Franchising and validation

The concepts of franchising and validation are used to denote two types of partnership agreements between educational institutions that are not currently very common in Norway. They are very common in the UK, but also common elsewhere in the English-speaking world. We also see such agreements between institutions in other parts of the world. The distinction between franchising and validation can be unclear.

Franchising

Description: Institution A has an agreement with the Institution B, which entails that the latter awards degrees on behalf of the former. Institution A is responsible for the development of academic content and quality assurance of the degrees, but the students complete their studies at Institution B. Students receive a diploma from Institution A when they have successfully completed their studies.

Degrees obtained through franchising agreements are usually recognised by NOKUT, since they are the degree-conferring institution’s own courses and degrees. There must be a Code of Good Practice or other type of agreement that describes the rules that apply to the arrangement and the responsibilities of the parties.

Validation

Description: Institution A has an agreement with Institution B, which entails that Institution A approves (validates) the degree awarded by Institution B. The main difference from franchising is that, for a validation agreement, Institution B is responsible for the development of academic content and quality assurance of the degrees. Institution A lends its name to Institution B, and awards a diploma. Students thus receive a diploma from Institution A, even though Institution B is responsible for the development of academic content and quality assurance.

As a general rule, NOKUT does not accept validation across borders, because Institution B is not usually properly accredited by the country’s educational authorities. Institution B is either not accredited at all, or it has an accreditation which entails that it can offer education at a lower level than is the case for the degrees it offers in partnership with Institution A. For example, the institution is authorised to provide education at the vocational school level in its home country, while it offers a bachelor’s degree in partnership with Institution A. NOKUT does not give general recognition of validated degrees because validation implies a lower level of quality assurance than is the case for franchising agreements or for ordinary higher education.

The exception to the rule is when both institutions are located in the United Kingdom, and Institution B is a “Listed Body”, while Institution A is a “Recognised Body”, according to the lists compiled and published by the Department for Education (DfE). Degrees granted through such agreements are generally recognised by NOKUT.