Managing Third Party and Transnational Arrangements 

Posted: 06/09/2023
by: Claire Holmes

In the dynamic landscape of collaborative education, where higher education providers forge partnerships, a set of several regulations play a pivotal role. The Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 (Threshold Standards), the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (the National Code) Part B, and the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (the ESOS Act) collectively impose specific responsibilities on registered higher education providers (providers) with regard to the concept of ‘delivery with other parties’ situated within Australia and Overseas.

TEQSA’s published ‘Guidance note: Delivery with other parties’, encompasses arrangements between a provider and another entity for the delivery of a course of study or parts of it, that leads to the award of a regulated higher education qualification. These arrangements are substantiated through legally binding contracts, acting as the cornerstone for defining roles, responsibilities, and quality assurance mechanisms between collaborating parties. This prompts us to explore the nature of ‘delivery with other parties,’ its implications, and its interplay with Transnational Education (TNE) and Third-Party Arrangements (TPA).

The crux of the difference between Third-Party Arrangements (TPA) and Transnational Education (TNE) lies in the nuances of collaboration. While both TPAs and TNE arrangements serve as strategies for institutions to extend their educational footprint and cater to diverse student needs, they hold distinct characteristics and ramifications.

A Third-Party Arrangement (TPA) involves an educational institution partnering with an external entity, often a private provider or another institution, to deliver education services on its behalf. While Transnational Education (TNE), also known as cross-border education or international education, involves the provision of educational programs by an institution in one country to students located in another country. TNE allows institutions to extend their reach and offer their programs to a global audience, often through partnerships with local institutions or through online platforms.

As Australian higher education providers, understanding the intricate interplay of these regulatory standards and collaborative models is paramount. In delivering a course with another party, the provider remains accountable for the course of study and its ongoing compliance with the Threshold Standards. For providers educating students from overseas, the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (the National Code) Part B and the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (the ESOS Act) apply.

So, what should be considered when setting up a TPA/TNE and how can a provider ensure quality, compliance, and successful implementation? Key considerations should include;

Regulatory Compliance:

  • Understand and adhere to the regulatory framework outlined by TEQSA and other relevant authorities in the jurisdiction where the TPA or TNE will be established.
  • Familiarize yourself with TEQSA’s Guidance Note on Delivery with other parties to ensure alignment with quality standards and compliance requirements.

Due Diligence:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence on the third-party provider or partner institution before entering into an arrangement. Evaluate their track record, financial stability, governance structure, alignment with your institution’s strategy, and academic reputation.
  • Consider their capability to meet quality standards and uphold academic integrity.

Quality Assurance Framework:

  • Develop a robust quality assurance framework that covers curriculum design, content delivery, assessment methods, student support services, and continuous improvement.
  • Ensure that the quality assurance mechanisms are comparable to those applied to on-campus programs.

Collaboration Agreements:

  • Establish clear and comprehensive collaboration agreements that outline the roles, responsibilities, expectations, and obligations of all parties involved in the TPA or TNE.
  • These agreements should address aspects such as program content, assessment practices, student progression, quality monitoring, and reporting mechanisms.

Academic Standards:

  • Maintain consistent academic standards across all programs offered through the TPA or TNE.
  • Ensure that learning outcomes, assessment criteria, and program rigor are equivalent to those of on-campus programs.

Student Support:

  • Provide adequate support services to students enrolled in the TPA or TNE programs. This includes access to resources, counselling, academic assistance, and administrative support.
  • Consider the unique needs of international students in cross-border arrangements.

Regulatory Reporting and Compliance:

  • Establish processes for regular reporting to regulatory bodies, including TEQSA. This includes data on program delivery, student outcomes, and any incidents that might impact quality.
  • Universities can use the data and reporting generated from adoption of UFIT Guidelines to promote their approach to counter foreign interference across the sector and to government in line with university governance processes, for example in university annual reports.

Risk Management:

  • Identify and assess potential risks associated with the TPA or TNE, such as legal, financial, reputational, and operational risks.
  • Foreign interference risks should be integrated into existing risk frameworks, policies and procedures.
  • Develop strategies to mitigate these risks effectively.

Cultural Adaptation:

  • Acknowledge and adapt to cultural differences when delivering programs in different regions. Consider language barriers, communication styles, social norms, and local expectations.
  • Ensure that the curriculum and delivery methods are culturally sensitive and relevant.

Continuous Improvement:

  • Establish mechanisms for continuous monitoring and improvement of the TPA or TNE programs.
  • Regularly review program delivery, student feedback, and assessment outcomes to identify areas for enhancement.

If you would like further information about how DVE could assist your institution with your TPA or TNE needs, please reach out to the DVE Business Solutions Team – we’re always happy to organise an Advisory Session or an informal chat to support you.