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Third Party Arrangements Policy

Section 1 - Summary

(1) The purpose of this Policy is to set out broad principles that underpin the delivery of Victoria University Higher Education (HE) courses in partnership with other providers in Australia and offshore locations.

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Section 2 - Accountability

Accountable Officer/Responsible Officer

Role

Accountable Officer Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Responsible Officer Director, Academic Quality and Standards

Key Decision-Making powers under the Policy

(Delegated) Power

Role

Endorse Third-Party Agreements after checking academic components Academic Board via Courses Committee
Approve Third-Party Agreements on behalf of VU Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor in consultation with relevant members of Senior Executive Group. In particular, for agreements involving international partners or international students, the Senior Vice-President, Future Students and Planning must be consulted.
Approve modifications to the applicability of VU policies/alternative academic progress, student misconduct or student complaints models Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
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Section 3 - HESF/ASQA/ESOS Alignment

(2) HESF Standard: 1.3 Orientation and Progression; 3.1 Course Design; 5.2 Academic and Research Integrity; 5.4 Delivery with Other Partners; 7.1 Representation.

(3) Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015: Standards 2.3-2.4; 4.1; 5.1-5.4; 6.1-6.2; 7.3; 8.2-8.3.

(4) Victorian 2018-2019 Dual Sector VET Funding Contract - Skills First Program: Clauses 7.10; 12.7.

(5) National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011: Sections 28(1); 93; 94; 116; 117.

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Section 4 - Scope

(6) This Policy applies to:

  1. formal delivery arrangements with domestic and international partners involving Higher Education (HE) and Vocational Education (VE) award and non-award courses with accredited units offered by Victoria University (VU);
  2. formal delivery arrangements with domestic and international partners involving research training courses;
  3. courses, staff and students of designated VU Campuses;
  4. courses, staff and students of wholly owned subsidiaries of VU;
  5. staff involved in course delivery in partnership with other providers (HE only);
  6. partner institution staff involved in course delivery on behalf of VU (HE only);
  7. students undertaking VU and externally-registered courses delivered in partnership with other providers (this does not include partnerships where the partner is delivering their own courses in conjunction with VU delivery);
  8. licensing and auspicing arrangements with respect to VU courses (HE only).

(7) This Policy applies to all delivery methods, including online, face to face, burst and blended learning delivery.

(8) This Policy does not apply to:

  1. Commercial activity that does not involve an award or non-award course;
  2. Research partnerships involving individual research projects, research funding or researcher collaborations;
  3. Articulation and credit recognition arrangements (see Credit Policy);
  4. Dual and Joint Award arrangements (see Credit - Dual and Joint Awards Procedure); and
  5. Student and staff mobility arrangements (see New Procedure Pending).
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Section 5 - Definitions

(9) Dual Award (HE only)

(10) Joint Award (HE only)

(11) Staff and Student Mobility Arrangements (HE only): These arrangements may include study abroad programs, staff exchange and research programs, and other arrangements where VU makes a specific agreement with a partner institution for a short-term stay by students or staff.

(12) Third-Party Arrangements:

  1. HE: For the purposes of this Policy, a third-party arrangement is a formal agreement between VU and one or more educational institutions for the purposes of the partner institution wholly or partly delivering VU units or courses on VU's behalf. 
  2. VE: For the purposes of this Policy, a third party agreement for VET delivery is a formal agreement for the advertisement, marketing, recruitment, enrolment, delivery, assessment and issuance of qualifications of a VU VET course by VU Polytechnic as the principal RTO. The conditions under which VU may partner with a non RTO or a RTO are specified in the NVR act and and the Directions and referred to below.

(13) Scope of Registration: Means the training products for which an RTO is registered to issue AQF certification documentation. It allows the RTO to:

  1. both provide training delivery and assessment resulting in the issuance of AQF certification documentation by the RTO; or
  2. provide assessment resulting in the issuance of AQF certification documentation by the RTO.

(14) RTO: Means a Registered Training Organisation registered by ASQA (or, in some cases, a state regulator) to deliver VET services.

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Section 6 - Policy Statement

Part A - Establishing Third-Party Arrangements

(15) VU will only enter into a collaborative arrangement with another institution or organisation whose quality of provision, vision, mission and values are compatible with its own.

