View Current

Academic Quality Assurance Policy - Annexure - Third Party Education Provider Agreement Procedures

This is the current version of this document. To view historic versions, click the link in the document's navigation bar.

Section 1 - Overview and Scope

(1) These procedures support the Academic Quality Assurance Policy, and the Commercial Activities Rule as they relate to principles and processes which are to underpin delivery, administration or support of the University educational programs via third party providers.

(2) A third party education arrangement is:

  1. An arrangement made by UNE with another party (in Australia or overseas) to deliver some or all of a UNE course that leads to the award of a UNE higher education qualification; or
  2. A double degree arrangement where students complete the first component of their qualification at an overseas institution and, if successful, completes their studies at UNE, and is granted a qualification from both institutions.

(3) Individual Advanced Standing (Articulation) arrangements are not formal third‐party arrangements, and follow the Admission, Credit and Enrolment Policy. For clarity, for individual Advanced Standing Arrangements where an agreement is put in place for a specific student cohort, the approval workflow for the proposed arrangement prior to the signing of the agreement is:

  1. Endorsement by Curriculum Committee
  2. Approval by Academic Board.

(4) Other arrangements, such as for learning or study spaces, academic support services, professional development for UNE staff, and delivery of UNE content into other institution’s offerings are governed under the Commercial Activities Rule

(5) These procedures apply to all UNE Courses and research training delivered, administered or supported by third party providers, wholly or in part, whether in Australia or overseas, and all UNE Representative and students involved in those arrangements.

(6) This procedures do not apply to student placements, internships, non AQF short form learning, and work integrated learning activities arranged and administered by the University, that do not involve a third party (other than a student) organising these. Refer to relevant procedure for information about these activities (Work Integrated Learning Rule, Intensive School Procedures).

(7) Within these procedures:

  1. Part A describes the principle that guides the application of these procedures;
  2. Part B defines the endorsement and approval process;
  3. Part C defines the content of the endorsement and approval process requirements;
  4. Part D defines the management of the operation and outcomes of the agreement;
  5. Part E defines the performance reporting process requirements;
  6. Part F defines the issue management process requirements;
  7. Part G defines the renewal and amendments of contracts.

Part A - Principles

(8) Delivery, administration and support via third party providers is underpinned by the following principles:

  1. UNE enters into a third party arrangement where the partner and arrangement outcomes align with UNE’s vision, values and strategic priorities, the arrangement aligns with the UNE brand; and the arrangement aligns with or complements UNE’s strategic course profile;
  2. Students enrolled in University courses and units are UNE students and receive a comparable quality of education whether their learning experience is with the University directly, or under an educational arrangement with one of the University's third party providers;
  3. UNE bears ultimate responsibility for the quality of its courses and units, the student experience, and compliance with all relevant Australian legislative, regulatory, and government standards;
  4. For arrangements entered into from the effective date of these procedures, UNE bears responsibility for the collection of funds from students and the distribution of these funds to relevant parties;
  5. UNE courses delivered through third party providers apply academic standards and lead to learning outcomes which are equivalent to those of courses and programs delivered directly by the University;
  6. All third party agreement proposals must progress via Academic Governance Approval, and receive final approval by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer. The agreement is executed between UNE and the third party provider prior to the third party delivering or administering any educational program;
  7. Once an agreement come into effect, each agreement is managed by an Agreement owner who is responsible for monitoring and reporting on agreement outcomes in compliance with the Commercial Activities Rule and the Academic Quality Assurance Policy;
  8. All decisions and actions relating to a third party agreement are compliant with the Conflicts of Interests Policy
  9. All documentation relating to an executed agreement will is kept according to the Records Management Rule. All documents for each agreement are retained within one container in the Records Management System (RMS), specifically set up for the agreement and the contract is housed in the Contract Management System; and
  10. In assessing dual degree arrangements as a part of third‐party arrangements that result in Advanced Standing, UNE assures that advanced standing granted is consistent with the requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and internal policy.

