Overseas Partnership Development Guidelines
This document outlines the strategy for the development of overseas teaching
partnerships and provides guidelines on the parameters for partnership
In April 2008 the first meeting of the Transnational Education Committee met and
discussed key issues around the development and implementation of the
strategy. The following document is the result of these discussions but is not
intended to be rigid or prescriptive. It is intended that it should be a working
document which can be added to, developed and updated over time.
Overall strategy
International Partnerships and Transnational Education activities should be
encouraged where they can make a positive contribution to the University’s
Internationalisation Strategy. While pursuing growth in subject spread, research
capacity and student numbers at our campuses in China and Malaysia, we should
continue to actively search for and develop other activities and partnerships
overseas which will enhance our international presence. Activities may include:
(i) Joint or double awards and progression agreements
(ii) Split site PhD’s
(iii) E-learning and in-country teaching
The University reaffirms in its internationalisation strategy that it does not and
will not pursue validation or franchise activity overseas.
Types of Links and Partner institutions
When selecting partner institutions reasonable steps should be taken to establish
the credibility and status of the institution. While ideally partnerships would be
with institutions of a similar status to our own (as evidenced for example by
status within their own country or ranking in international league tables), there
will be cases for working with institutions (including private institutions) which are
not research intensive and which may have a primary remit in the area of
teaching for reasons of, for example, quality of existing educational provision and
students, capacity development or because of strengths in particular areas.
What is important is that there is a clear rationale for the link and a strong
probability of the link being successful. The International Office can provide
advice to Schools.
The manner in which partnerships emerge should not be prescriptive. Some links
arise from top down initiatives, others (possibly the majority) from individual
academics. Some links will include several different activities and a Memorandum
of Understanding or Memorandum of Agreement may be institutional or refer to a
relationship with a single school or department. The balance of top down and
bottom up activities should not be of particular importance.
The International Office holds information about institutions or organisations it
already has links with and information will be made available on-line in the near
The development of links may not just be confined to overseas universities. Links
could be with:
Private or public companies/bodies
Other UK universities
Governments departments
In choosing partners the impact of the relationship across all of the University’s
campuses (UK, China and Malaysia) must be considered. Development of
partnerships in China and Malaysia should be discussed with the relevant
Provost/Vice-President. It is unlikely that TNE Committee would wish to approve
links that are in direct competition with current or planned activity at either of the
international campuses.
Examples of the type of links which might be developed include:
(i) Joint Degrees or dual degrees and progression agreements
These programmes could include 2+2 degrees where the first 2 years are spent
at an overseas institution and 2 years at any of our campuses.
Other examples could be a 1+3 degree where the first year is a stand-alone
foundation programme at an overseas institution.
Possible masters twinning agreements could include partnering with institutions
where a masters degree is taken over a 2-year period. Either year could be spent
at Nottingham enabling the student to be awarded a stand alone masters degree
from Nottingham and then for the student to count this as APL towards their 2year programme at the overseas institution.
(ii) Split site PhD’s
New schemes are being developed to enable students to register on a research
degree at two separate institutions eg:
Scheme 1: Academic Partner PhD
This scheme is particularly aimed at partner academic institutions that want to
up-skill their academic staff by investing in doctoral education. Students will
register on a University of Nottingham PhD programme but most or all of their
time will be spent at their overseas institution.
The Programme
The student will be registered at the UoN for their entire PhD.
The scheme is for full time students only, when they are physically present
in Nottingham
A UoN based supervisor will be the primary supervisor and will have
overall responsibility for the academic programme
A local supervisor or mentor could be appointed to provide pastoral care,
arrange access to facilities and academic expertise if appropriate
Students will be charged 75% of the UoN fee across all 3 years
When the student is at their base institution, supervision will be conducted
by video conferencing and contact maintained by email and
On-line modules in teaching and learning in addition to on-line Graduate
Training Scheme modules will be part of the package
The maximum amount of time a student can spend at the UoN will be 1.5
Scheme 2: International PhD Programme at the University of Nottingham
The international PhD programme involves a link between two prestigious
academic institutions to attract the best postgraduate researchers. Students will
be awarded two PhD’s from two institutions.
