To gain approval for a proposed collaboration a number of factors have to be taken into consideration or be addressed.  These are:

More details on the key principles, the documentation and the stages and levels of approval required are set out below. See also the types of collaboration section for more information on what is required for approval.

Consideration will also have to be given to: in-country Governmental approval to deliver UK programmes at the level proposed for collaborations with an international partner; and to any professional, statutory and regulatory body (PSRBs) approval or recognition, if this is relevant to a specific programme.

The approval route flowchart summarises the various steps in the approval process described below. The 'red arrow' route shows the normal flow of the approval process but you should note that, with the exception of stage 3 approval, the flow or sequence of events may vary. 

‌‌Approval Route Flowchart - small (November 2012)


Key principles

Any proposal for a new collaborative partnership should comply with the following principles, which will be used to address the suitability of proposed collaboration.  The proposal should:

a) be consistent with University, College and School/ RI strategic priorities, including internationalisation strategic priorities;

b) be with highly regarded institutions which have been selected as strategic partners, with whom we share common aims and interests and with whom we can build sustainable and mutually beneficial alliances;

c) contribute positively to the University’s national and international standing;

d) demonstrate financial viability and sustainability defined in an appropriate business plan;

e) deliver comparable quality of the student learning experience with equivalent student support arrangements;

f)  ensure that all elements contributing to a University of Glasgow award are delivered and assessed in English, unless that element is a non-English course.

Stages & levels of approval

There are a number of stages for the approval of a proposed collaboration. The nature of the collaboration and the associated risk determines the level of approval and the number of stages involved (see below).

 Level of Approval - CollegeLevel of Approval - Senate 
Nature of Proposal
  • Student Exchange/Study Abroad programme
  • Recognition of other HEI's courses/modules
  • With approved Institutions: Distance Delivery, Joint Delivery, Jointly awarded degrees (Taught and Research) and Double (Dual)/Multiple degrees (Taught & Research)
  • Articulation [1+3; 2+2] i.e. one year spent at home institution and three at Glasgow or two years spent at home institution and two at Glasgow [and equivalent breakdown for PGT programmes]
  • New provision with approved 'franchise' partners
  • With new partners/countries: Distance Delivery, Joint Delivery, Jointly awarded degrees (Taught and Research) and Double (Dual)/Multiple degrees (Taught & Research)
  • Articulation (models other than those listed for College approval)
  • Transfer in/out of provision
  • Hybrids
  • Other
  • Approval of new validated institutions
  • Approval of new 'franchise' institutions
Stages of Approval Stages 1 and 2 Stages 1, 2 and 3

The stages of approval are:  School/RI; College and Senate.

Stage 1 – School or Research Institute

  • School or Research Institute consideration of a proposal is the first stage in the approval process.  Having taken advice and soundings on the proposal, an outline business plan and risk assessment should be developed.  Depending on the nature of the proposal, scrutiny may be undertaken by the School Learning & Teaching or Research and Knowledge Transfer Committees or the School Management Group. The Head of School or Director of Research Institute is responsible for approving proposals prior to their submission to the College.

Stage 2 - College

  • Following Stage 1, a fully developed proposal, as supported by the Business Development Manager, should be submitted to the College for approval. The final proposal should include a fully developed business plan and costing model; completed Collaboration Proposal Form; risk assessment form and draft Memorandum of Agreement (if available).  [It is not always necessary to provide the MoA as part of the approval process]. College consideration may be undertaken by the College Learning & Teaching/ Research/ Graduate Studies Committee, Board of Studies or the College Management Group, as appropriate to the nature of the collaboration and the relevant process within your College. You should liaise with the College Head of Academic and Student Administration to establish the relevant approval process including the dates of relevant meetings and timescales for the submission of papers.
  • Although the approval processes may differ between each College, they should adhere to the established approval frameworks outlined should be adhered to.
  • Normally approval is delegated to the College where the partner institution is deemed to be an ‘existing’ partner.  To qualify as an ‘existing partner’ there must be a current Memorandum of Agreement in place with that institution. A current student exchange arrangement or Memorandum of Understanding will not normally suffice.  However, the existence of a long standing relationship of this nature will help to support the institutional approval process.
  • Where the College has delegated authority for approval, it should:
    • report any approved collaborative programme to the Academic Standards Committee.
    • report the outcome of any approval to the Academic Collaborations Office for inclusion in the collaborations database.
    • forward a copy of the original signed Memorandum of Agreement or pdf copy to the Academic Collaborations Office.  

