Handbook For Validated Awards 2020-2021 - Open University

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Handbook forValidated Awards2020-2021

Table of ContentsA INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND . ction . 4What are OU validated awards? . 7THE INSTITUTIONAL APPROVAL AND REAPPROVALPROCESS. 8Criteria for initial consideration .10The principles and process of institutional approval .12Stages in the approval process .15Decisions arising from Institutional Approval meetings .24Institutional Reapproval .25PROCEDURES FOLLOWING INSTITUTIONALAPPROVAL OR REAPPROVAL . 30Institutional agreement.31Information about the OU to students and staff .34Relationships with University staff .35Institutional post-approval changes .36Exiting the Partnership .37VALIDATION AND REVALIDATION . 38Principles for Validation and Revalidation .40Validation and Revalidation.47Work-based Learning .55Approval of flexible and distributed learning courses and programmes58Accelerated Degrees .59Changes to programmes of study .61Other validation and revalidation issues.63ANNUAL MONITORING. 67E1E2E3E4FWhat is annual monitoring? .68Scrutinising the annual monitoring reports .70Feedback .72Using feedback .73ASSESSMENT AND EXTERNAL EXAMINERS . 75F1F2F3Assessment regulations for validated awards .78Regulations relating to External Examiners .88External Examiner briefing .97Page 1 of 133

F4 Board of examiners requirements .99F5 Role of University representatives attending boards of examiners atpartner institutions .101F6 Examination Boards: Requirements for the Approval of Awards .104F7 Graduation Ceremonies .104G REGISTRATION . 105G1HH1Student registration .106EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY . 108Equality and Diversity .109APPENDIX 1: STUDENT COMPLAINTS AND APPEALSPROCEDURE . 110APPENDIX 2: GLOSSARY . 123APPENDIX 3: REQUIREMENTS FOR PROGRAMMEDOCUMENTATION . 128Page 2 of 133

AIntroduction and .5A1.6A1.7Institutional approval and validated awardsAuthority for institutional approval, review and reapprovalThe principle of peer reviewThe supporting role of the OUThe powers of the OUQuality assuranceDefinitions of key processes for Institutional Approval andValidationA2What are OU validated awards?A2.1A2.2The nature of OU validated awardsApproval of new awardsPage 3 of 133

A1IntroductionThe Open University’s missionThe Open University (OU) was founded by Royal Charter in 1969. It has an internationalreputation for the quality of its teaching by supported open learning, for its research and foroffering a university education to many students who would not otherwise have had theopportunity to study. The OU’s mission can be summarised thus: The Open University isopen to people, places, methods and ideas.A1.1 Institutional approval and validated awardsOU validated awards are conferred under the OU’s Royal Charter. They are of comparablestandard to those made to students directly registered with the OU and other UKuniversities. They are available to approved partner institutions, able to demonstrate theirability to quality assure their own provision, in a validated relationship with the OU. Anyorganisation offering programmes of study at higher education level may seek to becomeapproved by the OU and offer programmes leading to its validated awards.The approval of an institution wishing to offer OU validated awards is required beforeprogrammes of study can be validated. Once an institution is approved, a legally bindinginstitutional agreement is drawn up setting out the relationship between the OU and theinstitution and defining their responsibilities. Institutions may not market or recruit students toany validated programmes until they are in receipt of the legally binding institutionalagreement.A1.2 Authority for institutional approval, review andreapprovalThe authority for approving, reviewing and for reapproving partner institutions, and validatingand revalidating programmes, rests with the OU Senate and is exercised through the OU’sCurriculum Partnership Committee (CuPC) for all decisions concerning Institutional(Re)approval and Programme (Re)validation.A1.3 The principle of peer reviewInstitutional approval, institutional review, validation and revalidation processes are based onthe principle of peer review delivered through a panel of suitably qualified and experiencedacademics and industry experts. Authority for all approval rests with the CuPC. The approvalprocess is complete once the conclusions have been considered at the committee and allconditions have been met by the partner.Each panel must include an appropriate balance in its membership and operate in thecontext of the OU’s requirements for institutional approval and programme approval as setout in this handbook.A1.4 The supporting role of the OUIn addition to establishing the conditions for institutional and programme (re)approval, theOU supports the validation and revalidation processes and seeks to promote and maintainhigh academic standards by: Providing a framework of policies designed to foster the development of institutionsas strong, cohesive and self-critical academic communities; Acting as a source of information and advice about good practice in respect of allmatters relating to academic quality and standards; Providing a forum for debate on matters of academic and institutional development;Page 4 of 133

