Student protection plan

Policy and Procedures for Changes, Suspension or Closure of Programmes
  1. Introduction
  2. 1.1. These processes articulate the University’s procedures for applicants and students. It sets out the University’s procedures for changing, suspending or closing programmes. It is aligned to the Statement of Good Practice adopted by HEFCE, UUK, GuildHE and NUS.

    1.2. The interests of the University’s students and the students of its partner providers are paramount and all efforts will be made to ensure they are able to complete the programme of study for which they are registered.

  3. Programme Changes Prior to Registration
  4. 2.1. The University may be required to make changes to programmes at the following times:

    • between publication in the prospectus and registration
    • after registration

    In the event of programme changes, suspension or closures, all communications with applicants will be authorised by the Academic Registrar or nominated authority.

    2.2. Where material changes are made to the structure or content of programmes (e.g. removal or addition of modules), these will be communicated to applicants as soon as possible to advise them of their right to choose another University programme or withdraw their application to seek entry to another institution.

    2.3. Where applicants have already accepted an offer, advice and guidance will be provided by the University to help them make an informed decision about their options and possible course of action.

    2.4. Applicants who have accepted offers, or have been made offers but have not yet accepted them, should be informed and contacted as soon as any decisions regarding closure or suspension of programmes has been agreed.

    2.5. If a student reasonably believes that the material to their programme has adversely affected them, they may cancel their contract with the University. In such circumstances, the University will offer advice and guidance and where possible, facilitate a transfer to another institution which offers a programme for which they are suitably qualified.

  5. Protection for current students
  6. 3.1. Following the commencement of a programme and during the course of a student’s studies, the University may make minor changes to programmes to improve the quality; to meet the latest requirements of the accrediting body; or in response to feedback from staff, students or external examiners. Where such minor amendments to the delivery of a programme are necessary, the University will consult with and inform students and their representatives of these changes, as appropriate and in line with the University’s quality assurance procedures.

    3.2. Students should normally be allowed to complete the programme of study for which they are registered. Where the University proposes to close or suspend a programme of study, it will consult all registered students and seek their written consent to the proposal. Programmes will be closed or suspended only where all affected students have consented to the proposal.

    3.3. Where a programme is closed to new entrants only, the University will continue to protect the interests of students who are currently registered on the programme (including those who have intermitted).

    3.4. The University will provide the necessary information, advice and guidance to students to support students in deciding which options to follow.

    3.5. The standards of programmes and the quality of the student experience must be maintained throughout the period of registration. In particular, conditions must be maintained to ensure the achievement of all learning outcomes in the relevant programme specification.

    3.6. In the case of programme closure, UCAS should be notified once fully agreed.

  7. Planning
  8. 4.1. Given that the preparation of the printed prospectus takes place well in advance of the registration date for prospective students, the process of strategic planning should identify those programmes that may be in danger of closure or suspension and prevent their advertisement to potential applicants.

    4.2. As a result of unforeseen circumstances, it may from time to time prove necessary to close or suspend a programme within a foreshortened timescale (e.g. due to the loss of specialist staff, or the closure of a centre). In this case, communications should be undertaken with all affected students (prospective and current), and appropriate and timely advice and guidance given to enable them to make well-informed decisions.

    4.3. In order to ensure full compliance with the CMA legislation, students should be given the fullest information, advice and guidance to enable them to make well-informed decisions about their options for future study.

  9. Programme closure or suspension
  10. 5.1. The University or School may wish to close or remove a programme of study from its portfolio. The agreed closure of a programme (as per 3.2 above), whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level, means that the University will cease to recognise the programme as one for which a student may be registered.

    5.2. The suspension of any programme of study must be approved by the University as it will affect the contractual relationship between current and prospective students and the University.

    5.3. Any request to close or suspend a programme should be accompanied by the rationale for the change, plus include the following information:

    • Market rational
    • Strategic and financial implications
    • Impact, if any, on arrangements with partner institutions or schools (eg joint programmes)
    • Impact on current and prospective students
    • Impact on existing or proposed programmes
    • Impact on relationships with sponsors or employers
    • Impact on staff and resources

    5.4. Where there are any proposed changes to staff/staff structures, consultation with HR and any academic staff affected by the programme must be undertaken.

    5.5. The closure or suspension of a programme will be achieved within a defined timeframe, in ways that ensure that both students and staff interests are fully considered.

    5.6. If teaching-out is not possible and students are no longer able to complete their programme or achieve the intended learning outcomes, or where there is no suitable alternative at the institution acceptable to the student, the University will refund all or relevant part of the fees and record the amount of credit achieved to assist transfer to another institution.

    5.7 The University will take full responsibility for ensuring that student interests are protected and that any closure is completed in an orderly manner, to minimise the impact on both the institutional reputation and the English higher education sector.

  11. Partner Provision
  12. 6.1. For students registered on a programme of study leading to a University of Kent award that is delivered at a partner institution, it is the responsibility of the University as the awarding body to find suitable provision to enable students to complete their studies. Current students must be informed about their options to complete their programme of study and achieve learning outcomes, or transfer to another programme within the University or to another institution (where appropriate). The quality and standards of the academic provision and student experience must be safeguarded under any such arrangement.

    6.2. The University’s arrangements for managing its partner-based provision (from approval to withdrawal) are set out in its Collaborative Provision: Policies and Procedure, a document that specifies the terms for the withdrawal from partnerships and the termination of programmes of study.  The procedures are predicated on the principle of  ensuring that the protection of student interests in such arrangements is of paramount importance.

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