For supervisors, this would provide an opportunity to strength and deepen
existing research collaborations and increase the number of cross-cultural and
cross-disciplinary research groups.
For students the programme would enable them to both access additional
resources and give them international experience.
The Programme
Supervisors will be assigned at both locations
Students will be registered full time at each institution
The student will spend their study time between the two locations with the
amount of time at each determined by their project, but with no more
than two years spent at either institution
Each institution will charge its fees at 50% of its normal rate for each year
Supervision will be conducted by video conferencing and contact
maintained by email and teleconferencing
The scheme will be marketed to academics
On-line Graduate Training Scheme modules will be available for students
who register at the overseas institutions in their first year
The Inter-Campus PhD Scheme is aimed at encouraging joint supervision of
PhD students across University of Nottingham campuses in the UK, China or
Malaysia. In the case of the China campus, students need to be registered at the
UK campus until UNNC has been awarded a PhD licence.
(iii) E-learning and in-country teaching
Advances are now making it possible to use a variety of different technologies to
deliver courses using the internet, interactive video conference facilities and
WebCT. There are examples within the University where courses are being
delivered using a mix of teaching modes or “blended learning”. The E-learning
team can provide more information.
Documents and Processes to Support TNE
The Memorandum of Understanding is a document that is used when commencing
discussions with partners. This is not a formal agreement but it symbolises that
the universities intend to work together. The International database will record
the agreements for the information of other university staff.
MoU’s are signed by the Pro-Vice Chancellor International on the recommendation
of the Director of the International Office.
The Memorandum of Association, again, normally signed by the PVC for
internationalisation if it concerns a teaching partnership, is the main, detailed
contractual document which outlines the rights and responsibilities of the
institutions involved with the TNE activity. This must be used for all TNE activities
and all should be formally approved by the MoA Approval Committee.
In addition to this there is also a MoA Coversheet that provides a one page
summary of the MoA.
More information and templates for the documents can be found at
A business case should also be developed early on ensuring that net financial
benefits of the link are achievable within a realistic period.
For advice on business cases Schools should seek assistance from the School
Financial Advisor.
Geographical areas for Partnership Development
The University will prioritise and possibly pump-prime activities in India and the
Middle East (for the UK campus) where opportunities exist. However, this does
not preclude activities anywhere else in the world. It may also be beneficial to
schools to choose to develop partnerships in countries where active international
student recruitment is taking place or where research relationships already exist.
Regular visits by international office staff will provide additional support “on the
Because of the availability of funding to support the development of links, Europe
could also be a potential area for TNE activities.
Some key questions for Schools to consider when considering geographical
locations include.
Is there evidence that there is a market for our courses?
Can students in the country afford a UK education?
Are there sound academic reasons for such a link in the particular country?
How easy is it to do business in the country and how easy is it to travel
5. Are there any moral or ethical issues which may need to be considered?
6. Does the proposal fit with other strategic activities?
Again, the International Office can provide advice.
International Office Support
The International Office will further support the development of links and provide
the following services to support Schools.
Providing best practice documents and examples of successful links
Help with market research
Help with managing existing links in the set up phase and the initial period
of operation
Finding partners, sourcing opportunities
Responding to incoming partnership development opportunities
Pump priming through scholarships
Admin Support in putting together MoA’s and implementation plans
Liaison with the partners
Help with promotion of links
Development of a web site with helpful information
Yearly Best Practice Seminars and other face to face dissemination
Inviting outside speakers and arranging conferences on TNE (such as the
Observatory conference in 2009 at the Malaysia campus)
Targets and Milestones
It is expected that the numbers of students entering the university through
partnership agreements will increase by at least 70% over the next 3 years.

PAPER ONE - University of Nottingham