Part B - Endorsement and Approval Process

(9) An executed proposal required the following three steps be completed:

  1. Due Diligence and Business Case Endorsement
  2. Academic Governance
  3. Agreement Drafting and Execution.

Due Diligence and Business Case Endorsement

(10) A proposal for the establishment of a third party arrangement is made by a Head of School to a Executive Dean, and once endorsed by the Executive Dean, the below endorsement and approval workflows should be followed.

(11) Proposals are endorsed by following the New Courses Workflow “Part A – Initial Proposal” under the Course and Unit Design and Approval Gudielines, and are additionally subject to endorsement from the following authorities defined in Table 1:

 Table 1: Due Diligence and Business Case Endorsement

Position Endorsement Responsibility
Education Quality Directorate Review and guidance on proposal from an Education Quality perspective
Finance Financial viability
Brand Partnership and Business Development Admission, brand and marketing alignment
Executive Leadership Team Review for endorsement

Academic Governance

(12) Academic Governance is progressed in accordance with the New Courses Workflow Part B – full proposal under the Course and Unit Design and Approval Policy which requires Curriculum Committee and Academic Board endorsement, and also includes approval by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer.

Agreement Drafting and Execution Stage

(13)  UNE only enters into negotiations for an agreement with a third party provider once the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer has approved the proposal from the due diligence and business case. The draft agreement using the UNE Undergraduate Teaching Template (where appropriate) must be reviewed by Education Quality Directorate and Legal Services to ensure appropriate input from a quality assurance and legal perspective.

(14) Agreements are not executed until Academic Governance has been completed and the contract content is reviewed and endorsed by Education Quality Directorate Directorate and Academic Board Standing Committee (for the quality assurance aspects) and Legal Services.

Table 3: Agreement Drafting and execution Responsibilities

Position Endorsement Responsibility
Education Quality Directorate Review all documentation for quality assurance
Academic Board Standing Committee Note Education Quality Directorate quality assurance review
Legal Services
Reviews the agreement and provides advice from a legal perspective
Execute contract
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Executed contract signatory

Part C -  Due Diligence and Business Case

(15) In developing a Business Case, a Head of School seeks input from their Faculty Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning (ADT&L), Curriculum and Academic Management, Education Quality Directorate, Finance, Brand Partnership and Business Development, Student Experience, and other schools and Divisions as appropriate.

(16) The Business Case must document and include all information included within the New Course Form – Initial Proposal Form in the Curriculum Management System plus the additional information below:

  1. Commercial and financial viability focus
    1. Overview of the Third Party partner
    2. Details of the historical performance of the Third Party partner from a business and educational perspective including teaching experience at the relevant AQF level
    3. Details of what the Third Party partner will provide or deliver within this arrangement.
  2. Academic Quality Assurance focus
    1.  Details of how the arrangement will be managed, monitored for quality assurance and reported on.
    2.  Nomination of the position who will be the Agreement Owner; with the default being Head of School.
    3.  Third Party staffing resources, capability and teaching qualifications.
    4. Description and assessment of all sites and facilities to be used to deliver the program.
  3. Completed risk assessment that includes any potential risk to the performance of the agreement.
  4. For international arrangements, the completed Foreign Interference Checklist.

(17) The Proposal Checklist provides more detailed guidance on information that needs to be included in the proposal.

(18) The Risk Assessment Template and proposal checklist template are required to be retained as part of the third party arrangement documentation.

(19) The Academic Governance process, which requires Curriculum Committee and Academic Board endorsement, and also includes approval by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer, includes the information contained within the New Course Form in the Curriculum Management System plus the additional information below:

  1. Commercial and financial viability focus
    1. Overview of the Third Party partner.
    2. Details of the historical performance of the Third Party partner from a business and educational perspective including teaching experience at the relevant AQF level.
    3. Details of what the Third Party partner will provide or deliver within this arrangement.
  2. Academic Quality Assurance focus
    1. Details of how the arrangement will be managed, monitored for quality assurance and reported on.
    2. Nomination of the position who will be the Agreement Owner; with the default being Head of School.
    3. Third Party staffing resources, capability and teaching qualifications.
    4. Description and assessment of all sites and facilities to be used to deliver the program.

Agreement – Execute Contract

(20) Once the business proposal has been approved by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer a formal agreement can commence drafting. Agreements may be drafted, but are not executed until the Academic Governance Approval stage has been completed.

