Includes: university procedure for closing or suspending a programme of study; automatic closure of a programme; curriculum team
This page sets out the University procedure for closing or suspending a programme of study to protect the interests of students, applicants and the University.
A School may not close or suspend a programme on its own authority because of the contractual liabilities between students, applicants and the University.
Decisions to close or suspend a programme of study should be taken in good time, ideally around 18 months before the closure or suspension is to take effect, to remove the possibility of applications and subsequently offers being made to prospective students. Wherever possible, decisions to close or suspend a programme of study should be reported at the UK campus Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s (FPVCs) annual curriculum strategic review meetings (in May of the year before the affected intake) or local equivalent (UNM/UNNC).
Programmes which regularly recruit low numbers of students, fewer than 10, will be highlighted to FPVCs as part of the annual curriculum strategic review meetings or local equivalent (UNM/UNNC). Programmes which recruit low numbers over a three year period will be expected to close unless the Faculty/School is able to demonstrate it has taken steps to improve future recruitment.
1. School and Faculty Endorsement
Endorsement for the closure or suspension of a programme of study should be sought at School level, followed by endorsement from the FPVC (or local equivalent UNM/UNNC).
There may be local variations for seeking endorsement depending on School/Faculty or campus structures; however, at the end of this stage there should be clear support from both the School and the FPVC (or local equivalent UNM/UNNC) to close or suspend a programme of study.
Endorsement can be recorded via email or noted in committee minutes; evidence of endorsement should be retained by Schools as it may be requested later for audit purposes.
All closures and suspensions will require endorsement at School and Faculty level before proceeding formally with the process.
2. Consultation with the wider University
Due to the contractual liabilities between students, applicants, and the University, it is essential that plans for closures and suspensions are discussed with other departments before making the formal request to close or suspend a programme. This is to ensure all possible implications and consequences for prospective students and current students have been considered and mitigated. Any concerns raised during the consultation should be noted in the formal recommendation to close or suspend a programme, including any mitigations to be put in place. Evidence of consultation should be retained by Schools as it may be requested later for audit purposes.
A current list of UK internal contacts is available on the Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team Sharepoint (internal open) to assist with this activity:
Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team - Internal Contacts
The following teams/departments (or local equivalent UNM/UNNC) must be consulted prior to submitting a formal closure or suspension request:
- Faculty Marketing Team (to consider marketing implications of closure or suspension)
- Faculty Finance Team (to consider financial implications of closure or suspension)
- Student Recruitment Team (to consider recruitment implications of closure or suspension, and the number of applications/offers)
The following teams/departments (or local equivalent UNM/UNNC) must be consulted in certain circumstances:
- Other Schools (if joint, major/minor, interdisciplinary programme, or if any resulting module closures can be taken by students from other Schools)*
- Current students (if applicable, see section 4)
- Overseas campuses (if applicable)**
- Registry and Academic Affairs Partnerships, Placements and Mobility Team (if partnership)
- Professional and Workbased Learning Team (if apprenticeship)
- Professional/statutory/regulatory bodies (if applicable)
- Legal Team (if applicable e.g., for contract advice)
- HR Business Partner (if there are staffing implications) ***
- Head of Strategic Partners (if TUNIC offer holders are affected)
*In the case of joint, major/minor, and interdisciplinary courses, the School must obtain the agreement of the partner School(s) to the closure or suspension before submitting the formal recommendation.
**The closure or suspension of a programme which is offered on multiple campuses should be discussed and agreed on all campuses prior to the submission of the formal recommendation.
***If there are any HR implications in relation to the closure or suspension of a programme (i.e. redundancy) please contact your Faculty HR Business Partner for advice. HR matters are not considered as part of the programme closure or suspension process and should be considered separately.
At the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) and the University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus (UNNC), the view of the relevant campus committee will be sought prior to the submission of a formal recommendation, so that the impact of the decision on the University as a whole can be taken into consideration.
3. Complete Programme Closures/Suspension MS Form
Once Schools are satisfied that they have appropriate endorsement (step 1) and consulted the relevant university departments (step 2), the MS Form can be completed to formally request the closure or suspension of a programme of study.
Request to close or suspend a programme of study - MS form
Schools recommending closure or suspension of a programme are expected to provide information in support of the recommendation, which includes:
- The rationale for closure or suspension
- Information about student numbers and applications
- Impact on other Schools/Campuses/Partnerships and any proposed arrangements (if applicable)
- The proposed arrangements for existing students, any consultation that has taken place with students (if applicable) and objections raised
- The proposed arrangements for applicants and offer holders (if applicable)
- Details about the consultation with other university departments, including any issues raised and mitigations put in place to address them
4. Obtaining approval from Quality and Standards Committee
Includes: programme closure/suspension request template; requirements; rationale
Recommendations to close or suspend a programme of study will be considered in the first instance by the Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT) on behalf of QSC. A recommendation for closure or suspension will be accepted by CAAT on behalf of QSC where there are no registered students or offer holders, and the School can demonstrate that there is no impact on other Schools, departments, partnerships or campuses.
Any requests for closure or suspension that has implications for applicants or current students will be passed to QSC for consideration. QSC will only accept the recommendation to close or suspend the programme of study if the rationale is sufficiently strong to justify the disruption to students and/or applicants/offer holders, and if the arrangements for students and/or applicants/offer holders satisfy the requirements in the following sections.
Conditions under which a programme may be permitted to close
Includes: sufficient causes for closing or suspending a programme; discussion and documentation of proposed course closure
Whilst not exhaustive, the following reasons may be regarded as a sufficient cause for closing or suspending a programme of study:
- The demand for the programme does not cover the cost of delivery (i.e. not financially viable)
- Staff involved in teaching the programme are temporarily or permanently unavailable and it is unduly difficult or impossible to replace them
- External bodies make changes that lead to a recommendation to close or suspend the programme
- Review of a School or Faculty teaching portfolio leads to a change in the range of programmes the School wishes to provide
Arrangements for current students
Where the recommendation is to close or suspend the programme to new entrants only (i.e. current students are not affected), current students must be allowed to complete their designated period of study.
Where the recommendation is to close or suspend the programme and current students will be affected, the views of current students (including those whose registration is suspended but have not yet completed the programme) on the proposed arrangements should be sought by the School before submitting the request.
The consultation must encompass the following:
- Confirmation that the standard of provision to current students will be maintained throughout their period of study
- Confirmation that the previously stated learning outcomes of the programme will still be achievable by current students, even if the range of module choices is smaller because of staffing reductions
- Options for current students regarding transferring to another programme within the University or to another institution
Schools have autonomy over how they invite students to share their views; however, Schools should ensure all affected students are invited to express their views if they wish. Consultation might include one of more or the following methods:
- Learning Community Forum discussion
- Running an in-person seminar/ drop-in session
- Running a Teams session
- Posting information on Moodle
- Emailing students
The School will be expected to provide evidence of the consultation on the formal notification to close or suspend a programme, including detail about any objections raised by students in the consultation.
Arrangements for prospective students
All communications with applicants on these matters must be undertaken by External Relations and Admissions or equivalent. Applicants should not be contacted until a closure or suspension request has been accepted. Schools need to consider and agree options for applicants who have accepted offers (i.e. transferring to another programme or another institution) before they are informed.
UCAS should be notified by informing the University's UCAS correspondent when the closure or suspension recommendation has been accepted on behalf of QSC.
Once a closure or suspension recommendation has been accepted, the School must ensure that all necessary amendments are made to School and University publications and websites.