This document establishes the framework under which the University of Derby should develop, approve and deliver Dual or Joint (“Dual / Joint”) Award programmes with partner institutions.
University of Derby is responsible for ensuring the academic standard of any programme offered or conferred by it, whether or not this is in collaboration with one or more other higher education providers. This framework aims to protect the integrity of University of Derby’s awards.
Development of the University of Derby’s Joint and Dual award framework has taken account the QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
The framework applies to all programmes that lead to a Dual / Joint award with the exceptions noted below. All proposals to offer a Joint or Dual award with one or more other institutions will be developed and approved in accordance with this framework.
This framework does not cover:
Collaborative programme/s where University of Derby is the sole awarding body
• Dual / Joint awards for Postgraduate Research Programmes
• Apprentice provision
Given the complexity, it is unlikely that any two arrangements will be the same and each arrangement needs to be considered in the context of the requirements of both/all parties.
Dual and Joint awards are distinct from other collaborative arrangements that the University is involved with in that they involve working with at least one other degree awarding body (in the UK or Internationally) in a way that requires some pooling of those awarding powers.
The University defines Dual / Joint awards as:
A combined package of study leading to two separate qualifications awarded by two separate awarding bodies. A dual award may provide an award at the same level or different levels. For example:
• Bachelors and Diploma
• Masters and Bachelors
Dual awards may provide students with the opportunity to complete two awards in a shorter timeframe than if completed separately. If a student only completes or meets the requirements for one of the awarding bodies, they will only receive one award.
While a Dual award programme may be based on an existing programme either at the partner or at University of Derby, it must be a combined initiative, designed and developed by both partners to offer a distinctive learning experience, which neither individual partner could offer independently.
Each Partner will be responsible for its own award, as such, an agreed approach to management and oversight of the programme will be required.
Students may spend time studying at each of the partners involved in the arrangement, but this is not an essential requirement.
A package of study jointly designed by two or more degree-awarding bodies, leading to a single award with a single certificate bearing the signatures of the competent authorities of all degree-awarding bodies involved.
To achieve the Joint award, a student must meet the learning outcomes jointly agreed for the award by all Institutions involved in the arrangement.
Such arrangements must be joint in all aspects and in roughly equal proportions of package design, delivery, assessment, management, and decision making on student achievement.
For Joint awards, the University of Derby expects to be the lead institution.
Students may spend time studying at each of the partners involved in the arrangement, but this is not an essential requirement.
Other Key Definitions:
Standards are the level of achievement that a student has to reach to gain an academic award (for example, a degree). For similar awards, the threshold level of achievement should be the same for any UK award.
An approved course of study, comprising of modules (core and / or optional), that provides a coherent learning experience and leads to an award.
4. Dual / Joint Award Framework
4.1.1 A legal agreement, providing details of the agreed management, financial, regulatory and quality assurance arrangements, must be signed by both parties following approval of a dual award or joint award and prior to its commencement. No students can be admitted to a programme before the signed agreement is in place.
4.2 Partners for Dual/Joint Awards:
4.2.1 Dual / Joint awards can only be entered into with established Higher Education Providers with degree awarding powers and the legal authority to award Dual / Joint degrees under its own national law.
4.2.2 In a Dual / Joint award arrangement each institution accepts that the content delivered by the other organisation is of the same quality and standard as its own award and to this end it is critical that the appropriate due diligence is undertaken to assure each Higher Education Provider of this.
4.2.3 The approved University of Derby due diligence process must be followed when any new partnerships are developed. Final responsibility for approving due diligence outcomes rest with the University Executive Board (UEB).
4.2.4 Due diligence should normally be revised / updated annually via the risk monitoring process.
4.2.5 The partner institution must be of at least equal standing to the University of Derby (see appendix 1).
4.2.6 The academic standing of staff at the partner institutions should be at least comparable to that of the University of Derby.
