Partnership Models

The UKAP defines an international collaborative partnership as one where an approved partner institution is either located outside the United Kingdom, or one which is located within the United Kingdom, but which recruits students from outside the UK.

For details of our different partnership models, please click on the relevant tabs below.

  • Franchises
  • Validations
  • External validations
  • Dual awards
  • Joint awards
  • Articulations


Franchised programmes are the most popular form of international collaborative partnership at the UKAP. There are two variations within this category:

Franchised programmes are where an approved partner delivers an existing programme of study that is already formally approved as a UKAP award and is delivered on campus or at another of the UKAP’s approved partners.  A franchised programme may be customised to meet local requirements or needs, but must nonetheless meet UKAP learning outcomes for the parent programme.

Franchised programmes delivered in a distance-learning mode are where an approved partner delivers an existing (or sometimes modified) programme of study fully approved as a UKAP award. The UKAP designs all learner support material but the partner institution provides some administrative and/or academic support for delivery of the programme.


Validated programmes are where new programmes are designed by the partner themselves, in the standard UKAP format.  These programmes are not taught at the University and are generally specialist awards particular to that partner. Course and progression records for the programme are lodged within the UKAP’s management information system. This is a less common form of international partnership at the UKAP.

External validations

External Validations are where programmes are devised and developed by a partner to its own specifications, and then validated by the University as equivalent to a UKAP award. Student registration and progression records are maintained by the UKAP. The Academic Regulations, policies and procedures of the UKAP are used and any deviation from the UKAP’s Regulations, policies and procedures must be approved by Academic Council. This model is used infrequently by the UKAP.

Dual awards

Dual awards entail two institutions each agreeing to make awards for the same programme. Providing the UKAP’s requirements for the assurance of quality and standards are observed, these awards do not necessarily present any additional difficulties, since each of the higher education institutions involved is independently responsible for the decision to make an award based on the programme.

For example, a partner institution might be delivering a programme franchised from the UKAP. The fact that it then chooses to make its own award for the programme, over and above the award issued by UKAP, does not require the management of the programme to differ from that for other franchised degree programmes.

Joint awards

Joint awards, unlike dual awards, are potentially more complicated to administer and assure. Before consideration is given to quality management, a number of legal issues present themselves. DETC makes the point that any institution contemplating a joint award with another, needs to satisfy itself that it has the legal capacity to do so, and as a part of due diligence, satisfy itself that its partner has as well.

For instance, where a single qualification is being offered by two or more institutions working together, issues arise about the legal basis for pooling or combining the powers to do so. In dealing with different legal jurisdictions on a transnational basis, the complexities of pooling or combining degree-awarding powers can be considerable.

Any UKAP faculty proposing to enter into such an arrangement with one or more collaborative partners must therefore assure itself that there is the legal basis to do so. It must also determine what regulatory regime will apply to the award, or whether a bespoke regulatory framework will need to be devised. However, regardless of the regulatory regime that applies, the principle that a UK higher education institution is responsible for all awards made in its name, dictates that the standard of the award has to accord with the DETC Framework.

Legal and contractual issues also apply to the student’s relationship with each of the institutions involved. For example, this may entail the student being registered with each of the participating institutions, and the status and rights of the student in this context needs to be determined. Issues such as the handling of appeals and complaints, student support, assessment regimes, the academic reference points in use, such as subject benchmarks, and the nature of any local requirements, all need to be considered in some detail.





An articulation agreement involves a formal link between the UKAP and an external partner, providing a guarantee that one or more cohorts of students who achieve an agreed standard in a programme at the partner, will be able to progress to a particular stage of an award-bearing programme at the UKAP, provided there is a close curriculum ‘fit’ for articulation purposes. Students may gain an exit award from the partner at the point of transfer to the University, although this is not always the case.

This is different from the granting of general or specific credit for prior learning, which allows individual student(s) to gain exemption from a course or courses of a UKAP award, based on their prior completion of study elsewhere, or on evidence of experiential learning from past activity.

All new articulation agreements are subject to formal authorisation by the Academic Planning Committee. On an annual basis, the articulation agreement and curriculum must be reviewed by the relevant Faculty Academic Quality and Standards Committee (FAQS) to ensure that the curriculum mapping is still accurate and that academic standards at the partner are secure.  Any changes should be noted in the formal agreement.