Facilitating collaboration and interaction between the OU, institutions offeringprogrammes leading to its awards, and national and international organisations,including professional bodies, employers and students.Appointing External Examiners for validated awards and attending all examination orassessment boards where awards are made in the OU’s name or where progression isagreed.A1.5 The powers of the OUThe assurance of the academic standards of the validated programmes offered as OUvalidated awards is a matter of prime importance to the OU. The OU will take any action itconsiders necessary under its Royal Charter to protect the quality of validated programmesof study and the standard of its validated awards.A1.6 Quality assuranceAs a UK University, the OU is subject to the requirements and expectations of UK highereducation, as represented by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).The QAA publishes the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, guidance on academiccredit, subject benchmark statements and a range of associated guidelines. For moreinformation, see http://www.qaa.ac.uk.The OU expects partner institutions to demonstrate knowledge and understanding ofthe UK Quality Code and to take account of this in their institutional quality assurancearrangements, programme submissions and delivery of validated programmes.A1.7 Definitions of key processes for InstitutionalApproval and ValidationInstitutional approvalInstitutional approval is the process through which an institution and its underpinningadministrative and operational processes and procedures are judged to meet all theprinciples set out in Section B2 of this handbook and to provide a satisfactoryenvironment for the presentation of programmes leading to OU validated awards.Approval of an institution is a prerequisite for the approval of any programme of study andit follows that, where institutional approval is withdrawn, programme approval is alsosuspended or withdrawn.Programme validationProgramme validation is the process whereby a judgement is reached about whether ornot a programme of study designed to lead to an OU validated award, or the award ofcredit1, meets the principles and requirements for that award. OU validated awards mustbe equivalent in standard to comparable awards throughout higher education in theUnited Kingdom.Institutional reapprovalInstitutional reapproval is the process whereby a partner institution is critically reviewed,appraised and reapproved at intervals of not more than five years, and through whichplans for change are considered.Interim ReviewAn Interim Review may be required and instigated, where it is deemed necessary and atany point during the validation period. This is usually required following a change in the1This relates to those students who achieve an exit award within a programme of study.Page 5 of 133

partner institution’s circumstances or as a result of concerns raised in relation to thequality of the provision or the academic standards of the OU Validated Award.Programme revalidationProgramme revalidation is the process whereby a validated programme of study iscritically appraised at intervals of not more than five years, and through which plans forchange are considered.MonitoringMonitoring is the regular internal process by which an institution critically appraises theoperation of each validated programme of study and ensures that appropriate standardsare maintained. The OU requires annual programme evaluation reports from partnerinstitutions and separate Annual Monitoring and Institutional and Programme Monitoringreports that evaluate the effectiveness of monitoring and other quality assurancearrangements.OU validated awardsOpen University Validation Partnerships (OUVP) manages the approval and review ofinstitutions and the validation of their programmes on behalf of the OU. Allcommunications should therefore be directed to OUVP at: [email protected] 6 of 133

A2What are OU validated awards?A2.1 The nature of OU validated awardsOU validated awards are designed to ensure that they meet the requirements of the HigherEducation Qualification Frameworks of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) orwhere relevant the Scottish Framework (SCQF). See the Regulations for validated awards ofThe Open University for details.From 1 September 2015 all partner institutions are required to comply with the Regulationsfor validated awards of The Open University. Some institutions are approved to operateunder dual awards regulations.Partner institutions are also responsible for maintaining the academic standards of the OU(see the UK Quality Code) and are therefore required to align their programmes to the UKQuality Code in the same way.A2.2 Approval of new awardsThe Senate will take advice from the Education Committee before proposing theestablishment of any new type of validated award to the OU Council.The OU will consider proposals in the context of its Curriculum Strategy, and the wholerange of OU validated awards and their relationship to each other and to the awards of otherbodies. In particular, the OU will consider the: Characteristics and level of the proposed award, what would both distinguish it fromexisting awards and relate it to them, and the place of the award in the relevantnational qualifications framework; Suitability of existing awards for the proposed programme of study; Likely demand for, and recognition of, the proposed award by institutions, studentsand employers.Page 7 of 133

BThe Institutional Approval andReapproval processContentsB1 Criteria for initial ns concerning financial security, legal standing, andadministrative infrastructureEquality and diversitySafeguarding (Student Welfare)PreventThe OU’s vision of a fair and just societyHealth and SafetyThe principles and process ofinstitutional approvalPrinciple 1: Provision of an appropriate learning environmentPrinciple 2: Independence of institutional ownership from the exercise ofacademic authorityPrinciple 3: Appropriate academic organisation and the administrativestructure to support itPrinciple 4: Robust and rigorous quality assurance and enhancementinformed by the UK Quality CodePrinciple 5: Relations with the wider academic communityB3Stages in the approval processStag

validated awards is a matter of prime importance to the OU. The OU will take any action it considers necessary under its Royal Charter to protect the quality of validated programmes of study and the standard of its validated awards. A1.6 Quality assurance As a UK University, the OU is subject to the requirements and expectations of UK higher education, as represented by the Quality Assurance .

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