(16) For VE courses, advertisement, marketing, recruitment, enrolment, delivery, assessment and issuance of qualifications of a VU VET course may only be by VU Polytechnic as the principal RTO.

(17) All courses will comply with all external and internal regulatory requirements of both Australia and the host country (if delivered outside of Australia).

Course Concept and Business Proposal

(18) All proposed third-party arrangements for the delivery of VU HE courses must have a Course Concept and Business Proposal developed and approved.

(19) The process and requirements for the Course Concept and Business Proposal are provided in the Courses Lifecycle - Concept Proposal and Business Case (HE) Procedure.

(20) VE third party arrangements must have a Business Case and Course Costing developed and approved by VU Polytechnic Senior Leadership Team.

(21) The process and requirements for the Business Case and Course Costing for VE are in the Courses Lifecycle - Award Course Approval (VET) Procedure.

Risk Assessment and Due Diligence

(22) The University must consider the status, reputation and financial viability of a potential partner, and the risks associated with the country/location of delivery, before entering into third-party or partnership delivery arrangements.

(23) For VET partnerships, VU must consider:

  1. fit and proper person’s status of the partner staff,
  2. approval to deliver funded training, and
  3. whether the partner's status to deliver has ever been terminated, revoked, suspended, restricted or cancelled.

(24) An assessment must be made of the:

  1. Strategic purpose of the proposed collaboration;
  2. Partner reputation (including senior staff and shareholders);
  3. Possible impact on existing partnerships;
  4. Quality assurance provisions;
  5. Verified financial viability of the partner;
  6. Financial, commercial and brand impacts on VU;
  7. Risks;
  8. Countries / regions covered under the collaborative arrangement; and
  9. Exit strategies should the arrangement become untenable.

(25) For HE partner institutions must have:

  1. the demonstrated capability to deliver the program to the academic standards required by VU;
  2. the ability to sustain those programs financially;
  3. the legal standing to enter into an agreement with VU; and
  4. be recognised as an institution permitted to deliver a VU degree in the home country as suggested by the Australian Department of Education and Training.

(26) For VE VU VET partner institutions must:

  1. have legal standing to enter into a partnership;
  2. agree to act as the agent of VU in the delivery of the VU VET courses;
  3. agree that they will not offer to provide (advertise) or provide (deliver or assess) VU VET courses;
  4. agree that only VU Polytechnic, as the principal provider of the VET course is the principal RTO and that all advertising, marketing, recruitment, enrolment and issuance of qualifications must be in the name of the principal RTO only.

(27) Should the partner be an RTO with the course on scope and deliver part of the course, this must be identified on the AQF documents.

(28) If delivering part of the course, the partner must be an RTO with the course on scope.

Part B - Contract Development

(29) A formal agreement must be drawn up between the University and the partner. The agreement must include measures for management, monitoring and review of the partnership arrangement.

(30) HE Partner agreements will generally cover the following matters:

  1. The Award title/s that will be conferred upon completion;
  2. Quality assurance of both the course/s and the arrangement as a whole - including approval, amendments, monitoring and reviewing processes and how this will be undertaken;
  3. Course Co-ordination;
  4. Admission requirements as determined by the appropriately Delegated Officers (see Admissions Policy and Courses Lifecycle Policy suite);
  5. Methods by which partners will ensure that the information (both online and in print format) provided to students (prospective and current) is consistent with the needs of the cohorts, is accurate, and is not misleading;
  6. Time, unit load and sequencing of the course of study;
  7. Fees;
  8. Enrolment status of students (whether they are considered enrolled at both institutions or only at VU);
  9. Access to resources for the delivery of the course and the provision of support services for students;
  10. In the case of partnerships with non-Australian providers, the language of instruction and assessment must be identified. Where VE delivery occurs offshore to guarantee equivalency, it must reflect the requirements of Australian industry as described by training packages;
  11. Credit arrangements and sequencing of units;
  12. Complaints, appeals and review processes for students;
  13. Commercial conditions, including protection of student fees, and arrangements which enable the University to operate legally in the jurisdiction;
  14. Conditions for the extension or termination of the Agreement, and circumstances under which the full approval process must be re-engaged (ie where there is material change to the arrangement).

