Academic Partnerships project

Academic partnerships allow providers without their own awarding powers to offer degrees and other higher education qualifications to their students through validation or sub-contractual arrangements. They form a key component of the sector's quality assurance landscape but are little understood, with a scarcity of guidance on good practice and information on current arrangements across the sector.

IHE led a project to address these issues, working with our partners Pinsent Masons and a steering group of key sector stakeholders. Our steering group included representatives from the Association of Colleges (AoC), Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), and an independent sector representative. Universities UK (UUK) was also involved in the project in an advisory capacity.

The aim of the project was to gain insights into:

  • the ways in which academic partnerships are managed in the UK
  • stakeholder perceptions of value in partnership provision
  • the costs and burdens associated with creating, maintaining and ending partnerships
  • methods for managing quality and risk
  • the impact of regulation on partnerships.

The project sought to identify tools to support more effective and long-lasting partnerships for the benefit of awarding and teaching partners, and ultimately their students.

The interim release from the project presents some early data from our surveys of teaching providers and awarding providers. It sets out definitions for a proposed typology of partnership arrangements for use by providers and policy makers.

The final report presents our findings from the research. It sets out our conclusions and recommendations and highlights the need for collaboration between all stakeholders to support and strengthen these valuable relationships for the benefit of students and providers in an ever-changing educational landscape.

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