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Category Administration and Management
Type Policy
Approved by University of Otago Council, 11 October 2021
Date Policy Took Effect 11 October 2021
Last approved revision 
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement)
Responsible officer Co-ordinator International Partnerships


The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for establishing partnership arrangements with institutions outside of New Zealand.

Organisational scope

This policy applies to the whole University.

This policy applies to the range of activities, which occur when developing the University of Otago's international partnerships, including:

  • letters of intent
  • memorandums of understanding
  • student exchanges
  • study abroad
  • articulation agreements
  • visiting student/staff arrangements (both inbound and outbound)
  • and any hybrid of the above


Letter of intent (LOI)
A letter, which is requested from, approved and signed by the Director International (or nominee), used to introduce and confirm a nominated person's authority to discuss partnership opportunities.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
A non-legally binding agreement signed by the University of Otago and an international partner(s), which recognises and details the extent of the relationship between stated entities. The focus is usually strategic in nature and signals the areas for potential development of new and legally binding partnership arrangements. Usually, an MOU would be established prior to, or as part of, the development of any new, legally binding partnership agreement.
Student Exchange Agreement (SEA)
A legally binding agreement, which applies to both outbound and inbound students who pay standard tuition fees to their home university, but study elsewhere to receive credits towards their qualification from a partner institution.
Study Abroad Agreement (SAA)
A legally binding agreement, which applies to inbound students who enrol for one or two semesters. Arrangements are made with their home institution or a Study Abroad placement organisation.
Articulation Agreements (AA)
Arise when two (or more) institutions agree to specify the transfer of credits within a specific academic discipline and qualification. Such agreements are legally binding, high risk and are required in order to clearly articulate for students, academics and administrators how a qualification may be awarded when papers have been completed across two or more institutions.
Advanced Standing Arrangements (ASA)
A legally binding agreement, of lower risk, that specifies a clear pathway for entry into a specific UO discipline/programme. These usually relate to prerequisites and other conditions of admission to a programme. These agreements may be entered into with the support of the International Office and with the approval of the academic owner.
Agent Agreements (AGA)
A legally binding agreement with a focus on international student recruitment. These agreements are enacted when signed by the Agency representative and the Director, International Office (who has delegated authority from the Chief Operating Officer).
Inbound visiting student arrangements
A formal written agreement is optional. These arrangements are covered under the Visiting Students Policy and may be informal.
Outbound visiting student arrangements
A formal written agreement is optional and depends upon the circumstances.
Outbound visiting staff
Arrangements are covered in the Field and Off-Campus Activities Policy. A formal written partnership agreement is optional.


1. Preliminaries

  1. It is important:
    1. to ensure that the University of Otago enters into strategically appropriate arrangements with approved partners/institutions only, in accordance with University academic policies and standards,
    2. that its actions conform to the requirements of Committee on University Academic Programmes ( CUAP ), and
    3. that its actions conform to the requirements of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority ( NZQA ), and
    4. that its actions conform to the requirements of the Tertiary Education Commission ( TEC ).

2. Nature of international institutional partnerships

  1. (a) Ideally, the University's partnerships with international institutions will be underpinned with a formal partnership agreement, such as an MOU . Thereafter, more complex collaborations and legally binding agreements with be detailed separately. For example, an articulation agreement will be required in all cases where another institution is actively involved in the teaching of at least one paper and/or programme which will lead to an award of this University.
  2. (b) The Strategy, Analytics and Reporting Office of the University of Otago provides guidance on the TEC requirements in respect of partnership arrangements.

3. Principles and fundamental requirements

It is expected that any agreement made between the University of Otago and an international partner will conform to the following principles.