(31) VET contract inclusions are specified in the Directions and are:

  1. the names of the RTO and the third party;
  2. the start and end date of the agreement;
  3. clauses detailing both parties’ obligations under the agreement, for example, making clear that:
    1. any training and/or assessment is provided in the name of the RTO, not the third party;
    2. the third party cannot advertise any VET courses in its own name;
    3. students are enrolled as students of the RTO, not the third party;
    4. qualifications and/or statements of attainment are issued in the name of the RTO, not the third party;
  4. clauses detailing the obligations of the third party (that is, setting out which party will provide training and assessment materials, resources and facilities);
  5. the mechanisms through which the RTO will systematically monitor the third party (for example, if the third party is providing the training and assessment materials, resources and facilities), including:
    1. how these will be reviewed prior to use across all delivery sites;
    2. how the RTO will ensure that trainers and/or assessors provided by the third party meet the requirements of the Standards for RTOs;
    3. record-keeping procedures for enrolment information and completed assessments;
    4. details of which party will validate completed student assessments;
  6. any obligations (of the RTO or third party) relating to government subsidies or other financial support;
  7. clauses requiring the third party to cooperate with ASQA and provide accurate responses to requests about delivery of services.

Policy applicability

(32) Wherever possible, VU policies, procedures and processes will apply to students and staff in third-party delivery arrangements.

(33) In a case where VU policies need to have their application modified to suit the needs of partnership arrangements or locations, all variations from standard VU policies must be brought to the attention of the relevant Policy Owner and the Policy Unit.

(34) Explicit exceptions to University policies must be approved by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

(35) Exceptions are not permissible if they will compromise VU's standards, reputation or assets.

Part C - Student Selection and Support

Course information and promotion

(36) VU will at all times reserve the right to verify that information provided about its courses to prospective and current students is:

  1. accurate;
  2. complete; and
  3. not misleading, deceptive or unduly complex.

(37) For HE only, third-party agreements will specify that VU has the right and duty to check on information being provided by partners, and to require immediate amendment where it is not current or accurate.

(38) For VE, VU must advertise, recruit and select students.

Admissions and Enrolment

(39) The minimum academic level for admission to a VU course delivered by partners will be appropriate for the course level under the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) and will be equivalent to the requirements for entry into the course if taught by VU.

(40) English requirements will be adequate to equip students to participate effectively in the course and achieve the expected learning outcomes in accordance with the Admissions Policy.

(41) The student selection process will involve assessment of applicants against prescribed course entry requirements in accordance with the Admissions Policy and the Admissions - Course Admissions and Pre-Training Review Procedure (VET).

(42) Advanced Standing and Learning Pathways assessments will be undertaken in accordance with:

  1. Credit - Advanced Standing Procedure (HE)
  2. Credit - Pathways Procedure
  3. VET Skills Recognition Procedure

(43) The credit given toward a course should preserve the integrity of learning outcomes and course requirements without disadvantaging students.

(44) For VE, all students must be enrolled by the Principal RTO (VU Poly) and testamurs and statements of attainment may only be issued by the Principal RTO.

Student Support

(45) All students in VU courses delivered by partner organisations (for VU VET courses, whether delivered solely by VU Polytechnic or in part by an approved RTO partners) are protected by, and expected to comply with, the University's policies, procedures and processes on personal behaviour (including where mentioned under 21 above). These include:

  1. Discrimination and Harassment Prevention and Management Policy;
  2. Sexual Harassment Response Policy;
  3. Bullying Prevention and Management Policy;
  4. Sexual Assault Response Policy;
  5. Safety and Welfare of Children and Young People Policy;
  6. Student Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy and Procedures;
  7. Student Equity and Social Inclusion Policy;
  8. Student Charter Policy.

(46) All students will be provided with a culturally appropriate orientation that familiarises them with relevant VU policies, grievance processes and student services.

(47) Students and staff will have sufficient access to facilities, equipment and teaching resources to enable them to meet the learning outcomes of the course in accordance with the Learning and Teaching Policy.