4.2.7 The University will normally only consider proposals for Dual / Joint award programme(s) from partners with which it already has a successful collaborative relationship, or those with a track record of successful delivery in the general subject area and academic level in question.
4.2.8 Proposals to develop joint awards will be approved on an exceptional basis only, due to the increased risk associated with them.
4.2.9 Discussions with the partner institution regarding the development proposals must be held by a senior member of University Management, e.g. the PVC Dean of the respective College and a senior member of Provost Learning and Teaching to ensure alignment to the University’s Learning, Teaching and Assessment Framework and pedagogic practice.
4.2.10 Both institutions must have meaningful and comparable input into the curriculum design and delivery.
4.2.11 For Dual awards, arrangements must be put in place to ensure that students are able to complete the University of Derby award in the event of partner closure. For Joint awards arrangements must be put in place to ensure that students are able to complete their programme of study in the event of partner closure.
4.3 Subject areas for Dual / Joint Awards:
4.3.1 A Dual / Joint award will only be offered in a subject area aligned with the University of Derby strategy (e.g. through its academic themes) and where it has appropriate subject expertise at the academic level of the proposal, and with significant experience of working with collaborative arrangements.
4.4 Language of tuition of Dual / Joint Awards
The preferred language of study and assessment for all awards is English.
4.4.1 For Dual award programmes, the University of Derby award will be taught and assessed in English.
4.4.2 For Joint awards, the University and the partner institution should formally agree the language of study for all learning, teaching and assessment. Normally the University expects that at least 50% of a Joint award will be taught in English.
This should be considered for approval at the validation event, subject to meeting the University's requirements within the Translation Policy.
4.5 Partner/Programme Approval Procedures
4.5.1 Strategic approval for both Dual awards and Joint award arrangements must be sought via University of Derby’s normal planning processes, which includes approval from Academic Board and Portfolio Development Board (including CPPG approval). Once strategic approval of a Dual / Joint award proposal has been obtained, the University’s usual programme approval procedures will be followed, including approval of academic partners, collaborative arrangements and validation of programmes/awards processes.
4.5.2 A validation and approval panel including appropriate experience in the design and management of collaborative provision will be appointed. The validation and approval panel will be responsible for assessing whether the programme as an entity (and its assessment strategy) delivers and tests programme outcomes at the appropriate FHEQ level for the award, maintains University of Derby’s academic standards as a degree awarding body and compliance with the Office for Students’ Regulatory Framework. The validation panel will also be responsible for recommending approval, or not, to relevant committees in the deliberative structure.
4.5.3 A conjoint approval process, involving both awarding bodies will be required. This must be approved by ADQC in advance. For Dual awards, a separate approval processes may be followed, however, both parties should be informed of the date and outcome of the other’s event(s) and receive a copy of the relevant programme approval reports/committee minutes. In all cases University of Derby must be able to assure itself that both University of Derby and the partner institution have approved the Dual / Joint award programme, and that all associated conditions have been signed- off, before the students can be admitted to the programme and the programme can commence.
4.6 Equal Standing
4.6.1 Assessing the equal academic standing of the partner institution to deliver Dual / Joint awards is an important part of the due diligence process as it will help ensure a common approach is adopted by both institutions. In doing so the University of Derby is also taking appropriate steps towards safeguarding its academic standards and reputation.
Please see Appendix 1 for guidance on assessing equal standing.
4.7 Learning, Teaching and Assessment Responsibilities
4.7.1 Each partner involved in University of Derby Dual / Joint awards must also be involved in programme delivery. One partner may have a greater commitment than the other/others with regard to delivery, and this commitment may vary over time. This will be agreed at the point of programme approval or re-approval. Each partner will generally deliver a substantial proportion of the programme at the level of the qualification they award. It must be ensured that the core/option spilt does not result in a student engaging only with one partner.
4.7.2 The learning, teaching and assessment responsibilities of both parties should be clearly outlined in both the contract agreement and the Operational Manual, including lead responsibility for each module.
