Management of Off-Campus Operations, Ventures and Partnerships
This policy relates to the establishment and management of joint venture arrangements for the off-campus delivery of JCU programs, wholly or in part, in partnership with universities, or other educational providers, whether in Australia or overseas.
This policy encompasses twinning, franchising, joint degree arrangements with overseas universities and other partnership arrangements.
This policy does not apply to arrangements based solely on articulation or student exchange.
This policy does not apply to JCU Singapore.
Collaborative arrangements with overseas universities and research institutions based primarily on research collaboration and staff and student exchange are covered by other policies developed by the International Liaison Committee.
To create a policy framework to ensure that all off-campus partnerships are established and managed in a manner consistent with best practice Quality Assurance principles.
Policy and Procedures
The Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Committee has responsibility for the review and approval
of off-campus programs subject, where appropriate, to approval by Council and on academic matters by Academic Board.
Scope of Policy
Principles and Issues
Clearing House for Information
A Strategic Approach
Development of New Programs
Internal Distribution of Income
Approval and Management Process
Pro Forma Questions for Performance Review of Off-Campus Programs
1. Scope of Policy
1.1. This policy applies to the establishment and management of joint venture arrangements for the off-campus delivery of JCU programs, wholly or in part, in partnership with universities, or other educational institutions, whether in Australia or overseas.
1.2. The policy encompasses twinning, franchising, joint degree arrangements with overseas universities and other partnership arrangements but excludes arrangements based solely on articulation or student exchange.
1.3. This policy excludes collaborative agreements with overseas universities and research institutions based primarily on research collaboration and staff and student exchange which are covered by other policies developed by the International Liaison Committee.
1.4. This paper does not apply to JCU Singapore which is covered by a number of separate agreements except in as much as it sets out rules of engagement for the University to coordinate its off-campus activities with those of JCU Singapore (see clause 12).
2. Principles and Issues
2.1. The management of off-campus operations ventures and partnerships exposes the University to a variety of risks, both financial and reputational. Due diligence and best practice requires the University to adopt processes based on sound business and Quality Assurance principles and clear academic, strategic and operational objectives. Any arrangement must:
deliver net financial benefits (be profitable), either directly in fees or indirectly from fee income from students articulating into on-campus programs in Australia and/or deliver significant reputational benefits to the University;
be properly costed to make provision for all academic and administrative costs;
be consistent with the University’s strategic objectives; and,
minimise the University exposure to financial or reputational risk.
2.2. The management of off-campus operations, ventures or partnerships must address the following key issues.
Responsibilities and reporting arrangements
Coordination of information on off-campus opportunities and programs
Purpose of any collaborative program
Relevance of the program to the University’s strategic objectives
Business planning, including transparent costing and the balancing of returns (including reputational) against investment (viz, funds, intellectual property and staff time)
Distribution of fee income within JCU
Legal and accreditation requirements
Administrative procedures and systems
Academic standards, quality assurance and accreditation
Student support arrangements
Ongoing liaison with off-campus partners, including JCU Singapore
3. Key Responsibilities
3.1 Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors are responsible for the development of proposals, management of programs, facilities and staff, and for ensuring compliance with approved off-campus policies and processes.
3.2 The role of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services and the Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance is to facilitate the development and management of off-campus partnerships through advice, including recommendations on potential partners.
3.3 The Vice-Chancellor is responsible for approving new off-campus partnerships or changes to existing relationships, based on recommendations from senior managers and University committees (see Appendix 3).
3.4 Signing authority for legal agreements relating to off-campus partnerships rests solely with the Vice-Chancellor or nominee.
3.5 Academic Board approval is required on the academic content and structure of off-campus programs. As a matter of principle such approval is required for any program delivered at a new location, even where approval has been previously granted for the same program delivered by the same partner institution at another location
3.6 Approval by the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s), subject to noting by Academic Board, is required for credit recognition for prior learning for students entering off-campus JCU programs, such approval to be reviewed every three years
4. Clearing House for Information
4.1 The office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services will act as a central clearing house for information on off-campus operations, ventures and partnerships, facilitating a coordinated approach. All agreements and relevant documents must be copied to this office.
