OERu/Planning/Curriculum and programme of study/Programme design parameters for 1st year exit award candidates

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  1. To select two flexible exit awards for the 1st year of study that can be conferred at the host institution.
  2. Research the institutional requirements and related policies for the indentified awards.
  3. Design, assemble and approve a programme of study taking the following into account:
    • local policy requirements for the award;
    • the unique international nature of the OERu with regards to credit transfer;
    • optimising opportunities for getting product to market during 2016.


  1. Courses nominated for inclusion must be available for transcript credit at a minimum of one OERu partner where the summative assessment services are offered.
  2. During the minimum viable product (MVP) phase, the aim is to keep the number of exit awards to a minimum so as to simplify the credit transfer challenges.

OERu point conversion table

Equivalent OERu points Notional learning hours NZ / UK Credits North American Credits
Basic unit 1 point 10 hours 1 Credits 0.25 Credits
Half year 60 points 600 hours 60 Credits 15 Credits
Full year 120 points 1200 hours 120 Credits 30 Credits

Comparative qualification framework levels

This is a first-year bachelor degree level credential. It compares with the following levels of national qualification frameworks.

QF level COL TQF New Zealand
England, Wales & N. Ireland
First year of degree study Level 5[1] Level 5[2] Level 7[3] Level 5[4] Level 4[5]

Related documents

This design specification should be read in conjunction with:

  1. Programme specification for the OERu 1st year of study
  2. OERu Credit transfer and course articulation guidelines

Award candidates

Certificate in General Studies - TRU Open Learning

  1. Program Description
  2. Open admission (No requirement for specific grade point average or secondary school transcripts)
  3. Credit requirements
    • 120 points (typically 10 courses of 12 points each)
    • Residency requirement: 24 points (i.e. two courses of 12 points each)
  4. Restrictions: Courses in education, business and administrative studies require prior review
  5. Availability: Qualification operational: TRU has completed two OERu courses, which can meet the residency requirement.

Design implications and questions

  1. Clarify whether the award can recognises transfer credits rather than courses. (In other words can credits be transferred in multiples of 4 points - i.e. 1 North American credit.)
  2. Note that any OERu course nomination in Education, Business or Administration studies will require prior approval and signature of corresponding articulation agreement between the respective partners.
  3. Clarify if there if there is an English language proficiency requirement for admission.

Certificate in Higher Education (CertHE) - UHI

  1. Framework for curriculum development
  2. Recognised award on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and Regulated Qualifications Framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  3. Admission: IELTS score requirement for students whose first language is not English (see below).
  4. Credit requirements:
    • 120 points
    • Assembled from 6 X 20 credit "modules"
    • UHI Residency requirement of 60 points (locally assessed credits)
    • Availability - Credential on the books. However, each programme requires to be approved separately through the normal QA process, so ‘framework development’ is needed.

Design implications and questions

Key challenges for framework development: Smaller course sizes in North America and other partner countries compared with UHI standard 20 credit "modules". Possible solutions micro-course format combined with block credit transfer and / or collaborative provision.

Possible solution: The UHI collaborative provision regulations provide policy protocols and procedures to address the OERu articulation challenges through defined articulation agreements using external validation and/or dual (multiple) awards. The credit transfer guidelines approved by the OERu Council of CEOs are aligned with UHI's collaborative provision guidelines.

  1. Entry requirements are determined at the point of approval and included in the relevant programme documentation (see Admissions and enrolment standards).
    • Note that students whose first language is not English applying for programmes taught through the medium of English are required to have an overall IELTS score of 5.5 with no element below 5.0. (see Admissions and enrolment standards). Is the English language requirement applicable to assessment only students? Do prospective learners need a school leaving certificate? Is their an age exemption for older learners?
  2. Framework for curriculum development makes provision for core and optional courses. Optional courses must be specified in the programme document. One elective model (unspecified credit) per SCQF level can be taken instead of an optional module (see Framework for Curriculum Development. (Perhaps this is a vehicle for making up missing credits in relation to the differences between North American and Scottish Course sizes?)
  3. Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (Credit transfer) is available for previously assessed and certified learning (transcript credit) - but restricted to 60 credits for the CertHE
    • Possibilities to reduce residency requirement of 60 local points within existing UHI policy?
      1. Admission regulations specify the the "programme specification for a named award may allow entry with advanced standing to a particular stage of the programme" by process of course approval (see admission regulations p16.44). Could an OERu award be designed to fall under advanced placement where a "block of credits" can be transferred in as an agreed OERu award to achieve a lower residency requirement for credit transfer?
      2. UHI has an expressed intent to develop national and international partners where these are consistent with UHI's strategic objectives and quality standards, and where there is mutual benefit to the partners concerned (see Collaborative provision regulations). The OERu international partnership falls into this category and the network is founded on the principles of parity of esteem between OERu awards and standard awards at partner institutions. Whereas:
        • Collaborative provision is defined as "Educational provision leading to an award, or to specific credit toward an award, of an awarding institution delivered and/or supported and/or assessed through an arrangement with a partner organisation."
        • Joint delivery can include external validation where the university validates through its programme approval process a programme of study leading to an award designed, delivered and assessed by an approved external partner institution. (External validation may also be extended in due course to the award of university credit for short courses and in-house training provided by approved external partners.)
        • Joint delivery can include Dual (or multiple) awards: an arrangement whereby the university and one or more other awarding institutions together provide a programme leading to different awards at the same level made by each of the awarding institutions.
        • The definition of collaborative provision also extends to Articulation agreements with guaranteed direct entry to an award-bearing programme. The university approves all or part of an approved external partner’s award as providing specific credit towards a specified programme and guarantees entry with advanced standing to applicants who achieve a specified level of outcome on the external programme.

"Straw dog" framework development ideas

This "straw dog" brainstorm is listed to initiate discussion and refine ideas and thinking for developing a framework proposal:

  • Name: CertHE (University Studies) or CertHE (General Studies).
  • Intent / Target Audience: Liberal arts curriculum to assist learners to decide on the direction of study, as well as targeting mature learners aiming to complete their first degree.
  • Micro-course assembly: One UHI module to be assembled from 5 X 4 point micro-courses (40 notional learning hours). A Canadian course will be assembled from 3 X 4 point micro courses. An Australian course will require 4 X 4 point micro-courses The full CertHE will comprise 30 X 4 point micro-courses (120 points / 1200 notional learning hours.) Learners can only acquire transcript credit for completing the specified set of micro-courses for the module / course at the respective OERu partner. (Think of a micro-course as a subsection of a UHI module. The OERu needs a common standard currency (standard micro-course size) for articulation to work across international boundaries.
  • Broad curriculum framework: Still thinking about how the puzzle can fit together .... we need a few core skills related credits (Eg Academic and Professional Writing, Digital Literacy, Essential Mathematics, Study Management.) - the rest of the programme should come from discipline areas (eg Arts and Humanities, Business and IT and the Sciences.)

Reference links

  1. http://oasis.col.org/bitstream/handle/11599/501/TQF.pdf?sequence=4&isAllowed=y
  2. http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/studying-in-new-zealand/understand-nz-quals/
  3. http://www.scqf.org.uk/framework-diagram/Framework.htm
  4. http://www.aqf.edu.au/aqf/in-detail/aqf-levels/
  5. https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean/compare-different-qualification-levels