  1. Principles of partnership
    1. The University of Otago will collaborate with international partner institutions, approved by Senate (except for Agent Agreements) to achieve strategic priorities, in a manner that meets the standards set and expected by the students and staff of the University of Otago.
    2. The University of Otago will support partnerships agreements with institutions on a case by case basis.
    3. The University of Otago retains control over programmes offered in its name.
    4. University of Otago's papers and programmes are subject to quality assurance processes, assessment policies, teaching and learning polices, are taught by persons approved by the University of Otago and are subject to academic directions set by the University of Otago.
    5. The University of Otago will not regard as its own those papers and programmes of study offered and taught by a partner institution.
    6. Any international partnership arrangement requires the University of Otago to fulfil its obligations under the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice, for all enrolled students paying international fees.
  2. Academic requirements of an international agreement, including articulation agreements.
    1. Where a programme of study offered by another institution leads to a University of Otago qualification, it must be of a standard and quality equivalent to that offered by the University itself. The University of Otago will ensure the equivalence of the standards and quality, via its usual internal quality assurance processes and any other monitoring process that may be required.
    2. Where a University of Otago programme of study is offered by another institution, the University will require evidence that it can be, is being, and continues to be delivered at a standard and quality equivalent to that offered by the University of Otago itself. The University of Otago will establish monitoring processes to ensure that this is the case.
  3. Other requirements of partnership
    1. Proposals for partnership arrangements must demonstrate relevance to the University of Otago's strategic goals and objectives and must be seen to enhance the University of Otago's reputation nationally and internationally.
    2. All partnership proposals must comply with national codes and legislation, and all relevant regulatory requirements affecting both the University of Otago and the partner organisation. This includes CUAP approval, NZQA requirements and any other relevant, external accreditation processes.
    3. All partnership proposals must conform to the procedures established within the University of Otago at all levels and meet the same criteria for approval.
    4. All partnership proposals must conform to the relevant requirements of the TEC .
    5. All partnership proposals, involving the admission and enrolment of international students, must outline the arrangements for claiming funding and student fees and any other payments, and these must be consistent with the relevant University of Otago requirements.

4. Process

The process to establish and formalise a new/renew an international partnership agreement is similar for all formal agreement types, except Letters of Intent (which may simply be requested and approved, signed by the Director International or nominee).

  1. The staff member proposing the new partnership arrangement will complete the appropriate proposal form, and
  2. The individual proposal form will be completed as required.
    1. In relation to the partner(s), consideration is given to the following:
      • The academic credibility of the proposed partner.
      • The financial viability of the proposed partner.
      • Student support and welfare, and
      • grievance/dispute resolution procedures available in the partner institution.
    2. In relation to the partnership, consideration is given to the following and will be reflected in the resultant formal written agreement, where applicable:
      • The management structures and roles and responsibilities of all partners.
      • Costing and fee details including fee split, management fees or royalty payment, responsibility for covering expenses/loss etc. (All direct and indirect and overhead costs must normally be covered by revenue from the programme.)
      • Responsibility for marketing, advertising etc., including the use of logos (i.e. joint badging for marketing purposes).
      • The extent to which the University of Otago academic and/or professional staff will or will not provide support to students enrolled at the partner institution.
      • Whether or not teaching staff at the partner institution are to be regarded as University of Otago staff.
      • Ways in which University of Otago and third-party intellectual property will be protected to ensure that all copyright issues have been addressed.
      • Arrangements where appropriate to charge third party licence provisions especially those relating to Library and/or IT resources.
      • The quality assurance and risk management processes to be applied during the term of the relationship with a partner, including a predefined review period and a termination clause.
      • A plan indicating at what stage students will be admitted and enrolled at the University of Otago. (In some cases, students may be admitted and enrolled at the partner institution on the understanding that credit will be given toward the University of Otago degree. This is an articulation arrangement.)
      • The status of the partnership regarding any relevant TEC requirements.
    3. Partnership Proposals will be subject to Divisional committee approval processes before being submitted to the University's Internationalisation Committee for recommendation to Senate.
  3. With regard to Articulation Agreements:
    1. A proposal for a new Articulation Agreement must have the support of the appropriate Divisional Board and/or approval of the Pro Vice-Chancellor. Furthermore, should the Pro Vice-Chancellor or Internationalisation Committee require, the proposal may be forwarded to the Board of Undergraduate Studies or Board of Graduate Studies for further consideration.
    2. Once established, all Articulation Agreements will undergo regular review. A process, similar to that of the Annual Progress Reports for new papers/programmes, will be applied as a measure of a quality control. Furthermore, articulation agreements should be reviewed whenever there is significant change by either institution. However, minor changes, e.g. a change in paper title, may simply be updated in Schedule 1 of the Agreement and communicated accordingly between the partners. The International Office should be advised whenever there is a change to an Agreement.
    3. Articulation Agreements may be formed for an Undergraduate or Postgraduate programme, with adherence to the rules and regulations of the University of Otago.
  4. The wording of a new partnership agreement is developed through negotiation with the partner(s).
  5. Following approval of the Proposal by Council, the formal partnership agreement will be prepared for the Vice-Chancellor (or delegated nominee) to sign, with support from relevant staff in the International Office. A similar approval process will be used for the signing of renewed or reviewed partnership agreements.
  6. The agreement must be signed by all the parties concerned, before the partnership is recognised and implemented. The process for obtaining signatures will have the oversight of the Internationalisation Committee.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the

Senior Strategy and Policy Adviser
External Engagement

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