The Foreign Arrangements Scheme commenced on 10 December 2020 under Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (‘the Act’). This is administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The purpose of this Scheme is to ensure that arrangements between state or territory governments (and their entities) and foreign entities do not adversely affect Australia's foreign relations and are not inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy.

As well as covering ‘core entities’ such as state and territory governments, departments and agencies, it also covers ‘non-core entities’, including Australian public universities.

Under the Scheme, the University must notify the Minister for Foreign Affairs (‘the Minister’) of any proposal to enter a foreign arrangement if it is with a foreign entity, including foreign governments, government agencies and foreign universities that do not have institutional autonomy.

The Minister may make a declaration prohibiting the University from negotiating or entering the arrangement if satisfied that the negotiation or arrangement:

  • would adversely affect, or would be likely to adversely affect, Australia’s foreign relations; or
  • would be, or would be likely to be, inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.

When an arrangement is subsequently entered into, the Minister must be notified within 14 days of entering that arrangement.

If a non-core arrangement is entered into in contravention of a declaration, the Minister may make a further declaration that the arrangement is invalid and unenforceable, required to be terminated, or not in operation.

For further details on the Foreign Arrangements Scheme, visit

Please see further information below about UniSA’s process for assessing and notifying foreign arrangements, explanations about what an ‘arrangement’ is and how institutional autonomy is defined by DFAT. Useful links include fact sheets and FAQs from DFAT.

Contact UniSA International for any questions:

  • What is an ‘arrangement’? minus-thick plus-thick

    The Act defines an arrangement as ‘any written arrangement, agreement, contract, understanding or undertaking, whether or not it is legally binding and whether or not it is made in Australia’.

    This means that any arrangement made in writing is potentially notifiable. This includes but is not limited to:

    • student exchange agreements
    • study abroad agreements
    • articulation agreements
    • sponsor agreements
    • credit transfer arrangements
    • MoUs
    • joint program agreements (including cotutelle PhD programs)
    • transnational arrangements
    • research agreements
    • contract research agreements
    • grant applications
    • letters of intent
    • deeds
    • contracts
    • joint centres
    • joint conferences
    • joint presentations/workshops
    • copyright agreements

    It also includes any variations to and renewals/extensions of existing or previous arrangements.

    Exemptions to the notification requirement exist in cases where the arrangement deals only with minor administrative or logistical matters, e.g. flights, accommodation, submission of paperwork, visa applications, or the timing of conference sessions, or where variations to an agreement do not alter its substance (e.g. changing the number of students in a student exchange agreement).

    DFAT have also listed credit transfer agreements as falling within this minor administrative matters category, as they deal with recognition of study already conducted and does not address more substantive matters.

  • What is ‘institutional autonomy’? minus-thick plus-thick

    Under the Act, a University does not have institutional autonomy if one or more of the following conditions are satisfied:

    1. a majority of the members of the university’s governing body are required, by a law or the university’s governing documents, to be members or part of (however described) the political party that forms the foreign government;
    2. education provided or research conducted at the university is required, by a law or the university’s governing documents, to adhere to, or be in service of, political principles or political doctrines of:
      1. the foreign government; or
      2. the political party that forms the foreign government;
    3. the university’s academic staff are required, by a law or the university’s governing documents, to adhere to, or be in service of, political principles or political doctrines referred to in paragraph (b) in their teaching, research, discussions, publications or public commentary.

    The Act also covers foreign tertiary education providers that are part of a foreign government (e.g. government military academies).

    Please note that UniSA staff are not required to assess foreign universities with whom they are working for institutional autonomy. This assessment will be carried out for all foreign arrangements by UniSA International.

  • UniSA process for assessing and notifying foreign arrangements minus-thick plus-thick

    Foreign arrangements will be assessed against the Act by the International Relations team within UniSA International, and if assessed as notifiable, will be submitted for the Minister’s consideration via the online notification portal.

    Most international agreements are signed by the Pro Vice Chancellor: International and are, therefore, managed by UniSA International. These agreements will be assessed under the Act during the approvals process. For more information on the approvals process for these agreements or to submit an agreement request, go to the International Agreements webpage.

    Research agreements will continue to be handled as usual through Research and Innovation Services (RIS). RIS will coordinate with UniSA International regarding the assessment and notification process for relevant research agreements.

    For all other arrangements involving a foreign entity, a draft of the arrangement* must be submitted to International Relations by emailiing the International Relations team prior to the arrangement being finalised

    International Relations will assess the prospective arrangement under the Act, and if the arrangement is assessed as notifiable, will notify the Minister of the prospective arrangement.

    You will then be informed that the prospective arrangement has been notified and you will be asked to provide a finalised and, if applicable, fully executed copy of the arrangement within 10 days of its being finalised.

    * UniSA International manages the following international agreements:

    • MoUs
    • Articulation Agreements
    • Student Exchange Agreements
    • Study Abroad Agreements
    • Transnational Agreements
    • Sponsor Agreements

    Any other international arrangements should go through the relevant approvals process for that arrangement type before a draft is prepared and submitted to UniSA International.

    Please contact the UniSA International Relations team for any questions.


  • Useful links minus-thick plus-thick