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                                             May 2011



       I       Introduction                                                                  2

       II      the process of credit-rating of external provision                            3


       A       Documentation for credit-rating proposals                                    7

       B       Letter of confirmation of credit-rating (exemplar)                           8

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                            Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.1
External credit-rating is the process by which the University makes a judgment about the volume and level
of academic credit which can be awarded for courses or training programmes offered by other institutions
or agencies. Students who successfully complete these courses are entitled to claim that amount of
academic credit through the process referred to as the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL). There is a
regulatory limit (normally 50%) on the extent to which such provision can contribute to an award of the

The credit tariffs for some long-established external courses are already recognized across the HE sector.
However, other less well-known providers may apply to the University for the External credit rating of their
provision. This credit-rating is undertaken by a School Credit-Rating Group/Committee which reports to
the School’s Learning and Quality Committee.

These external courses are awarded credit at a particular level on the national Framework for Higher
Education Qualifications (i.e. levels 4, 5, 6 or 7). When students register for one of the University’s awards,
they may be able to claim advanced standing on the basis of academic credit gained from successful
completion of an externally credit-rated course. This reduces the total number of credit points they need
to complete their University programme – they may granted ‘general’ credit towards a programme, or
‘specific’ credit giving them exemption from named courses within a programme. The amount actually
awarded to a student is always at the discretion of the relevant School, and normally the external credit
must have been gained no more than five years prior to registration on the University programme.

These Guidelines outline the University of Greenwich’s procedures for the formal credit-rating of external
provision, and explain how the University makes its judgement about the level and volume of credit which
can be allocated to such structured learning.

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                            Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.2

From the outset, a proposal for credit-rating of an external course must be linked to the School within the
University which has the most appropriate subject expertise. The process of credit-rating is normally
undertaken by a School Credit-rating Group that reports to the School’s Learning and Quality Committee.

1. Initial Contact
The initial approach might come from the external provider, which could be an employer, a professional
body, another educational institution, or some other external agency. Normally, a proposal would have
one or more of the following features:

       The course is generally available to clearly identifiable groups of students.

       The provider has a clear objective in wishing to gain a credit-rating from the University of

       There is a desire to establish a higher education norm for a professional body award, or an in-
        company training course or programme.

The nature of the initial contact will often be informal and exploratory, and as discussions develop, it will
be necessary to involve appropriate staff from the relevant School before formal proceedings begin. At
this point an individual or individuals from the School should be nominated to work with the client as the
University Adviser(s); this will usually involve subject expertise as well as experience in curriculum
development and credit-rating.

2. Development Work with University Adviser

The University Adviser works with the client to:

       brief the client on the nature, purpose and cost of credit-rating;

       explain or advise on the credit-rating procedure and required documentation;

       provide professional support in preparing the claim for credit;

       join the client as a team member to present the credit-rating claim to the appropriate University

3. Decision to Proceed
Following the initial contact and the external organisation should decide whether or not to proceed. In
some cases, the client may request assistance from the School with further developmental work, for which
charges will apply.

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                             Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.3
4. Credit-rating Fees
Fees vary with the subject area, the complexity of the proposal, the level of credit, the number of credit
points and the scale of interaction required by the School with the organization applying for the credit
rating. Staff from the relevant School will advise on the locally determined scale of fees.

Once the proposal has been considered, a formal letter from the School confirms the University’s decision
and the fee incurred (see Annex B).

5. Submission Documents
The University specifies the information about the activity which it expects the client to provide (see Annex
A). This documentation should be available for distribution at least three weeks before the date of the
credit-rating event. The appointed University Adviser works with the client in the preparation of the
submission documents, and the client will be advised on the number of copies required.

6. The Credit-rating Group

The proposal is considered by the School Credit-rating Group with membership as follows:

       Chair, approved by the appropriate School Learning and Quality Committee(s)

       Up to a maximum of six persons with knowledge and experience of the subject area and/or of
        credit-rating, including at least one representative from another School and external specialists
        where appropriate.

       A School Quality Officer from the host School(s), to record the proceedings.

7. Distribution of the Document
The School Quality Officer is responsible for receiving and distributing the document and associated papers
at least ten days before the date of the meeting. The supporting papers, prepared by the School Quality
Officer, should include a proposed timetable for the meeting and an indication of possible areas of debate,
and normally should invite preliminary comments which can be passed to the client organisation before
the meeting.

8. The Credit-rating Event
The exact structure of the meeting will be determined by the nature of the proposal. Normally it will

       a preliminary meeting of the Credit-rating Group
       a meeting with the client and appropriate supporting University Adviser
       a private meeting of the Group to agree the outcome
       A meeting with the client to communicate the outcome.

