaching Partnerships Workspace




Updated November 2017






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