(48) Arrangements for the delivery of a course must provide students with sufficient access to appropriate academic, learning and personal support services. Services will be provided in equitable and inclusive ways.

Student Complaints and Grievances

(49) Students in VU courses delivered by partners (for VU VET courses, whether delivered solely by VU Polytechnic or in part by an approved RTO partner) will have access to VU's Student Complaints Resolution and Student Appeals processes.

(50) In certain cases, for HE the partner's complaints mechanism may apply as an alternative to, or adjunct to, to VU's complaints system:

  1. if it is functionally equivalent to the VU model and compliant with the requirements of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 and Standards for Registered Training Organisations; and,
  2. it is a more expedient and immediate way to provide students with access to appropriate resolution of their concerns.

(51) The complaints mechanism which will apply must be specified in the Agreement and approved by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Part D - Quality Assurance and Equivalence of Learning

Curriculum and Course Governance

(52) The approval process for new course delivery in all locations will comply with the VU Courses Lifecycle Policy and Procedures.

(53) If a course is discontinued, there will be effective teach-out or transition plans for all enrolled students to ensure that these students are not disadvantaged. Course cessation and student transition will be conducted in accordance with the Courses Lifecycle Policy and the Courses Lifecycle - Course Cessation and Student Transition (HE) Procedure.

Academic Integrity, Assessment, Academic Progress and Student Misconduct

(54) VU will maintain the same standards of academic integrity in all courses, including those delivered by partners (for VU VET courses, whether delivered solely by VU Polytechnic or in part by an approved RTO partner). VU's Academic Integrity and Preventing Plagiarism Policy will apply in all cases and exemptions to this Policy are not permissible.

(55) VU and partner teaching staff will have in place strategies (including formative assessment) to:

  1. provide educational support in assisting students understand the requirements of academic integrity and how to comply; and
  2. identify students who are not making satisfactory progress and provide necessary support in accordance with the Assessment for Learning Policy and Procedures, Academic Progress Regulations 2016, Academic Progress - Unsatisfactory Academic Progress Procedure (HE), VET Domestic Student Progress Review Procedure and VET Overseas Student Progress Review Procedure.

(56) Assessment tasks will be, where possible, the same as assessment tasks used in local / VU delivery of the course. Where identical tasks are not possible or appropriate, equivalent tasks will be established. For VE, Assessment tasks must meet the requirements of the Training packages, including conditions for assessment. Where assessments vary between cohorts, a rationale must be included.

(57) The integrity of the examination process will be ensured in all locations. The Assessment for Learning - Examination Administration Procedure - Examination Rules will apply in all instances, unless an equivalent and approved set of examination rules provided by the partner is found to be suitable and is approved by the DVC.

(58) Students will have access to the same or equivalent process to query or dispute an assessment result in an HE course or unit as students in VU-delivered courses or units. These processes are outlined in the Assessment for Learning - Review of Individual Assessment Outcomes Procedure (HE). VET students training under third party arrangements are VU students and are subject to VU VET asssessment dispute processes.

(59) Students in partner-delivered courses will be subject to the same academic progression rules, processes and interventions as students in VU-delivered courses. VU will ensure that an appropriate and equivalent mechanism for progress intervention is used for partner-taught students, which may involve:

  1. progress hearings convened by the partner organisation and reported to VU;
  2. remote access to VU-convened progress hearings via technology; or
  3. another mechanism as specified under the Agreement and approved by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

(60) VET students training under third party agreements are VU students and subject to VU VET academic progression rules, processes and interventions.

(61) Both academic and general misconduct by students will be managed under VU's Student Misconduct Regulations 2019 and associated Student Misconduct Procedure, unless otherwise specified in the Agreement.

(62) In certain cases, for HE the partner's misconduct mechanism may apply as an alternative to VU's system:

  1. if it is functionally equivalent to the VU model and compliant with the requirements of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015; and
  2. it is a more expedient and immediate way to handle misconduct of students, especially when there is an immediate need for action.

(63) VET students are subject to the Student Misconduct Procedure.