4.2. The office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services will ensure that Pro-Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors are kept informed on off-campus partnership arrangements. Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Executive Directors in turn will be responsible for informing relevant staff in their respective Faculties/Divisions.
4.3 Notwithstanding that all documentation must be copied to the clearing house, each off-campus partner institution will communicate via a point of contact at JCU.
4.3.1 Where the partnership is specific to a single Faculty the point of contact will be the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
4.3.2 Where there is a broader partnership involving more than one Faculty or encompassing other forms of collaboration (e.g. research collaboration) the point of contact will be the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services.
5. A Strategic Approach
5.1 The University will adopt a proactive approach to off-campus operations, ventures and partnerships based on sound internationalisation principles:
A commitment to establishing a limited number of high-quality off-campus programs consistent with the University’s capacity to ensure Quality Assurance and academic excellence.
A commitment to the development of a portfolio of off-campus programs across a range of disciplines rather than an exclusive focus on high-demand areas (viz, business and IT).
A commitment to establishing off-campus programs with leading overseas universities that offer opportunities for broader collaboration in research and staff and student exchange.
A commitment to full costing and robust financial models.
6. Development of New Programs
6.1 A summary of the procedures for the establishment and management of off-campus programs is shown in Appendix 1.
6.2 A summary of the approval process for off-campus agreements is shown in Appendix 3. Where it is anticipated that a program in question will involve more than 300 students, or have a value exceeding $5 million over two years, approval will be required from the Strategy Committee.
6.3 Partner Selection
6.3.1 The University will be proactive and strategic in partner selection based on strategic objectives and the best advice from reliable sources on the reputation of the proposed partner
6.3.2 A comprehensive financial and academic review of the proposed partner will be undertaken, including where available, an analysis of:
- record as an educational institution
- level of long-term commitment to education
- level of investment over time in premises, teaching materials, IT support and other infrastructure
- Quality Assurance practices
- status of accreditation, where required, with regulatory authorities
- graduate outcomes
- industry conditions for delivering programs
In the case of overseas universities, an analysis will be undertaken of the standing of the university, including its research standing, and opportunities for broader collaboration (viz, research collaboration and staff and student exchange)
In the case of overseas private institutions, company structure and financial status of the potential partner will be examined via:
- inquiries via, for example, an Australian Embassy or High Commission
- due diligence on financial status
Difficulties may arise in obtaining a comprehensive range of information for some potential partner institutions. Regardless, sufficient information must be accessed to allow an informed judgment to be made on the suitability of an institution as a partner for the University.
6.3.3. Establishing the credentials of the potential partner must occur prior to or in parallel with commercial negotiations.
6.3.4. For overseas partnerships there should be special regard to the national and local context within which the partner is operating and where appropriate to the country and region in question. Care should be taken to understand fully:
- local law relating to higher education (e.g. requirement for Ministry of Education approval)
- the local higher education system and the partner’s position in it
- requirements in respect of national and international recognition of awards
- local educational traditions and conventions, including practices relating to student assessment
- national and local law relating to industrial relations issues
- ability of the partner to maintain professional and ethical academic standards comparable to those of Australian institutions
6.4. Development of a Business and Academic Plan
6.4.1. Any off-campus program must be fully-costed, including all academic and administrative costs, and operate at profit, or be likely to operate at profit after an initial start-up period, either directly or indirectly from fee income from students articulating into on-campus programs in Australia, or in the event of a program not being profitable, deliver significant reputational benefits to the University.
6.4.2. A detailed 5-year (or for a lesser period if the proposed agreement is for a lesser period) business and academic plan will be developed by the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) for each new off-campus partnership.
