Become an Approved Learning Partner

Heriot-Watt University offers distance and distributed learning programmes of the highest standard and quality in a range of subjects through our international network of Approved Learning Partners (ALPs).

The policy for maintaining these high standards rests on good practice within the University and our Approved Learning Partners (ALPs).
To meet conditions of approval, the University needs to be assured that the student support meets requirements relating to quality and standards and that correct procedures are followed.

What are the benefits of being an ALP?

There are many advantages for institutions in becoming an ALP of the External Programmes. These include:

  • Building and developing relationships with Heriot-Watt University and our international and global community.
  • Competitive advantage of offering a reputable UK degree through local delivery.
  • Increased student numbers by offering a sustainable progression route from existing courses.
  • Flexibility of delivery: you choose how to structure the teaching of the programme.
  • Provision of high quality learning materials and rigorous Heriot-Watt University examination processes.
  • Support of a dedicated administrative support team with an individual contact point for each ALP.

Who can become an ALP?

An ALP is not one particular type of educational institution. An ALP may be a University, a College, or a department in a recognised institution. They can be from the public, private or a professional sector.
Prospective partners should ideally have:

  • a proven track record of delivering courses in business disciplines to at least Diploma level
  • prior experience or knowledge of further or higher education in a westernised education system (for example, UK, Europe, US, Australia)
  • the ability to recruit viable numbers of students to the programme on an annual basis, and to demonstrate a business plan to grow these numbers
  • the ability to recruit a high level of academically trained staff with qualifications and experience in teaching relevant subject areas
  • a detailed and forward looking business plan, evidence of financial viability and ability to demonstrate the quality standards of the institution

What are ALPs responsible for?

For most students all direct personal contact will normally be with staff at their local institution and so it is vital that Heriot-Watt University and the Approved Learning Partner work together to ensure students enjoy a positive learning experience whilst studying on the External Programmes.
In general, the ALP is responsible for all non-academic matters related to the programme, and Heriot-Watt University is responsible for all academic matters:

ALP venn diagram of responsibilities

How are ALPs approved?

We can only approve partners who:

  • fit with the External Programmes approach to course delivery
  • present a convincing business proposal
  • operate within the local regulatory environment
  • can deliver academic and welfare support to a high standard

Please note that to avoid unnecessary competition between providers and confusion for students it is our normal policy not to appoint multiple partners in the same region. 

The application and approval process involve two stages: negotiation and approval.


During the negotiation stage the External Programmes team liaises with the prospective partner to gather information about the institution and to answer any queries about the delivery of the programmes. This stage may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • a due diligence check
  • a business proposal
  • information on local regulations and approvals
  • evidence that appropriate academic support can be provided
  • face-to-face meetings, normally involving at least one visit from HWU staff to the institution


Following the negotiation period, the partner and the School of Management & Languages will finalise a standard Approved Learning Partner Agreement, which is a legally binding contract.

The Agreement and supporting documentation will then be submitted to the University Approvals team for consideration.

Apply to become an ALP

All institutions interested in becoming an Approved Learning Partner should first of all complete and submit the ALP application form.

We will reply to all applications we receive.

Key information