Update with Professor Helen Higson: December 2010

New collaborative provision guidelines for the University are now available to staff

In this column, Helen Higson is joined by Sarah Davies, Assistant Registrar to take Aspects through the new collaborative provision guidelines for the University (now available on the website!).

As the University nears the end of the Aston 2012 strategy it is clear that partnership work has become increasingly important, with a huge surge in the number of partnerships the University has developed. As a result, collaborative provision will play a key role in the Aston 2020 strategy.

A Collaborative Provision Strategy Group (CPSG) was established in 2004 specifically to advise, guide and monitor Aston’s work in this area, and to ensure that the University has good quality assurance in all its partnership work. Reporting to the Learning and Teaching Committee, the Group also aims to identify and reduce the risks associated with collaborative work, particularly in areas where there is no precedent or where there could be a risk to Aston’s IP, brand or reputation. (Aston’s Risk Assessment highlighted collaborative provision as one of the University’s highest risks.) Representatives in the Group consist of staff from a wide range of departments including the Schools, Finance and the Business Partnership Unit.

Recently new collaborative provision guidelines have been published on the website and these cover all forms of collaboration. New features include:

  • An update to reflect the University’s new programme approval process

  • Guidance on research students working away from the University

  • Guidance for Aston University awards which fall outside the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

  • Guidance on the accreditation of employer training

  • Circumstances where a joint award might be considered.

There are different guidelines depending on whether the collaboration is working within the national framework, awarding an Aston qualification or giving a record of attendance. Sarah explains the approval process for collaborative provision: “The first thing the CPSG looks for is School backing. The School needs to give its support, as ultimately there will be administrative and academic costs with each proposal. To begin with, the proposal follows the normal procedures for all new programmes [view the easy to understand CPSG approval flowchart!] but then has an additional level of scrutiny by CPSG. The type of collaboration will determine the length of the approval process. For instance, if it is an institution that Aston has previously collaborated with or it’s a familiar form of partnership then it will be a faster process than a totally new form of agreement. If it is with a totally new institution then there a number of additional checks to be made.”

Most agreements tend to be subject area based in the first instance and, therefore, start with a discussion with one of the Schools. It might be that an overseas institution is keen to collaborate on a particular course and we have the reputation in that particular subject area. Collaboration can take many forms and can be financial or strategic. Although some might not give a huge financial gain, they may establish Aston University in areas of the world where the University is not as well known.

“The growth in collaborations is universal across all five Schools”, explains Sarah. “Many of the agreements are breaking new ground and are totally new to the University. I want to urge staff to use the CPSG as a sounding board. The Group has a wealth of expertise and knowledge in this area and is always willing to offer guidance on setting up an effective collaboration. The new templates also offer staff a good starting point to work from.”

View documentation on collaborative procedures.

View the register of Aston’s current International Partnership Agreements.

For further information, please contact Sarah Davies, Assistant Registrar on ext 4657 or at s.j.davies@aston.ac.uk.

Words by Louise Russell 

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