6.4.3. The business plan will address partner selection (see clause 7.3) as well as:
- specification of all services to be provided by each institution
- full analysis of academic and administrative costs to the University
- fee structure
- full costs (e.g. teaching materials, travel and administrative costs) and risks (including reputational) of the proposed arrangements
- projected numbers of students overtime, both off-campus and articulating
- projected income from student fees
- distribution of fee income to School(s) and Divisions within the University
- marketing costs
- risk management plan
- profit sharing arrangements
- costs of student support and welfare, including student counselling and advice on housing and accommodation and study skills
- specification of income disbursement
- financial safeguards, including risk management and hedging of funds
- operational efficiencies
It is the responsibility of the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) to identify and fully cost all academic and administrative costs to the University.
6.4.4 The academic plan will address the following issues:
- award of credit on prior qualifications
- pre-requisites, including competency in English
- content, timing and duration of program
- assessment process, including assignments and examinations
- requirements for support materials, including library and computer facilities
- requirements for and minimum standards for staff qualifications and experience
- quality assurance
- qualifications of off-campus staff
- marketing and promotion of the program
- duration of program of study
- language of instruction
6.4.5 The business and academic plan will include a Quality Assurance plan.
6.5. Legal and Accreditation Requirements
6.5.1. Whilst a Memorandum of Understanding may serve in the initial phases as a framework for collaborative arrangements, off-campus partnerships must in the longer term be based on a legally binding Heads of Agreement, Services Agreement and/or other agreement(s), as appropriate. Such agreements need to be comprehensive and include information on fees, payments, program delivery, respective obligations and responsibilities of the parties, administrative processes, intellectual property rights (including licences and the right to sub-licence), duration and termination, dispute resolution, Quality Assurance and-other key issues. Where the arrangement results in any separate legal entity, the agreement must address procedures for winding up the entity. Where the other party takes it upon itself to draft the agreement the University will seek its own legal advice.
6.5.2. Responsibility for drafting or reviewing legal agreements rests with the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s). In practice it may require the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) to work in conjunction with the Director, Governance Services & University Secretary, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services, and Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance.
6.5.3. Agreements need not be drafted until in principle approval has been granted by the Vice Chancellor on the recommendation of Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. Agreements are binding on the University only where the Vice-Chancellor or nominee signs them.
6.5.4. To cover circumstance where the partner institution does not meet its obligations and financial targets, agreements must make specific provision for termination under circumstances that minimise the consequences, financial or otherwise, for the University. At the same time, the agreement must ensure that termination does not adversely affect students already enrolled in the program, who as a matter of principle must be allowed to complete their program of study without penalty.
6.5.5. Any program offered at a partner institution to international students is for AUQA purposes a program of the University and as such must meet with AUQA requirements and be subject to AUQA review. Programs offered in other countries may be subject to local accreditation. In such cases, AUQA may consult with local accreditation agencies, but will require that Australian legal obligations and University quality assurance practices be complied with.
6.5.6. Offshore programs or programs offered at a partner institution in Australia to international students must adhere to the AV-CC Code of Ethical Practice governing the provision of education to international students by Australian universities. As a matter of principle the academic content and quality of offshore programs must be closely similar to that of equivalent programs delivered on-campus, and the offshore partner must apply the University’s standards of care for student welfare, including grievance procedures and the right of academic appeal.
7. Administrative Processes
7.1. The International Student Centre (ISC) will be responsible for the enrolment of off-campus students at JCU.
7.2. Student fees will generally be collected by the partner institution.
7.3. The Resources Office will be responsible for the invoicing and collection of this income from the partner institution and the internal distribution through the budget process.
8. Ongoing Management
8.1. The Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Committee will receive reports from the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) every semester for the first year and thereafter annually on each of the off-campus programs. These reports shall follow the pro forma shown in Appendix 2.
8.2 Further information may be sought by the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Committee where there are indications that the program in question is falling short of expectations.
9.1. Whilst ongoing liaison with off-campus partner institutions is the responsibility of the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s), in practice this responsibility will be shared with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services and Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance.
