Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pop in on Your Partners and Check Their Accounts, Too

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pop in on Your Partners and Check Their Accounts, Too

Article excerpt

QAA rules on collaborations demand more from degree-awarding bodies. David Matthews reports.

Universities should regularly inspect their collaborative partners to check on their financial stability and legal status, according to beefed- up Quality Assurance Agency requirements.

The new guidance, which is out for consultation, places a greater responsibility on institutions to judge how risky a partnership is and how it fits into their broader strategy.

It comes nearly a year after the University of Wales pulled the plug on its validation business, which had 140 partners across 30 countries, in the wake of a series of controversies over its linked colleges.

There were 291,745 students studying for a UK degree overseas in 2010-11 who were not registered at a UK university, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

This is a 40 per cent rise on the previous year and a mark of the huge growth in the number of arrangements where overseas colleges award UK university degrees.

The draft QAA requirements say that degree-awarding bodies should "periodically" review collaborations to ensure that they are "achieving intended objectives, that partners are compatible, and to reassess the financial, legal, academic, ethical and reputational risks".

Due diligence on partners should be "refreshed periodically and also where circumstances change", for example when an arrangement is extended or the ownership of a partner changes.

Current guidance, released in 2010, recommends that institutions carry out due diligence on partners before they strike up agreements, but it does not say that they must conduct inspections afterwards.

The new advice comes after the University of Wales was found in 2011 by the QAA to have been "culpably credulous" when it failed to conduct thorough due diligence on the new owners of Turning Point Business School in Singapore. …

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