4.7.3 Delivery may be via face-to-face, online or distance learning modes, or a combination (blended learning), and may not necessarily require students to attend both institutions in person.
4.7.4 All partner staff must be approved by University of Derby via the Associate Lecturer Approval process before they start to teach on a University of Derby programme.
4.7.5 For Dual awards University of Derby regulations on external examiners will be followed. External Examiners - Academic regulations - University of Derby. An External Examiner(s) will be appointed by University of Derby to the programme leading to the University of Derby award. While all formal communication with the External Examiner(s) will be made by University of Derby, both institutions will contribute to the responses to External Examiner reports. Where an External Examiner(s) is also appointed by the partner, joint appointments may be explored. Such arrangements must be approved by ADQC.
4.7.6 For Joint awards the University and the partner institution should jointly determine the External Examiner regulations, processes and responsibilities. In all circumstances the agreed principles must meet the University’s award standards requirements, including compliance to regulatory bodies. Joint award External Examiner arrangements must be presented to the validation panel for approval.
4.7.7 In order to ensure effective oversight of assessment, each partner will have the opportunity to review and comment on the assessment materials that the other provider(s) develop. The University of Derby will require that its College staff review and approve the form and content of proposed examination papers, programme work tasks and other assessments developed by the partner that contribute towards its award before their submission to the University of Derby External Examiner. Assessment design will be subject to the University of Derby’s translation policy should the assessment be issued in a language other than English..
4.7.8 For Dual awards University of Derby moderation procedures will be followed. University of Derby will normally require that its staff see a sample of examination scripts and a proportion of summative programme work marked by the partner for modules contributing to the University of Derby award to verify the standard of marking.
For Joint awards, both partners should engage in moderation activity on those elements of the programme that are the lead assessment responsibility of the other.
All moderation of assessments will be subject to the University of Derby’s Translation Policy.
4.7.9 For Dual awards, Assessment Boards will normally happen separately at each awarding institution. For Joint awards, the membership of the Assessment Board must be defined at the validation panel. Where shared Assessment Boards are appointed for Joint awards, representatives from both partners must be present and boards should be co-chaired.
4.8 Academic Regulations
4.8.1 Joint Awards:
For Joint awards, a single agreed set of academic regulations will be required. This can be either an agreement to follow the regulations of the lead partner, or bespoke regulations can be agreed.
For Joint awards, the University of Derby expects to be the lead institutions. The University’s Academic Regulations should be used as the basis for the development of single set of regulations to apply to the programme and must be agreed by both partners. The single set of regulations should meet the national and institutional requirements for each degree awarding body involved.
This should include:
• Credit framework
• Award title
• Assessment criteria
• Marking scheme conversion scale and procedure
• Pass marks
• Reassessment opportunities
• Progression requirements
• Minimum performance requirements
• Registration periods
• Recognised Prior Learning
• Authorised break in study
• Award classification, including borderline rules
• Complaints, appeals and academic offences procedures
The combined regulations must be presented at validation, with evidence that it meets University of Derby award standards requirements, including compliance to regulatory bodies.
4.8.2 Dual Awards:
As a Dual award leads to two separate qualifications awarded by two awarding bodies, each partner’s award will normally be governed by their own regulations. For the University of Derby, this will include the academic regulations listed here:
Academic regulations - About us - University of Derby
Combined regulations may exceptionally be developed for a dual award but in no way should any combined regulations compromise the spirit and rigour of University of Derby regulations.
4.9 Student Complaints, Academic Appeals, Academic Offences:
4.9.1 Procedures for Student Complaints, Academic Appeal and Academic Offences must be presented at partner approval, with evidence that they meet University of Derby regulatory requirements.
4.9.2 Students need to be given clear information about the procedure to be followed and which organisation should initially be approached in order to lodge a complaint or appeal.
4.9.3 Student Complaints: Dual Awards:
Student complaints will normally be handled in the first instance by the awarding body responsible for the delivery of the provision in question according to their own process. Subsequent stages would need to be handled collectively by both parties and full procedures must be approved as part of the partner approval process. Complaints regarding the programme as a whole would need to be dealt with both parties from the outset according to an agreed process. The agreed procedures must be comparable to those used at the University of Derby.