 Stage 3 – Senate

  • Where the proposal requires Stage 3 (Senate) approval the College should submit the proposal, including the supporting documentation, to the Academic Collaborations Office with its recommendations.  The Head of College must sign off on the Collaboration Proposal Form to confirm College support and that the relevant information and data have been scrutinised. The Academic Collaborations Office will arrange to submit the proposal to the Collaborations Group for consideration. Senate approval is required for collaborative proposals where there is a novel aspect – for example, collaboration with a new partner or in a new country or where there are broader strategic, policy or resource implications.  These arrangements generally involve greater risk for the University.

The Collaborations Group

  • The Collaborations Group seeks assurances that the proposal has been scrutinised and has the full support of the College both academically and financially and that it aligns with the University Strategy and College strategic planning.  In addition, it looks for evidence that consideration has been given to the reputation of the proposed partner institution and the risk associated with the proposed collaboration. Additional reputational information on the ranking of the institution and its standing in the field in question is normally provided by External Relations as well as information on the initial market assessment undertaken in liaison with External Relations.
  • For ease of communication and speed, the group is consulted electronically. 
  • More information on the membership of the Collaborations Group can be found here
  • The Collaborations Group will make a recommendation for approval to the Education, Policy and Strategy Committee (EdPSC), or Research, Planning and Strategy Committee (RPSC) in the case of research degrees, and thereafter Senate and Court (if necessary)

Institutional Site Visit

  • As the proposal develops dialogue with the partner institution will undoubtedly be required at some level.  Depending on the nature of the arrangement this may also involve a visit to assess the facilities and resources.   However, in addition to this and as part of the approval process, the Collaborations Group may decide, following consideration of the supporting evidence, that further assurances concerning the partner institution are required.  If this is the case, the Group will recommend an independent site visit. Any costs associated with an independent site visit will be met by the sponsor School/RI/College. It is important, therefore, that costs for a potential visit are included in your business plan.  
  • The type of the visit to a proposed partner institution will generally be determined by a combination of the nature of the collaboration and the level of risk associated with the partnership.  The Collaborations Group will choose between:
    • a full panel visit, or
    • an individual visit by a suitably qualified member of University staff with a degree of independence from the proposal (e.g. International Dean or a College International Lead)
Overall Risk  Type of Visit
 High A full panel visit
 Medium Either an individual visit by a suitably qualified member of University staff with a degree of independence from the proposal (e.g. International Dean or a College International Lead) or a full panel visit
 Low An individual visit by a suitably qualified member of University staff (e.g. International Dean or a College International Lead)
  • Where the overall risk is in the ‘medium’ category, any areas of concern in relation to confidence levels in completion of the risk assessment form will be highlighted to the Collaborations Group (ie low confidence) as will any factors that are considered high risk.  This information will be used by the Collaborations Group to determine whether an individual visit or full panel visit would be required.
  • If a full panel visit is deemed necessary, it shall comprise:
    • the Convener of the Academic Standards Committee (or nominee);
    • a senior member of academic staff from a School/Institute other than that or those involved in the proposed collaboration;
    • the Director of Senate Office (or nominee); and
    • an external academic member with, if possible, cultural expertise as well as academic expertise gained through experience of the relevant country.  
  • The panel or individual will prepare a report for the Collaborations Group in line with the template. The Collaborations Group will consider this report in conjunction with the submitted proposal and will reach a recommendation.   
  • If the Collaborations Group recommends that the proposal should not proceed, the judgement must be evidence-based and the Group should provide sufficient feedback to allow Schools to consider whether they wish to undertake further work to make the proposal viable.
  • Where the prospective partner is a UK higher education institution or is deemed to be a prestigious EU/overseas institution, the following principles will apply:
    • all Higher Education Institutions in the UK rated with “confidence” (or equivalent) for quality and standards through the Quality Assurance Agency’s Enhancement-Led Institutional Review (ELIR), Institutional Audit or Institutional Review processes (as appropriate) are automatically approved as partner institutions.
    • where the proposal is for collaboration with a prestigious EU/overseas institution, as informed by information on quality, reputation and ranking provided by the Recruitment and International Office, responsibility for approval to collaborate with that institution is delegated to the Collaborations Group.

