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Quality assurance in the domestic third-party arrangement in Australia

Mahsood Shah (Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)
Choon Boey Lim (Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 30 March 2021

Issue publication date: 6 May 2021




Third-party arrangements where a university offers its degrees in collaboration with another institution are not a new phenomenon, particularly when the third-party arrangements occur in the form of a cross-border education (or widely known as transnational education). Drawing on a critical review of the literature available on quality assurance of domestic third-party arrangements and through the use of interviews with the sessional teaching staff, the paper offers theoretical as well as practical views on the domestic third-party arrangement and seeks to inform key stakeholders in the academic management of such collaboration.


The study was undertaken with 40 sessional academics who are involved in teaching postgraduate courses at several third-party education providers and universities with metropolitan campuses in Australia. Focus group interviews were conducted with 8–10 participants in each group. The qualitative study included seven open-ended questions. Each focus group interview was between 45–60 minutes.


The study found 11 universities in Australia offering courses in third-party arrangement with a focus on international students. Online third-party arrangement is also gaining momentum. The study found the following areas that require attention: induction and professional development, quality assurance arrangements, maintenance of standards, adequacy of resources and infrastructure and risk related to academic quality.

Research limitations/implications

Limited study has been conducted on third-party arrangements where a university, usually located far from the city vicinity, works in a collaborative mode with another institution, primarily a private institution, to offer degrees at metropolitan city areas in the same country. Further research is needed with a large number of participants.


The study is undertaken for the first time in Australia. No research has been undertaken on the growth and quality assurance of a third-party arrangement in Australia and other developed countries. The study involves the engagement of the sessional academic staff.



Shah, M. and Lim, C.B. (2021), "Quality assurance in the domestic third-party arrangement in Australia", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 866-878.



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