4.9.4 Student Complaints: Joint Awards:
The University and the partner institution should jointly determine how any student complaints will be handled, how the processes will be administered and by whom. The agreed procedures must be comparable to those used at the University of Derby.
4.9.5 Academic Appeals: Dual Awards:
Academic Appeals will be managed by the relevant awarding body. Academic Appeals relating to the University of Derby award, will be dealt with in line with published University of Derby Academic Appeals procedure: Academic Appeals - Academic regulations - University of Derby.
4.9.6 Academic Appeals: Joint Awards:
The University and the partner institution should jointly determine how any Academic Appeals will be handled, how the processes will be administered and by whom. The agreed procedures must be comparable to those used at the University of Derby.
4.9.7 Academic Offences (misconduct): Dual Awards
Academic Offences will be managed by the relevant awarding body. Academic Offences relating to the University of Derby award, will be dealt with in line with published University of Derby Academic Offence procedure: Academic Offences - Academic regulations - University of Derby.
Collaboration with both awarding bodies may be required if misconduct is widespread and a threat to both institutions’ academic integrity, i.e., in the event of more than one offence at both partners.
4.9.8 Academic Offences (misconduct): Joint Awards
The University and the partner institution should jointly determine how any Academic Offences will be handled, how the processes will be administered and by whom. The agreed procedures must be comparable to those used at University of Derby.
4.10 Recruitment, admissions, and enrolment
4.10.1 The responsibility of each awarding body in the admissions process must be agreed at validation and the admissions criteria should be defined within the Programme Specification/s.
Students will be registered at both institutions.
For Dual Awards:
4.10.2 Admissions onto the Dual award programme will be in line with the standard University of Derby admissions policy, including general entry requirements. This will be confirmed at the point of programme approval.
4.10.3 If students are admitted onto the programme with advanced standing, each partner must ensure that such students will have contact (which may be face-to-face or virtual) with both of them to reflect the nature of the Dual award. Admissions processes must reflect this requirement.
For Joint Awards:
4.10.4 The University of Derby and the partner institution should formally agree to mutual recognition of admissions procedures and requirements, subject to meeting the University of Derby’s minimum entry requirements as specified in the University of Derby’s general entry requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
4.11 Programme Management
4.11.1 The management of the programme must be shared in all aspects and in roughly equal proportions of programme design, delivery, assessment, management, and decision making on student achievement. Any exceptions to the principles regarding the respective involvement of partners in delivery of Dual / Joint awards must be approved by the Collaborative Partnerships Sub-Committee (CPSC) and Academic Development and Quality Committee (ADQC). Each awarding body should identify those staff at their institutions responsible for the management and oversight of programme(s). Details of how the programme will be collectively managed by both institutions should be provided with the validation documentation.
4.11.2 A Partnership Management Committee should be established, in line with the University of Derby’s guidance on the same and run to a schedule agreed between the partners. Governance of the Programme Management Committee will be via CPSC and ADQC
4.12 Quality Assurance
All partners will share responsibility for quality assurance of the programmes.
4.12.1 For Dual awards, the programme(s)s will be subject to the standard monitoring process for programmes delivered through collaborative arrangements. The mechanism for sharing the input and outcomes of continual monitoring between the two degree awarding bodies in order to make the process meaningful must be agreed before the commencement of the programme and documented. For Joint awards, an appropriate approach should be agreed through the validation process and ratified by CPSC and ADQC.
4.12.2 The procedures must be presented at the approval of the programme and collaborative arrangements, with evidence that they meet the University of Derby’s quality assurance requirements. Any bespoke arrangements must be comparable to University of Derby procedures.
4.12.3 Both parties must approve curriculum modifications which have an impact on their awards before they are introduced. Both parties must review amendments to ensure that they do not impact adversely on the requirement for each to have an active role in programme delivery.