Education Policy & Strategy Committee (EdPSC) or Research Planning & Strategy Committee (RPSC)

  • If the Collaborations Group recommends that the proposal should proceed, it will be forwarded to the next available meeting of the EdPSC or RPSC in the case of research degrees (five meetings per session).
  • Where EdPSC or RPSC do not support the proposal, the Academic Collaborations Office will provide feedback to the College who will revisit the proposal as appropriate. 


  • If EdPSC or RPSC recommends that the proposal should proceed it will be forwarded to the next available meeting of Senate (also five meetings per session).
  • If there is a significant time gap before a proposal can be considered by one of the above committees then alternative arrangements for consulting committee members will be considered.  This is to ensure that the approval process is robust but does not unnecessarily hinder the progress of the proposal.


  • In some circumstances, the approval of the University Court may also be required (e.g. where there are particular HR, financial or legal implications for the University). This is likely with overseas delivery. 
  • If this is the case, the business plan will likely need the approval of the Finance Committee prior to the approval of Senate and Court. The Director of Finance will decide if the approval of the Finance Committee approval is required.  Your College Head of Finance should, as a matter of course, liaise with the Director of Finance in the initial stages of any proposal and he should be alerted to any concerns as at early stage.
  • The Finance Committee approval process can be undertaken in parallel with EdPSC/RPSC approval.  Your Head of Finance can provide more advice on this.

Key requirements

The following documentation is normally required for the approval of a proposal for a new collaborative partnership:

Collaboration Proposal Form 

This requires summary information on the proposal; the academic, strategic and resource issues, including the business case and rationale; the lead academic in the School who will manage the collaboration arrangement and planned timescales.

Due Diligence Checks

Depending on the complexity of the proposal, a number of due diligence checks should be undertaken prior to committing to a collaborative arrangement.  These are outlined in more detail in the Due Diligence Checklist [work in progress]. A copy of this should be included with your proposal form.

Business Case

Proposals should be accompanied by a sound business case and costing model. More information on this can be found here.

The Guidance Notes for the completion of the Collaboration Proposal Form provide examples of the costs to include in your business case. Not all of the costs listed will apply to each type of collaboration.

Risk Assessment

As part of the development of your proposal you should complete a risk assessment form and a risk register. These should be included with your proposal form. More information can be found here.

Any Other Relevant Supporting Information

This may include information relating to other collaborations that the proposed partner has been involved with (ongoing or formerly). If relevant, it is helpful to try to establish why an arrangement was terminated, although this may be difficult to ascertain.

Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body Accreditation

Relevant professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs), which have approved or recognised a programme that is subject to a possible or actual partnership arrangement, must be kept informed of proposals and of the final agreement.  Proposals for new programmes must include a timetable for accreditation and roles and responsibilities with respect to securing professional recognition clearly defined within the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA)‌.

The Agreement

A collaborative arrangement will normally be covered by a Memorandum of Understanding or Memorandum of Agreement.  These are the standard terms used within the University but other terms may also be used at the request of a partner (e.g., Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC)). 

The Memorandum will specify the nature of the relationship, the responsibilities of each party and the timeframe for its operation.  The maximum initial period is normally five intakes and should include an opportunity for review and for termination. However, it is also possible to limit an initial agreement to three intakes to allow you go gain experience for example of the quality of the students, and of the partner and its ability and willingness to change, if required.

Memoranda may only be signed by specific senior officers of the University. Staff of the University should not sign any agreements with proposed collaborative partners unless they have the authority to do so.

More information on the types of agreements and how to establish them can be found here.