Approval to proceed must be secured from the relevant Faculty Executive Board (FEB) for all proposed collaborative arrangements to allow formal approval mechanisms to be instigated on behalf of the University’s Collaborative Provision Group (CPG). Requirements for Approval to Proceed are as follows:
- Delivery involving a UK/EU Partner and/or Context
The initial proposal must be discussed and approved at the relevant FEB using the Approval to Proceed pro-forma and include an agreed business plan and market rationale. Faculties may develop and adopt their own procedures, in line with their respective internal governance structures, to facilitate completion and endorsement of this documentation to ensure alignment with strategic aims and available resources. Relevant Faculty Deans and School Directors of Education should also be consulted as proposals are developed to ensure these align with Faculty and School plans.
It is recommended that the business plan should be prepared by the School in conjunction with the Faculty Student Recruitment and Finance Hub. The business plan must include realistic student number projections. Estimated costs should, for example, include any travel, accommodation, staff development and validation panel costs. The business plan must be signed by the approved Head of School, Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the Director of Finance (or nominee) and include agreement on any proposed non-standard fees or commission payments that may feature.
The paperwork should also include a completed Risk Assessment and, where a joint or dual award is proposed, evidence that the University’s Policy on such matters has been considered and key principles addressed.
The FEB shall consider:
- Whether the proposed collaboration is consistent with the University’s corporate plan and the Faculty’s strategic objectives. (strategic fit)
- Whether it would be appropriate to undertake the proposed collaboration in view of the Faculty’s existing collaborative arrangements and other commitments. (resources)
- A statement in relation to the quality of the proposed partner (following consideration of due diligence) and any risks previously identified.
- Delivery involving an International Partner and/or Context
International arrangements by their nature can carry an additional and significant level of potential risk to academic standards, requiring detailed scrutiny and an enhanced level of due diligence by the University. As such all proposed new educational international partnerships are required to undergo a strategic, triage based assessment process for Approval to Proceed (the “International Partnership Triage Process”).
Each School/Faculty may adopt its own procedures to progress a proposed new international link, in line with their internal governance structures, a suggested model is available for adoption. As a minimum however, all proposals must be supported by the appropriate School Management Board (SMB) and FEB (or the assigned delegated authority of each). Engagement with and endorsement by the School Director of Internationalisation and the Faculty Dean of Internationalisation in relation to all early stage discussion with a potential international partner is essential. A checklist document has been developed to help inform such conversations as a first stage in the triage process.
Should there be sufficient support, Schools should progress to complete the the 'Key Issues' pro-forma and provide appropriate supporting documentation for Faculty review, including a completed Risk Assessment (Stage 2 Triage). Where a joint or dual award is proposed, evidence that the University's Policy has been considered and that key principles have been addressed.
The documentation will be considered by the relevant FEB (Stage 2 Triage), which, if agreed, will normally request the development of an appropriate business case to support the proposed arrangement. Faculties may also advise the drafting of a dedicated Partnership Management Plan to support ongoing project development and implementation. The business case will then be reviewed by Faculty and a decision on Approval to Proceed confirmed (Stage 3 Triage). Academic Affairs will be informed prior to business case development and appropriate support provided as necessary, in conjunction with other Professional Support Services.
Where a new initiative with an International Partner is proposed involving cross-Faculty support, non-standard features (such as a fee discount outside the University Fee Framework) and/or where decisions need to be expedited in response to an available opportunity, proposals may be triaged through the International Partnerships Group (IPG) rather than SMB and FEB. Chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Engagement, the IPG meets on a monthly basis to consider such arrangements. Its membership includes the Faculty Deans of Internationalisation and representation from Finance, Academic and Student Affairs, Research and Enterprise, and Marketing, Recruitment, Communications and Internationalisation, (MRCI) as well as relevant School Directors of Internationalisation. The Group is to ensure strategic alignment and provide increased agility in the agreement of collective actions and further due diligence required to realise partnership opportunities, including clarity on student visa requirements at a very early stage of programme design/development.
FEB must inform the Secretary to the CPG if the proposal is given Approval to Proceed and supply the name of the University Coordinator, providing confirmation of the decision taken and copies of the supporting documentation. The Secretary will then contact the lead School (or Faculty depending on the extent/nature of the arrangement) and the Director/Principal of the collaborative organisation setting out the required documentation and timetable for approval.