Our approach

The establishment of new academic partnership arrangements or link agreements, both in the UK and internationally, follows a set approval process and operating framework. Proposals for new partnerships or link agreements may originate from a range of sources. The nature of the proposed partnership activity may fall into one of several categories of activity.

A two-stage approval process applies to all new academic partnerships or link agreements, whatever their origin or type. All arrangements are entered into by our University at an institutional level and the process used provides a consistent approach for the approval of all types of link or partnership arrangement, whilst ensuring that it is proportionate to the type of arrangement under consideration.

Alignment with University strategy

The operating framework for the approval of new academic partnerships and link arrangements must align with the core mission of our University, being excellence in research and excellence in education, as set out in our Strategic Plan.

The following principles apply when departments or faculties are considering new academic partnerships or link arrangements.

  • The proposed partner or link institution should be a suitable institution for the University in terms of reputation and academic standing.
  • The sustained reputation of the University is the paramount consideration therefore, it is critical to identify fully all risks as well as benefits associated with the arrangement and the costs involved in managing the risks.
  • The time, commitment and costs needed to make an academic partnership or link arrangement successful, will vary according to the nature of the arrangement, but should not be underestimated. It is important to ensure that the necessary resources both within the academic department and the professional services are available. For new academic partnerships the resources need to be fully costed and available to support the initiative, both in the start-up phase and in the longer term. For link arrangements, the resources and costs may include for example, visits by academic staff or the International Office to the institution, or hosting a visit from the link institution at the University.
  • Small scale can be a significant indicator of risk; for academic partnerships it is neither strategic nor sustainable for the University to establish too many small-scale partnerships. However, link arrangements are often small, but can also present a risk therefore, it may be more sustainable if there are greater inter-institutional linkages and co-operation in a number of different areas, including the admission of students, student exchanges, teaching, research and other activities.

The University’s strategic framework for partnerships (.pdf, Essex users only) has been developed to guide decisions relating to partnerships and to ensure that all partnership activities are aligned with, and contribute to the University’s Strategic Plan and supporting Education Strategy and Research Strategy. The primary focus of the framework is collaborative partnerships leading to University of Essex awards delivered by or with a partner institution, but it is also intended to be of relevance to all forms of education and research partnership.

Guidance and support

The Partnerships team can provide advice, guidance and support on what to do if you are considering putting forward a proposal to form a new partnership. When a new academic partnership or link agreement has been approved, a legal contract or memorandum of understanding will be produced by the Partnerships team, who will also arrange for it to be signed by the appropriate senior member of staff at our University. All academic partnership contracts and link agreements contain a clause to allow for termination of the arrangement prior to the agreement or contract end date. If this is to be enacted, the Partnerships team should be contacted in the first instance.

Guidance notes