Study Abroad Policy (Outbound)
Swansea University seeks to develop and maintain exciting strategic and global student exchange arrangements which will enable its students to broaden their horizons and enhance the student experience both through mobility, pursuing study overseas and through interaction with high profile international institutions and staff.
Study abroad affords students the opportunity to undertake a credit-bearing placement at a partner institution under the terms of an agreed exchange agreement. Students on exchange programmes are registered both at Swansea University and their host institution during the exchange period.
Engagement with student exchange activity is based upon the following core principles:
i. All study abroad arrangements will offer a student experience that is commensurate in terms of quality with that of Swansea University.
ii. Swansea University will commit an appropriate level of resources to managing, overseeing and supporting student exchange activity, to support the University’s strategic goal of developing highly employable global graduates.
iii. There will be alignment between the exchange partner and the strategic priorities and values of the University/Faculty/School.
iv. All international exchange partners will be of suitable calibre, taking account of reputation and World Ranking Status.
v. All student exchange arrangements will meet the quality and standards set by the University’s approval processes and the QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
vi. Swansea University will ensure learning outcomes for student exchange activities are clearly articulated, and that opportunities are of sufficient length and quality to ensure outcomes can be met. The University will ensure mechanisms are in place to provide students with alternative opportunities to meet learning outcomes in the event that a student exchange experience cannot be completed.
vii. Swansea University shall maintain responsibility for the degree awarded in its name. The University will ensure that the individual and collective responsibilities of students, staff and providers are clearly defined and communicated.
viii. Swansea University will implement effective governance arrangements for student exchange activity at an institutional and local level. Where students are dissatisfied with their student experience, the University has appropriate mechanisms in place to receive and respond to complaints.
ix. Swansea University will ensure that all student exchange partnerships are evaluated prior to students engaging with the experience and on an ongoing basis thereafter.
x. Swansea University will ensure that students are able to undertake student exchange activities in accordance with local jurisdiction as well as Swansea University regulations, policies and procedures. The University will ensure that the requirements of relevant bodies, including PSRBs, are adhered to in relation to the arrangements for student exchange.
xi. Swansea University will ensure that there are robust procedures in place to protect the student experience in the event that it becomes necessary to withdraw a student(s) from a partner university.
xii. Swansea University will adopt a proportionate approach to safeguarding student exchange activities and, so far as is reasonably practicable, enact its duty of care for all students undertaking student exchange opportunities.
xiii. Swansea University’s Collaborative Partnerships Board will maintain ultimate oversight of the academic experience and standards at partner universities
3. APPROVAL OF NEW STUDENT EXCHANGE ARRANGEMENTS
Student exchange arrangements involves the establishment of an institutional exchange agreement or a subject-specific exchange arrangement – an agreement must always be in place prior to mobility. The International Development Office is responsible for the strategic development of student exchange arrangements and subsequent referral of proposed new exchange arrangements for approval.
In order for a new student exchange arrangement to be approved for a specific subject area, approval for a mobility period within the relevant degree programme must already be in place.
There are two stages for the approval of new student exchange arrangements:
i. Academic Approval
ii. Due Diligence Process
Academic Approval: The academic approval process will involve the consideration and approval of the academic case by the Faculty/School Learning and Teaching Committee (or Faculty/School Postgraduate Research Committee, should the exchange be at postgraduate research level). In order for credit transfer to take place, academic approval must be in place for the specific subject area of the partner university. For University-wide new exchange agreements, there should be indication of support from Faculties/Schools.
The academic case will include consideration of the:
i. appropriateness of the intended programme of learning at the partner university;
ii. availability of relevant modules;
iii. equivalency of learning outcomes;
iv. teaching, research resources (if appropriate), support and facilities at the partner university;
v. level of studies and equivalency to Swansea University;
vi. assessment practices and quality assurance processes to demonstrate equivalence of standards with Swansea University.
Due Diligence: The due diligence process involves the consideration and approval of the student exchange proposal by the Collaborative Partnerships Board, facilitated by the International Development Office and Academic Quality Services.
The University, as part of its obligations under the UK Quality Code, Advice and Guidance: Partnerships, is required to ensure that appropriate and proportionate risk assessment and due diligence enquiries are carried out on all new proposed partnerships arrangements.