(64) The misconduct mechanism which will apply must be specified in the Agreement and approved by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Part E - Staffing requirements

(65) All staff of a partner organisation who will be delivering VU HE courses must provide appropriate evidence of their qualifications and fitness to teach (including required checks such as Working With Children (WWC) or equivalent) to their own organisation, which must then provide this information to VU:

  1. at the commencement of the arrangement;
  2. when any new staff are added into the teaching cohort for VU courses;
  3. Staff of a partner organisation may only deliver part of VU VET qualifications if the partner organisation is an RTO with the VU VET course on scope. It is the responsibility of VU Polytechnic, as the principal RTO to check and confirm the qualifications meet ASQA requirements;
  4. Any person delivering a VET course must be engaged and managed by VU unless the partner organisation has the VU VET course that is the subject of the agreement on its scope of delivery, in which case, VU is the principal RTO.

(66) Partner staff must meet the qualifications or professional experience equivalence requirements established in:

  1. Learning and Teaching - Equivalence of Professional Experience to Qualifications (Staff) Procedure
  2. VET Teacher Qualifications and Competency Procedure

(67) Where partner staff do not meet these requirements for HE courses or units, application must be made by the relevant VU Course Co-ordinator for an exemption as per the process in that Procedure.

(68) No exceptions to the established rules are permissable for staff teaching or assessing VE units.

(69) VU reserves the right to refuse consent for any nominated teaching staff member of a partner organisation to deliver VU courses if:

  1. the staff member does not possess the required qualifications or experience, and no relevant exemption is approved;
  2. the staff member has not passed required fit and proper checks, such as those required under the Child Safe Standards; or
  3. the staff member is unable to provide appropriate evidence of their qualifications, experience or background check status.

(70) Any staff delivering a VET course must be engaged and managed by VU unless the partner organisation has the VU VET course that is the subject of the agreement on its scope of delivery, in which case, VU is the principal RTO.

Part F - Monitoring, Reporting and Ending Third-Party Arrangements

(71) VU courses are subject to systematic internal and external review processes to maintain the integrity of the course and ensure continuous improvement. Review processes will be undertaken in accordance with the Courses Lifecycle Policy and Procedures.

(72) The functioning of the Third-Party delivery arrangement must be separately reviewed annually to ensure it is operating as intended and within the bounds of the Agreement.

(73) A Register of Third-Party Arrangements (within scope of this Policy) will be created and maintained.

(74) VU VET third party arrangements must be reported to the regulator within 30 days of entering into or cancelling a written agreement with a third party.

(75) Where an agreement for courses of concern is contemplated, VU, as the Principal RTO, must request written approval from ASQA prior to entering into the agreement.

(76) A Strategic Review of the Third-Party delivery arrangement for any HE courses or units, and its Agreement and its Schedules, must be completed every 3 years. The review will include all elements of the Third-Party arrangement.

(77) Academic Board will receive and review the reports of both the Annual and Strategic Reviews of Third-Party arrangements, courses and Agreements involving HE programs.

(78) Third-Party Arrangements may be disestablished:

  1. At the expiry of an Agreement, if either party determines that there is no longer a good case for maintaining the partnership;
  2. According to the termination or exit clauses incorporated in the Agreement, which must include early exit for reasons relating to:
    1. A substantially changed academic, teaching or quality profile of one or both partners;
    2. A substantially changed commercial or financial profile or one or more partners which impacts on their ability to fulfill their obligations under the Agreement;
    3. Inability of the University to continue to operate legally or soundly in the jurisdiction; or,
    4. Any other specific exit conditions nominated in the Agreement.

(79) Where a Third-Party Arrangement is terminated, including termination in advance of the Agreement's nominated expiry date, VU must:

  1. Ensure appropriate advice, support and transition arrangements are put in place for currently enrolled students;
  2. Ensure that prospective students are quickly advised of the termination of the partner delivery;
  3. Ensure that all relevant registration authorities are notified of the termination in a timely manner.
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Section 7 - Procedures

(80) Third Party Arrangements Procedure

(81) Third Party Arrangements - Review of Third Party Arrangements Procedure

(82) Third Party Arrangements - Online Partnerships Procedure

(83) Third-Party Licensing and Auspicing Procedure (pending)

(84) Third Party Arrangements - Third Party Arrangements Procedure (VET)