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, 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
Alignment with University strategy
The operating strategy 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
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
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
Our Partnerships Sub-Strategy (.pdf) 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 sub-strategy 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.