(21) An Agreement is drafted using the template agreement maintained by Legal Services, and updated as required. An Agreement shall include (but not be limited to) the following information. This information is contained in the contract or a supplementary procedures manual that forms part of the agreement:

  1. A commencement and end date;
  2. The services to be provided to students under the Agreement;
  3.  The responsibilities of both parties under the Agreement including student support pathway(s);
  4. Governance and management arrangements that include provision for a Joint Management Committee that will meet a minimum of three times per year and will provide reporting on performance;
  5. The review and audit cycle and quality assurance arrangements and frequency, including details of review content and agreement to close actions resulting from the review as required;
  6. A clear communication model for communicating to students and communicating between the primary and third party provider; 
  7. Financial arrangements, including student fees and taxation;
  8. Provisions that require the jurisdiction for dispute resolution and governing law to be that of New South Wales, Australia;
  9. A termination for convenience clause which provides that UNE can terminate the agreement upon written notice, and a further clause addressing the consequences of termination, including the teaching out of students enrolled in courses covered by the agreement;
  10. Provisions for ownership and use of intellectual property, confidentiality, storage of student information, privacy, indemnity, force majeure, insurance and warranties;
  11. Individual course schedules for every course delivered under the Agreement;
  12. Responsibilities, if any, of the parties in securing initial approval or accreditation to operate in the third party jurisdiction, and in meeting any ongoing accreditation or reporting requirements in that jurisdiction;
  13. The Reference to the responsibilities of the parties under relevant legislation;
  14. In instances where the Agreement is produced and signed in more than one language, a provision that the English language version of the Agreement takes precedence in any conflicts between the translations;
  15. Academic integrity, student complaint, and appeal resolution mechanisms, and the requirement of staff at the third party to understand these requirements; 
  16. The requirements for qualifications and scholarship of staff teaching into the third party arrangement; and
  17. Where an agreement includes provisions for granting of credit, a requirement to ensure UNE is advised of any changes to unit learning.

(22) If the agreement involves the use of facilities offered by the third party, the process for drafting of an agreement will include a site visit audit by authorised UNE staff, to assure compliance with the requirements specified in the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015, and if applicable, the requirements in Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000.

(23) Agreements are prepared in accordance with UNE Delegations Register.

(24) Agreements are executed in accordance with requirements for off‐shore accreditation as necessary.

(25) The execution of an agreement under this procedure is reported to the UNE Academic Board and will form part of its report to the UNE Council.

(26) Education Quality Directorate ensures that a notification of material change is made to TEQSA within 14 days of agreement execution.

(27) UNE International, in partnership with Education Quality Directorate, ensures that registration is made on CRICOS if the course is made available to onshore international students.

(28) Office of Strategy Management (OSM) ensures that any updates are made to CSP information with the Commonwealth, if required.

(29) The School ensures that appropriate professional accreditation is sought and obtained prior to the course being first offered.

Part D - Management of the agreement

(30) The Head of School is the Agreement Owner unless another member of the Faculty is nominated for this role. The Agreement Owner will manage the operational requirements and outcomes of the agreement. Other resources within the Faculty may be required to support the agreement owner.

Academic Quality Assurance

(31) If the contract does not contain all required information to ensure Academic Quality Assurance requirements on academic quality management matters, an additional document may be referenced from the contract, comprising a Joint Procedures Manual.

(32) UNE is accountable for the quality of education and any services delivered by the third party provider and be able to confirm and demonstrate that the agreement meets, and continues to meet, the requirements of the HES Framework.

Table 4: Quality Assurance Reviews

Frequency Review
Each teaching period Moderation of grading/marking against a sample UNE cohort, by UNE staff, and tabled to the relevant Board of Examiners.
Annually
Student Satisfaction benchmarked against a sample UNE cohort, which is of the same AQF Level and in a similar discipline. If a similar discipline is not available, it is benchmarked against the school cohort.
Annually Review of staffing qualifications and/or scholarship including ensuring that all staff resources are available to fulfill their role, or are appropriately replaced, throughout the agreement period.
Annually
The functioning of the contract, through performance against the deliverables of the agreement throughout the period of the agreement.
Annually The outcomes of moderations of assessment.