10. Quality Assurance
10.1. Off-campus partnerships fall within the remit of AQAA and as such must be based on best practice Quality Assurance principles. Quality Assurance is an issue that must be built into any contractual arrangement. Amongst the mechanisms controlled by the University to address Quality Assurance are:
review of marketing and other promotional materials prior to its use by the partner institution
review of the qualifications of teaching staff
achievement of student and financial targets as identified in the business and academic plan
participation in off-campus programs by JCU academics (e.g. subject coordinators)
marking or moderation of examinations and assignments
regular inspections of off-campus premises
audit of student support services available offshore
audit of teaching materials including IT support and library facilities
Quality Assurance for teaching and learning in off-campus programs require a suitable balance between control of, participation in, and evaluation, of practices:
quality of curriculum, curriculum development, teaching practices, assessment of students and Course Review
quality of staff, including qualifications, recruitment, professional development and scholarly activity
quality of materials and infrastructure for support, including plant such as classrooms and laboratories and related equipment, library, IT support and student services
quality of students, including entry requirements, pre-requisites and equity of selection criteria
quality of graduates, including achievements of outcomes and employment
quality of critique and evaluation, including team approaches, feedback from ~students, peer review and external accreditation
10.2. Articulation from a qualification offered by the partner institution into a JCU degree program requires credit to be granted for the diploma or other qualification in question. Responsibility for approving credit recognition rests with the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s), such approval to be reviewed every three years, and is subject to noting by Academic Board. In granting credit recognition the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) will normally require information on the structure and curriculum of the program, the content of lectures and, where appropriate, laboratory practical and information on assessment and examination. Further information may be sought including sample examination papers and information on equipment and facilities.
10.3. The Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) in liaison, where appropriate, with the Chair, Academic Board, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services and Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance will be responsible for regular on-site reviews of off-campus programs, services and facilities. The business and academic plan for a program shall include a Quality Assurance plan.
11. Internal Distribution of Income
11.1. For the purposes of income distribution, off-campus programs will be treated on a case-by-case basis. The general principle used by the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Committee in determining the allocation of funds will be to ensure that the allocations reflect the relative costs of services provided by different academic and administrative units in the University to the program. The business plan will identify all costs to Schools and Divisions associated with the program. In the early phases of a program the University may adopt a model whereby 80% of income is distributed to the School(s) with the balance (20%) being retained centrally. Thereafter, a model will be implemented that reflects the contributions and costs of different academic and administrative units.
12. JCU Singapore
A licence agreement governs the relationship between JCU and JCU Singapore. This clause outlines the rules of engagement for the University to coordinate its activities with JCU Singapore.
12.1. The University and JCU Singapore will coordinate their marketing activities and actively promote each other’s programs in their marketing materials, and keep each other informed of marketing intentions, activities and outcomes in a timely manner. Where appropriate, JCU and JCU Singapore will identify and promote each other’s campuses as study destinations, and will act as each other’s agent for the purposes of student recruitment (on payment of an agent’s fee).
12.2. The University will identify and promote JCU Singapore as an alternative study destination to Townsville or Cairns for overseas students in appropriate articulated degrees or for students articulating from advanced diplomas or other awards into JCU degrees, particularly where students are unable to obtain a visa for study in Australia, where cost is an issue, or where there are strategic grounds linked, for example, to capacity limits in Australia. Such recruitment is covered by the JCU Singapore Agency Agreement and will incur a 10% agency fee on the first years fee payable to the University. In the longer term students will be directed to campuses in accord with the preferred growth profile of the University and JCU Singapore.
12.3. In determining the role, if any, JCU Singapore might play in the delivery of the University programs, a case will be prepared for each program, for consideration by the Vice-Chancellor. The following principles will guide and inform any decision regarding the involvement of JCUS in an offshore program.
The University will seek to involve JCU Singapore in a program management capacity in those instances where it has the skills or capacity to add value to the proposed arrangements. This management might comprise some or all of the following: marketing, provision of premises, equipment and staff, student enrolment, student support services and other administrative support required for offshore delivery
There will be no single model for JCU Singapore’s involvement. Rather the model and the associated financial arrangements will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Financial arrangements for the involvement of JCU Singapore in the management of an offshore program will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis to reflect the level and types of services provided by JCU Singapore.