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                           Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.4
9. The Credit-rating Process
The Group judges the submission for credit against the University agreed criteria for levels and volume of
credit and may decide:

       to approve a particular level and volume of credit unconditionally, or subject to conditions; or

       to request additional information; or

       to reject the claim completely.

The Group will specify the form of words which should appear on the letter or certificate that the provider
issues to students who successfully complete the course (see para 13).

The Group will state the period or number of cohorts for which the credit-rating will apply (normally three
years maximum), and will confirm that the host School is responsible for the quality assurance of the
activity (see para 11).

The decision is final and the credit achieved will be recognised by the University, and considered for
general or for specific credit as appropriate.

10. Reporting
Within ten working days a summary report /minutes of the credit-rating meeting is prepared by the School
Quality Officer, approved by the Chair and members, sent to the client and to the School Learning and
Quality Committee. Where conditions are imposed, the Group and also the School Learning and Quality
Committee Group should be informed when these have been satisfactorily met.

The client is responsible for notifying the University of any Changes or variations to the programme which
has been credit-rated. If the changes are significant, another credit-rating exercise may be required.

11. Quality Assurance
As part of the documentation supporting any application for credit, there must be a clear indication of how
the client and the University will ensure that quality will be maintained. An appropriate member of
University staff should be appointed to moderate the students’ work, and for credit-rating at levels 5, 6, or
7, there should also be the appointment of an External Examiner approved by the University.
Each occurrence of the credit-rated course should be evaluated by the students using the University’s
Course Monitoring Report Form (QAH Appendix M2)

The client is responsible for maintaining accurate records of the number of students and appropriate
information on their progress and assessment outcomes.

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                            Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.5
12.     Review and Renewal

The client may return to the University for Review and re-evaluation of the credit-rating at any time within
the period of approval, or for review and renewal of the credit-rating at the end of the period of approval.
If the client decides not to undertake a review, then the credit-rating agreement will lapse at the end of
the period of approval.

13.     Certification
The University and the client must agree how information on completing students is to be recorded. The
client should be advised to write formally or send a certificate to each student confirming satisfactory
completion and the amount and volume of credit gained (Annex B, the letter to the client, includes a
paragraph advising on a standard form of words for the client to use when writing to students).

15.     Record Keeping
The relevant School must maintain a record of all credit-rated provision, showing details of the external
agency, title of the course or programme(s), volume and level of credit, date of credit-rating and period of

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                           Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.6

Preliminary details

(I)    Agency or institution making proposal

(ii)   Named contact with address, tell/fax etc.


1.     Institutional context (brief statement, including details of the overall programme if the proposal
        is part of a larger package)

2.     Title of course(s) for credit-rating

3.     Level of credit and number of credit points proposed

4.     Mode of delivery (full-time, part-time etc)

5.     Rationale for the course(s)

6.     Aims

7.     Learning outcomes (i.e. statement about what learners can do, know and understand as a result of
       successfully completing the course(s)

8.     Entry requirements/pre-requisites

9.     Indicative content

10.    Learning materials (books, videos, websites, other resources).

11.    Teaching and learning activities

12.    Assessment details (including arrangements for external moderation)

13.    Arrangements for management, evaluation and monitoring

14.    CVs for staff involved in the teaching (use the University’s pro-forma for collaborative activities)

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                            Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.7

Sample Letter (on University letter-heading)

Dear Colleague,
                                Agency/Institution ………………………………………………………………

                                Course Title …………………………………………………………………………

                                                Ref No ……………………………….

We are pleased to confirm that your recent submission for credit-rating of the above course has been successful,
and has been recognized as X points at Level Y by the Credit-Rating Committee of the School of

This credit-rating approval is valid for three years only, but may be renewed upon re-submission. A condition of
credit-rating approval is that you should inform us if, during this period, there are any significant changes to the
course as written.

All students who successfully complete the course as described and wish to progress to a programme of study at
this or another higher education institution, may claim recognition of this volume and level of academic credit,
quoting the above reference number. For our records, it would be helpful to have details of all these students, but
it is also important that you issue a letter or certificate of satisfactory completion which students can use as
documentary evidence of credit earned. Your letter/certificate should incorporate wording such as:

“This course has been given a credit-rating of X points at level Y by the University of Greenwich. Students who wish
to continue their studies can submit their credits to the University of Greenwich for advanced standing towards one
of its awards, or to any other higher education institution which recognises such credit.”

You will shortly receive from the University Finance Office an invoice for £........... which is a single payment in
respect of all students who may receive academic credit during the three year period.

We wish you well with student recruitment to this course, and we look forward to working with you.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely

U of Greenwich, May 2011                                          Guidelines for External Credit-Rating p.8

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