Academic Manual


Section 1: UCL Policy and Regulations for the Quality Assurance of Academic Partnerships

Published for 2022-23

1.1 Introduction1.3 Policy
1.2 Definitions 

1.1 Introduction

1.Academic partnerships, as defined in Section 2.2 of this Framework, can offer many benefits to UCL, including opportunities to enhance our reputation and promote UCL’s academic networks both nationally and internationally.  All academic partnerships should be considered in terms of their alignment with UCL’s mission and 20-year strategy. International academic partnerships are also a key part of the UCL Global Engagement Strategy and our mission as London’s Global University.     
2.UCL academic partnerships with other organisations which contribute or lead to UCL credit and/or qualifications should enrich both our reputation and our contribution to society as London’s Global University.  This applies to academic partnerships both in the UK and beyond.  Similarly, UCL needs to ensure that when delivering education with other institutions it complies with all relevant national requirements and legislation, and that the student experience is enhanced, not compromised, by academic partnership arrangements.
3.The purpose of this framework is to provide information and guidance on for UCL’s policy for the inception, approval, operation and contractual framework of academic partnerships with other institutions, leading to UCL credit and/or qualifications (whether as sole, joint and multiple awards).
4.This chapter of the Academic Manual is intended to provide a regulatory framework for staff with regard to UCL’s requirements for the management of academic partnerships to deliver education with other institutions.
5.The processes set out ensure academic partnerships adhere to the requirements of the Office for Students Regulatory Framework and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Quality Code, as well as other external regulatory and legislative requirements and best practice.

1.2 Definitions

1.Across the higher education sector, there is varied terminology in use which refers to academic partnerships: ‘collaborative provision’ or ‘collaborative programmes’ have the same meaning.
2.This definition covers a wide range of provision from Teaching Contribution arrangements, where another institution delivers, or contributes to the delivery of, one or more modules on a UCL degree programme, to jointly delivered and awarded degrees with other institutions.  An extensive list of types is provided in Annex 8.1 Forms of Academic Partnerships but advice is available from the Academic Policy and Quality Assurance team for any member of UCL staff who is unsure as to whether a potential programme, or element of a programme, may be classified as an academic partnership.
3.This definition does not cover provision of short courses, such as those supported by the Short Courses Support Team. 
4.The term ‘qualification’ within this and any associated documents refers to a higher education doctorate, degree, diploma or certificate accredited and conferred by UCL following the successful completion of an approved programme of study. A UCL academic partnership always relates to teaching activity that leads to a UCL qualification or the award of UCL credit.

1.3 Policy


 UCL is responsible for the quality and standards of all academic qualifications made in its name.  Consequently, its academic partnerships should be based on the premise that:

  • the academic standards of all UCL qualifications involving collaboration with partner organisations must be compatible with UCL’s regulations, policies and procedures, and with external reference points including those set out by the Office for Students Regulatory Framework and QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education, 
  • the quality of student learning opportunities and experiences on collaborative programmes should be equivalent to those of comparable qualifications delivered and supported solely by UCL, and adequate to enable students to achieve the appropriate academic standards.

As UCL is responsible for the academic standards of all of its qualifications, UCL will only consider entering into partnerships with other organisations:

  • which will support the achievement of UCL’s mission and 20-year strategy;
  • which have the academic standing to deliver collaborative programmes to appropriate academic standards (where relevant); the human, physical and financial standing to sustain them; and the legal standing to contract to their delivery;
  • which will enable UCL to effectively to meet its responsibilities for the quality and standards of its qualifications;
  • which will enable UCL to discharge its responsibilities to any professional, statutory or regulatory body (PSRB) that has approved or recognised the relevant programme; 
  • which are able to enter into a written and legally binding agreement or contract setting out details of the collaboration and the rights and obligations of the parties, which is signed by the authorised representatives of both UCL and the partner organisation.
3.All proposals for academic partnerships must only be considered according to the policies and procedures approved by UCL to ensure that the potential partner meets all of the requirements of paragraph 2 above.  No academic partnerships shall be permitted to progress unless approval has been granted via these processes. No agreements relating to academic partnership activity are signed unless the processes outlined in this Framework have been followed.
4.Once a partnership with another organisation has been approved and a formal, legally-binding agreement signed, the details of the partnership and the programme(s) offered through it shall be entered on the University's Register of Academic Partnerships. This is a comprehensive list of all UCL academic partnerships which meet the definition given in Section 2.2 and which is maintained by UCL Academic Services.
5.The level of risk involved with each partnership should be assessed and managed accordingly. The Academic Policy and Quality Assurance team will advise Departments and Faculties on the risks involved with each proposed partnership. 
6.All academic partnerships will be monitored for academic standards and quality on an annual and periodic basis.  UCL reserves the right to suspend or terminate any partnership if it perceives that academic standards are at risk, subject to safeguards for students.  Renewal of existing academic partnerships will be subject to approval by the Academic Partnerships Review Group.
7.Governance of academic partnerships and operational responsibility will be set out in the agreed process and procedures.