4.12.4 All curriculum modifications impacting on the University of Derby award must be submitted to University of Derby for approval in accordance with the University curriculum modification procedure. Amendments which do not have an impact on the University of Derby award should be reported to University of Derby for information and vice versa.
4.12.5 For any module approvals subsequent to the initial programme approval procedure, the University of Derby will accept the detailed module approval processes undertaken at module level by its partners for those modules or components that the partners are delivering.
Quality and Standards Assessment
4.12.6 Monitoring and review of the programme and partner collaborative arrangements will follow the University of Derby’s normal Quality and Standards Assessment review procedures. The partners may undertake a joint review if it is judged to be beneficial.
4.13 Student Support and Engagement
4.13.1 Provision for student support and engagement should be comparable to that in place for students at University of Derby. The provision, and the responsibilities of each awarding body in these respects must be clearly outlined in the contract and the operational manual.
4.13.2 The use of virtual learning environments, and the respective responsibility of each party, should also be outlined in the contract and operational manual.
4.14.1 All information relating to the Dual / Joint award programme(s) must be approved by both parties before students are recruited or enrolled onto the programme(s) of study. Any amendments to programme information must also be approved by both parties. Programme information must make reference to both awarding bodies and clearly outline the respective responsibilities and relevant regulations and policies of each.
4.14.2 The format of programme documentation will be agreed by both parties. Where feasible University of Derby templates should be used. Any bespoke templates should be agreed as part of the validation and approval. The content of such documents must be comparable and accurate to those used for awards at University of Derby.
4.14.3 All publicity relating to the Dual award must be approved by University of Derby. Where publicity is in a language other than English the material will be subject to the University of Derby’s translation policy, prior to approval.
4.15 Student Records
4.15.1 Students will normally be registered with both awarding bodies. Students must be registered with the University of Derby to enable access to resources, services and for awarding purposes. Both parties must also agree as part of the validation and approval how student records will be kept. The status and rights of students in relation to both degree-awarding bodies must be made clear and meet the legal requirements of each awarding body.
4.15.2 Data sharing agreements must be referenced in the contract to ensure compliance with General Data Protection Regulations.
4.15.3 Students will normally have access to the resources of each of the partner organisation in relation to their registration/attendance status. Careful consideration should be given to students' registration status and concomitant student rights and needs for access to resources at each stage of the programme. License agreements in relation to e-resources, particularly where the partner institution is based overseas, must be considered and approved as part of the development process and approval process.
4.16 Certificates and Transcripts
4.16.1 All University of Derby official award documentation, including certificate, transcript, Higher Education Degree Record and Diploma Supplement must comply with QAA Guidance (see reference list in section 6).
4.16.2 For Dual awards, each institution involved will make its own arrangements for the conferment of the degree and graduation and for the certification of the awards. The award certificate and / or transcript* must provide sufficient information to clarify that a single ‘programme’ of study delivered in collaboration with a partner has led to two awards, in addition to the location(s) of study and language of study.
*To note, in some instances the University of Derby may issue a digital Higher Education Achievement Record in place of a paper transcript.
4.16.3 For Joint awards, a single certificate is produced bearing the official marks and signatures of both partners. The transcript must provide clear information that this is a single ‘programme’ of study delivered in collaboration and give the location(s) of study. The University of Derby and the partner institution should jointly determine requirements, responsibilities and processes for the issuing of formal certification. This should be articulated both in the contract and operational manual for the partner.
4.16.4 The format and content of all certificates and transcripts for Dual / Joint award programmes must be agreed by University of Derby.
4.17 Awards Ceremony
4.17.1 For Dual awards, students may be invited to attend University of Derby Award ceremony, relevant to their year of study.
4.17.2 For Joint awards, the University and the partner institution should formally agree arrangements for Award Ceremonies.