No role is envisaged for JCUS in the management of articulated degrees with overseas universities or private colleges except in special circumstances.
Approval by the Vice-Chancellor is required on a case-by-case basis for the involvement of JCU Singapore in the offshore delivery of academic programs by a third party.
12.4. To meet its obligations under the University Licence and Services Agreement:
JCU will regularly inform JCU Singapore of its offshore activities in the Asian region. As part of this process it is expected that JCU Singapore will seek the Vice-Chancellor’s agreement before embarking on the offshore delivery of JCU programs, either alone or in partnership with a third party.
JCU and JCU Singapore will consult with each other to optimise opportunities in the Asian region and develop a coordinated approach via a process that involves the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors.
Implicit in these arrangements is the assumption that consultation between JCU and JCU Singapore will take place at an early stage driven by a common strategic approach to business development.
Appendix 1 - Approval and Management Processes
1. Identifying new off-campus opportunities - Responsibility of Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) in liaison with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services and Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance .
2. Initial due diligence on partner institutions to determine whether to proceed further or not - Responsibility of Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) and, where appropriate, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services and Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance.
3. Negotiations with partner institutions on academic and financial arrangements - Responsibility of Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) in association with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services and Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance with advice on financial and legal matters from the Director, Governance Services & University Secretary.
4. Academic and business plan to be developed - Responsibility of Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) with advice from the Director, Governance Services & University Secretary and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services.
[Central funds may be accessed subject to approval of the Provost to cover costs of negotiations, legal and other professional fees and other costs associated with the development of academic and business plans and contracts.]
5. Academic approval - Responsibility of Academic Board.
6. Decision on whether to proceed - VCAC to advise Vice-Chancellor.
7. Council and Finance Committee approval.
8. Ongoing review of program once established - Responsibility of VCAC.
9. Ongoing liaison with the partner institution and on-site reviews - Responsibility of Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) in association with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services and Manager, Transnational Partnerships & Compliance.
Appendix 2 - Pro forma questions for performance review of off-campus programs
VCAC will receive reports from the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s) every Teaching Period for the first year and thereafter annually on each of the off-campus programs (see clause 9). These reports should address the following questions:
1. Does the program continue to meet the strategic objectives of the University?
2. What are student enrolments and how do these compare with the projections of the Business-Plan?
3. How has the program performed financially (income and expenditure) compared with the projections of the Business Plan?
4. Have all costs of delivery been met as identified in the Business Plan and has payment to the University been prompt and in full?
5. What are the assessment profiles of the program and how have students performed in examinations and other assessments?
6. What evidence, quantitative and otherwise, is there of student satisfaction? What are the results of Student Feedback About Subjects (SFS) or other measures as routinely used by the School(s)?
7. Have student progression rates over time been satisfactory?
8. What evidence is there of adequate infrastructure, including IT and library support?
9. Who teaches the program and what are their qualifications?
10. How have the administrative and support needs of the program been met and paid for?
11. What student services are provided and what evidence is there that these services are-adequate?
12. What evidence is there of regular staff evaluation and where appropriate staff training?
13. What policies and procedures are in place to ensure academic quality?
14. Are there any problems with the program that the VCAC needs to be aware of?
The following performance indicators will also need to be collected annually for AUQA purposes:
Numbers of students
Performance in examinations and other assessments
Appendix 3 - Control Sheet
Appendix 3 – Control Sheet
Related policy instruments
University-Controlled Entities - Procedure for Establishment and Oversight
Non-Controlled Entities - Procedure for the Establishment and Management of the University's Part-Ownership or Significant Interest
Date for next review:
Description of changes
Changes made to reflect headline restructure 30/04/2018.
|Quality, Standards and Policy|
Approval Authority amended to reflect approved Policy and Delegations Framework
Quality Standards and Policy
Policy sponsor amended to reflect approved policy framework
Approved by Academic Board