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The University collaborates with a variety of third parties to widen access and participation in higher education.  Partnerships types can be summarised as:

  • Validation - Partner institutions devise, teach and examine their own curriculum under regulations and processes set and monitored by the OU
  • Collaborative Curriculum (Curriculum Partnerships) - Involvement by partners in the origination and/or assessment of specific modules contributing to Open University qualifications
  • Collaborative Presentation (Curriculum Partnerships) - Partner involvement in the provision of certain aspects of the delivery, support or assessment of students directly registered with the OU on Open University originated modules leading to the award of Open University credit or qualifications  
  • Collaborative Research degrees - Research degree supervision and support provided by Open University partners (which includes Affiliated Research centres; industrial research partnerships; Doctoral Training Partnerships)

Quality assurance arrangements differ for each kind of partnership, as outlined below:


Validation is available to institutions through a partner relationship which requires institutions to demonstrate their ability to assure the quality of their provision. Any organisation offering programmes of study at higher education level (FHEQ Levels 4 - 7) may seek to become approved by the OU and offer programmes leading to its validated awards.  Validation is managed by Open University Validation Partnerships (OUVP). There are separate quality assurance processes for validated provision that are outlined in the OU Handbook for Validated Awards (pdf 1.3mb).

Curriculum Partnerships

Curriculum partnerships are developed and managed in faculties, supported by teams in the nation offices where appropriate. Modules and qualifications delivered through curriculum partnerships are subject to standard OU quality assurance processes.  The central management and oversight of curriculum partnerships, including the maintenance of a register for collaborative provision, is undertaken by OUVP through its Curriculum Partnerships Advisory Group (CPAG). 

The overall authority for approving and reviewing validated partner institutions, approving curriculum partnerships, and the approval (validation) and re-approval (revalidation) of validated programmes rests with Senate and is exercised through the Curriculum Partnerships Committee (CuPC).

Collaborative Research degrees

The University’s Research partnership types include cotutelle agreements, doctoral training partnerships and industrial partnerships. The primary programme of research degree partnership is through the Affiliated Research Centre (ARCs) programme. There are separate approval, monitoring and review processes for ARCs that are managed by the Research Degrees team.

Articulation agreements

Articulation Agreements are owned and managed by the Recognition of Prior Learning team.  All agreements are approved at faculty Academic Committees (Learning, Teaching and Assessment) and CuPC at institutional level.  Processes for monitoring and review are currently under development.