A risk-based approach is taken by Swansea University in all cases, with due diligence enquiries being a collaborative effort between all interested parties with oversight by Academic Quality Services. There will always be some measure of due diligence enquiries, regardless of the reputation of the partner. This is in line with QAA guidance.
Due diligence will include consideration of the following:
i. Academic and professional standing of the institution;
ii. Legal status and capacity of the institution to enter into a student exchange partnership;
iii. Financial status and stability of the institution;
iv. Higher education structures of the country;
v. The political, ethical and cultural context;
vi. The experience of the prospective partner in hosting and teaching international exchange students from other countries;
vii. The language of teaching and assessment (and appropriate language support facilities if teaching is not in English);
viii. A risk assessment is carried out by Faculties/Schools/Academic Quality Services on all proposals to assess the level of risk associated with the proposed partner organisation and partnership arrangements;
ix. A site visit would usually be made to any potential partner before the University would send students on outward mobility programmes in order to maintain the University’s Duty of Care to its students.
4. CREDIT TRANSFER AND RECOGNITION
All student exchange arrangements that form an integral and recognised part of the degree programme will require the transfer of credits from the host university to Swansea University. Students are informed of the mark assigned to their studies by the home Faculty/School. This mark will be included in the degree classification conventions and might influence students’ degree classification. The rules governing the awarding of a degree for students studying a programme which includes a period of mobility are included in programme regulations and assessment regulations. Regulations governing student mobility and progression can be found here: https://myuni.swansea.ac.uk/academic-life/academic-regulations/taught-guidance/essential-info-taught-students/mobility-opportunities/
A credit transfer process provides a fair and transparent system of transferring credits and grades from one institution to another in order to capture the equivalent grade/academic performance within the home University grading scale.
The relevant Faculty/School Learning and Teaching Committee has overall responsibility for approving grades and credit transfer.
Directors of Learning and Teaching should appoint an Academic Coordinator to be responsible for the operation of credit and grade transfer for programmes within subject areas.
Before the start of the mobility period, an individual programme of study should be agreed with each student and formalised within a Learning Agreement. The Learning Agreement acts as a ‘credit transfer promise’ and offers a guarantee that the credits specified within the Learning Agreement are appropriate, have been approved and will be transferred back to their degree at Swansea University. In addition, a learning/training plan for each student sets out the overall requirements.
Should a student wish to make changes to the approved Learning Agreement, this should be done within four weeks of the start of their placement and all changes must be approved by the Academic Coordinator.
Departments should ensure that before commencement of their study overseas, students fully understand their study obligations and how the grades obtained overseas will be integrated into the degree programme. This is covered in the Faculty/School departmental preparation meetings and in the year / semester abroad handbook, and partly with the learning plan.
5. MONITORING, EVALUATION AND REVIEW
As part of the monitoring process:
i. The Academic Coordinator will work with the International Development Office to ensure that students receive the necessary information in advance of their placement and is responsible for ensuring that contact with students is maintained during their placement.
ii. The International Development Office will provide an annual report on student exchange activity to the Collaborative Partnerships Board.
iii. Feedback from students is shared with Faculties/Schools and contributes to both the annual review report and the more formal review which is conducted prior to renewal of a contract.
iv. Feedback for the annual report and formal review will include information on the partner, support received from the Faculty/School and support given by the International Development Office’s Go Global team.
v. In exceptional circumstances the University will take whatever measures are necessary to maintain the health, welfare and wider experience of the student.
6. RENEWAL OF AGREEMENTS
i. For subject specific agreements, the International Development Office asks the Faculty/School whether they want to renew the agreement. If Faculties/Schools wish to renew, the International Development Office proceeds to do so. However, the International Development Office would highlight agreements that haven’t been used and suggest closing them.
ii. For University wide agreements, the Go Global team in the International Development Office decides whether to renew or not, without consulting Faculties/Schools, based on demand for the exchange. Feedback from students informs this decision. This is done via the Collaborative Partnerships Board, based on a list provided by the International Development Office of agreements due to expire. The Collaborative Partnerships Board formally asks Faculties/Schools for a response on whether to renew or not and this will be recorded in the Board’s minutes. Formal reviews, annual report forms and breaches of contract inform this decision. The International Development Office will then renew based on this information from the Board.
iii. Where the decision is made to renew/terminate an agreement, the International Development Office manages said renewal/termination.