Appendix 1 – Assessing Equal Standing
The Quality Assurance Agency defines Dual / Joint awards in their 2020 publication of Characteristic Statement; Qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding body: Characteristics Statement: Qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding body (qaa.ac.uk)
The Quality Assurance Agency Higher Education Credit Framework: Advice on Academic Credit Arrangements: Higher Education Credit Framework for England: Advice on Academic Credit Arrangements (qaa.ac.uk)
Assessing Equal Standing
Assessing the equal academic standing of the partner institution to deliver Dual awards is an important part of the due diligence process as it will help ensure a common approach is adopted by both institutions. In so doing, the University of Derby is also taking appropriate steps towards safeguarding its academic standards and reputation. The criteria against which it is suggested ‘equal standing’ is considered against is set out in table 1.0
Given the potential higher risk of Dual / Joint awards, it is apposite that a more cautious approach is taken by the University of Derby at this early stage in its development of Dual / Joint qualifications.
The programme development team, in discussion with the Centre for Quality Assurance, should present a short report evidencing the equal academic standing for approval by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of College before being forwarded for approval. The assessment of equal standing should take place before development approval is sought from PDB.
The assessment of equal standing document should draw on appropriate evidence (see table 1.0) to outline the case for the partner institution in sufficient detail for the UEB to come to a judgement. The programme development team should have the evidence to support the case for equal standing readily available should UEB wish to see further and more detailed information.
Relationship with due diligence procedures for partner approval
The equal standing report should be attached as an appendix to the Development Approval Document (DAD) when it is considered at PDB. Relevant sections of the due diligence within the DAD can then make reference to the equal standing report, to minimise repetition and duplication across both documents.
Table 1.0 - Suggested areas for consideration and discussion as part of the equal standing review:
- Institutional details
- The name of the institution and its campus location(s), including any headquarters.
- Summary - A summary of the case for equal standing.
- Background - A brief description of the partner institution e.g. size and composition, including confirmation that it has the legal authority to award Dual / Joint qualifications in conjunction with a UK degree awarding body.
- Mission, vision, ethos - A brief discussion of how these elements compare to the those of the University of Derby.
- Academic portfolio - A brief description of the portfolio’s characteristics across undergraduate, postgraduate taught and research levels and degrees.
- Experience of working with Higher Education Institutions delivering Dual degrees - A list of any other Dual /Joint awards in which they are engaged or past experience of Dual /Joint awards and the respective HEI partner. Where there is no prior experience of Dual /Joint awards, then previous experience of working with UK HEIs, including the nature of the relationship, should be listed.
- Research profile - A brief description of the research undertaken across the institution and particularly within the subject area in which the Dual / Joint award is to be offered. The outcomes from external reviews of research should also be listed if available.
- Quality assurance mechanisms -A brief description of the mechanisms in place to assure academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities. This will be explored further in the Partner Approval process. Reference should be made to the outcomes of any external reviews undertaken by a national quality assurance agency, government departments, accrediting bodies or PSRBs. Where an outcome of an external review has led to a failed outcome or particular issues have had to be followed up, evidence should be provided to show the partner institution has addressed these issues and gained formal sign off by the appropriate body. Clarification should also be given of any mapping of equivalences of qualification frameworks.
- Professional body accreditation - Confirmation of any professional body accreditations, particularly in relation to the subject area where the Dual / Joint award is to be delivered. Reference should be made to any requirements of applicable PSRBs regarding Dual / Joint awards.
- National and international reputation - A brief description of the nature of the reputation of the partner institution: reference to appropriate league tables, national and international awards will be of value here.
- Clarification as to whether the institution is National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) recognised.
- Assessment of the University of Derby Confirmation that the proposed partner institution has made a satisfactory initial assessment of the suitability/equivalence of the University of Derby as a partner.
It is noted that not all partners will be able to provide all the information listed above; this does not preclude the development of the Dual / Joint award(s) providing that the University of Derby is prepared to take on the additional risk associated with the reduced information and that there is a robust academic and business case for proceeding with the development.