(33) Where actions are required to remediate any risk to meeting the agreement deliverables or compliance to regulatory obligations, an action remediation plan is developed as part of the review, and provided to the Joint Management Committee, and as part of either the commercial activity or academic activity performance reporting.

Part E - Performance reporting requirements

Table 4: Quality Assurance Reviews

Frequency Review Report Provided to
Each teaching period Moderation of marking and/or grades against a sample UNE cohort, by UNE staff, and tabled to the relevant Board of Examiners Board of Examiners
Annually Student Satisfaction benchmarked against a sample UNE cohort, which is of the same AQF Level and in a similar discipline. If a similar discipline is not available, it is benchmarked against the school cohort
Faculty Education Committee
Academic Portfolio Executive Committee
Teaching and Learning Committee
Annually Review of staffing qualifications and/or scholarship including ensuring that all staff resources are available to fulfil their role, or are appropriately replaced, throughout the agreement period
Faculty Education Committee
Academic Portfolio Executive Committee
Teaching and Learning Committee
Annually
The functioning of the contract, through performance against the deliverables of the agreed responsibilities included in the contract throughout the period of the agreement, which might include but is not limited to:
- Load and enrolment data
- Admissions and adherence to admission criteria
- Advanced Standing applied
- Evidence of adherence to agent management requirements under the National Code, if relevant
- Adherence to brand and marketing policies
- Student grievances and Appeals
- Show cause and outcomes
- Academic integrity data
- Student Support use and provision
- Orientation attendance and content audit
Faculty Education Committee
Academic Portfolio Executive Committee
Teaching and Learning Committee
Annually The outcomes of moderations of marking and/or grades
Faculty Education Committee
Academic Portfolio Executive Committee
Teaching and Learning Committee
Annually Action plan to remediate identified risks to agreement deliverables or issues with compliance
Faculty Education Committee
Academic Portfolio Executive Committee
Teaching and Learning Committee

(34) An annual report will be provided to Academic Portfolio Executive Committee (APEC) and Teaching and Learning Committee. This report will include:

  1. A Commercial Activity section, comprising a review of commercial activity and financial viability in compliance with the Commercial Activities Rule; and
  2. An Academic Activity section, comprising the activities undertaken under the “Management of the Agreement throughout the Contract Period” section plus:
    1. Meetings of the Joint Management Committee
    2. Outcomes of any remediation actions
    3. Assurance that relevant staff in the school are aware of the requirements to operate under the agreement

(35) The Commercial Activities section is endorsed by APEC and approved by Executive Leadership Team.

(36) The Academic Activities section is endorsed by APEC and approved by Teaching and Learning Committee.

(37) For clarity, the requirement for annual performance reporting requirements applies from the introduction of this Policy.

Part F - Issue Management

(38) Outside of the annual performance reporting requirements, if a member of UNE staff identifies issues with any aspect of the third party arrangement that will potentially result in non-compliance to TEQSA and/or HESF standards, these issues are immediately flagged to the Agreement Owner and Education Quality Directorate for assistance and resolution.

Part G - Renewal and amendment of contracts

(39) Contracts are renewed only where Performance Reporting has been appropriately completed and any issues identified have been appropriately addressed.

(40) A request to renew a contract is normally put up at the same time as a performance report. A request to renew a contract is endorsed by Academic Portfolio Executive Committee and Teaching and Learning Committee, prior to being approved by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer.

(41) The requirements of regular Performance Reporting may highlight the need for amendments to an agreement with third party providers. Any amendments are discussed with Legal Services, with information provided to Academic Portfolio Executive Committee, and Teaching and Learning Committee, for noting or endorsement depending on the nature of and extent of the amendment.

Top of Page

Section 2 - Authority and Compliance

Authority

(42) The Procedure Administrator, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, pursuant to the University of New England Act 1993 (NSW), makes these procedures.

(43) These procedures are consistent with Academic Quality Assurance Policy and Commercial Activities Rule

(44) These procedures operate as and from the Effective Date. Any previous procedures on third party teaching delivery and support are replaced and have no further operation from the Effective Date.

(45) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Policy, the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer may approve an exception to these procedures where the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer determines the application of this procedures would otherwise lead to an unfair, unreasonable or absurd outcome.  Approvals by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer under this clause must be documented in writing and must state the reason for the exception.

Compliance

(46) UNE Representatives must observe these procedures in relation to third party education agreements.

Table 5: Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

Role Responsibilities include:
Head of School
Agreement Owner
Proposes third party arrangement and prepares proposal documents
Ensures documentation is updated with feedback as appropriate
Completes draft contract and negotiates the terms of the agreement with the third party provider, with support from Legal Services as required
Provides the final agreement to Legal Services to arrange execution Reviews arrangement performance once in operation and manages completion of actions resulting from reviews
Provides moderation of marking and/or grades report to Board of Examiners each teaching period
Provides annual commercial and academic performance reporting to Faculty Education Committee
Assists in resolving issues raised directly to them by UNE staff
Ensures that documentation is maintained in the Records Management System (RMS)
Executive Dean of Faculty
Endorses proposal for progression through the endorsement and approval workflows
Board of Examiners Reviews moderation of marking and/or grades report following each teaching period
Faculty Education Committee
Review annual commercial and academic quality performance reports
Provides annual reporting to APEC and Teaching and Learning Committee for endorsement
Academic Portfolio Executive Committee (APEC)
Endorses for Executive (ExT) and Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer draft approval as part of the New Courses workflow parts A and B
Oversees management of arrangement once in operation Reviews the annual commercial and academic quality reports and, when endorsed, presents to Executive Leadership Team (Commercial activities section) and Teaching and Learning Committee(academic activities section) for approval
Curriculum Committee Reviews proposal for endorsement as part of the New Courses workflow part B
Teaching and Learning Committee
Monitors the academic activities performance of the agreement
Receives endorsed annual academic activities reporting from APEC and reviews for approval of the report
Executive (ExT) Leadership Team
Approves draft and final proposal 
Receives endorsed annual commercial activities reporting from APEC and reviews for approval of the report
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer
Approves draft and final proposal 
Notifies Legal Services to o arrange execution of the agreement
Notifies Education Quality Directorate of approved arrangement
Executed Contract signatory
UNE Academic Board
Reviews and endorses to Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer for final approval
Notifies UNE Council once arrangement is approved by Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer
Legal Services
Reviews and advises on the draft contract once approved for execution
Endorses content of the contract prior to contract execution
Executes contract and includes in Contract Management System
Ensures all supporting documents are executed and stored in the Records Management System (RMS)
Education Quality Directorate
Reviews and provides guidance of the proposal to ensure compliance to TEQSA and HESF requirements
Review and endorses contract content prior to contract execution Notifies TEQSA of material change once approved for contract
Assists in resolving issues raised directly to Education Quality Directorate by UNE staff
Maintain a list of executed third party arrangements for annual reporting and monitoring
Finance team Reviews proposal from financial viability perspective
Brand Partnership and Business Development Reviews proposal for admission, brand and marketing alignment
Joint Management Committee
Comprises of representatives from UNE and the Third party provider
Reviews and discusses performance against agreed responsibilities and outcomes
Identifies risks and manages remediation actions Reports on agreement performance as per Part E of this Policy
Top of Page

Section 3 - Quality Assurance

(47) Education Quality Directorate is responsible for monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of this procedure.

Top of Page

Section 4 - Definitions (specific to these Procedures)

(48) Agreement Owner: An Agreement Owner is the position that is accountable for proposing and/or managing a third party agreement. A third party agreement must always have a recognised Agreement Owner.

(49) Risk Assessment: Identifying and assessing potential (future) events that may negatively impact people or the ability to achieve outcomes of an agreement or project.

(50) Study spaces and Learning spaces: A study or learning space is a facility, physical or online, utilised by UNE Representatives and Students for study or learning activities.

(51) Academic support services: Administrative and personal support services that provide help for study, career development and life outside of the classroom.

(52) Internships: An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time.

(53) Joint Management Committee: Is a committee that comprises of representatives from UNE and the Third party provider.