1.1 This Partnership Arrangement (“the Partnership”) between the Government of Australia (GOA) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) establishes our shared vision to work in close cooperation to achieve improved development outcomes and sustainable improvements in the quality of life of all Pacific islanders through quality tertiary education. Specifically, the Partnership establishes mutual accountability for adding development value for USP island members by providing quality tertiary education and research services, building local capacity, and providing a catalyst for change in the region.
1.2 The USP Strategic Plan 2013-2018 will guide USP’s interactions with GOA during the Partnership.
1.3 The GOA Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Guidance Note: Regional Organisations and Pacific Education and Skills Development Agenda will direct GOA’s interactions with USP during the Partnership.
2.1 The following principles will underpin all aspects of the partnership between GOA and USP.
- Mutual respect, including openness to working together and exploring new opportunities, and resolving through frank and open discussion any issues and challenges that emerge.
- Mutual responsibility and accountability for results in terms of improved education and research outcomes for the region as a whole and for individual Pacific island member states, including through joint, regular and evidence-based review of progress against the objectives and commitments of the Partnership.
- Transparency about the Partnership within GOA and USP, with all USP members, and with other external stakeholders.
- Flexibility to adapt in response to emerging issues and priorities in the Pacific.
2.2 GOA acknowledges the responsibility of USP to account for its policies, programs and resource allocation to the USP Council.
2.3 USP acknowledges the responsibility of GOA to account to its Parliament and people on its contributions to regional development in the Pacific, including those channelled through USP.
3.1 Partnership goal:
Recognising the emerging development challenges facing the Pacific region for the next ten years and beyond, this partnership will position two competent organisations with interests in the development of the region to bring together their respective intellectual and technical capacities and resources to support Pacific island states to maximise their economic and social development potential.
3.2 Partnership objectives:
- USP achieves the high level objectives in its Strategic Plan;
- Improved regional and national engagement by USP; and
- Enhanced USP performance.
4.1 GOA hereby confirms its commitment to:
- Provide USP with effective, efficient and predictable development assistance that supports achievement of Partnership objectives.
- Minimise the administrative burden and maximise the flexibility and opportunities for collaboration of the Partnership.
- Align GOA monitoring and assessment of USP performance as closely as possible with USP’s own performance assessment systems, and support USP to strengthen those systems as required to demonstrate results as specified in its Strategic Plan.
4.2 USP hereby confirms its commitment to:
- Deliver a jointly-determined program of high quality education, research, knowledge sharing and organisational development consistent with its Strategic Plan objectives.
- Advance key policy or investment actions to implement Partnership priorities.
- Optimise its use of Australian development assistance to improve development prospects in member countries.
4.3 Both parties resolve to:
- Build on existing programs and lessons in shaping future Australian support.
- Balance USP governance improvements with service delivery improvements.
- Ensure all joint activities support gender equality and inclusiveness.
- Promote harmonisation and coordinated action with all of USP’s development partners.
- Measure performance and progress of this Partnership using the Performance Assessment Framework at Schedule A.
- Meet regularly on an informal basis, share all relevant information, discuss any performance concerns as early as possible, and resolve any concerns through dialogue.
- Report transparently to USP members, through the USP Council, on the progress of this Partnership.
- PARTNERSHIP PRIORITIES
5.1 GOA and USP will address the following priorities through this Partnership:
- Regional access to and improved outcomes from high quality, internationally recognised tertiary education and research – GOA will support USP plans to increase student numbers, improve completion rates and track employment outcomes from its services; expand its teaching, research output and ICT capacity; increase options for study through distance and flexible modes; and assure the quality of its qualifications.
- Services to support national economic growth and development, and advocacy for Pacific regionalism – GOA will provide support for USP’s continuing efforts to improve the equity of experience between Laucala campus and regional campuses; provide regional leadership in ICT development; facilitate efficient collaboration between national, regional and international tertiary institutions; and produce and disseminate research relevant to national policy-makers.
- Enhanced organisational capability and robust performance assessment and reporting – GOA will support USP’s ongoing reform process to strengthen the full range of capabilities needed for the organisation to function effectively, including plans for a management review, continued reform of human resources management, and to diversify its funding sources for financial sustainability. GOA will assist USP’s efforts to assess and report on the outcomes from its services and its overall performance.
5.2 The parties intend that the scope of this Partnership will remain flexible over its life, able to incorporate a wider range of priority outcomes that may be developed incrementally over time. These may be included in the Partnership during formal Partnership dialogue discussions each year or at other times by mutual agreement.
- GOVERNANCE, MANAGEMENT AND REVIEW
6.1 High Level Consultations (HLC) will take place six-monthly between senior officials of GOA and USP. One meeting each year will be hosted by USP in Suva (around October) and one meeting each year will be hosted by Australia in Canberra (around April). These meetings will:
- Focus on how both parties can utilise their convening power and technical expertise to address complex current and emerging development challenges in the region.
- Ensure joint, regular and evidence-based review of progress and challenges in meeting the priority outcomes specified in the Partnership.
- Identify and build on opportunities for sharing knowledge and technical expertise to the benefit of Pacific islands’ development, including through technical and staff exchanges and enabling USP to engage with other GOA regional programs.
- Confirm annual GOA funding levels and their categorisation (core funding, sector budget support, or project funding), for final endorsement by the USP Council as part of the annual plan.
- Provide the opportunity to make any amendments to this Partnership.
- Regularly review the performance and ongoing value of this Partnership.
6.2 The priority outcomes, targets and indicators in Schedule A provide the basis on which Partnership progress will be monitored by both parties, and reviewed jointly at HLC meetings. As far as possible, these indicators align with existing indicators within the USP Strategic Plan. Performance review by both parties will also take account of the findings of progress reports and reviews undertaken during the Partnership (at activity, sector, corporate, country or regional levels), as well as relevant independent research or other studies.
6.3 Australia’s contribution to Partnership objectives and targets will also be assessed and reported periodically as required by the Australian aid program’s quality processes. Likewise, the alignment of Australian support for USP with GOA’s Pacific education sector priorities will be reviewed periodically. Such reviews will be undertaken in cooperation and consultation with USP.
6.4 All HLC decisions will be recorded and the meeting records made available on request to other interested stakeholders.
6.5 An independent mid-term review of the Partnership will be undertaken in 2016-17, based on jointly agreed terms of reference. This review will examine and report on USP and GOA activities, engagement approaches and performance in terms of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, monitoring and evaluation, sustainability and gender equality.
6.6 Bilateral HLC dialogue will be complemented by annual trilateral consultations involving USP, GOA and the Government of New Zealand. These consultations will discuss and review current and future shared priorities; identify and act on synergies; and identify practical strategies to streamline, harmonise and align donor requirements and USP systems.
6.7 GOA will identify a single focal point for all communications between USP and Australian government stakeholders. USP will identify a single focal point for all communications between Australia and USP stakeholders. This approach will not inhibit appropriate and ongoing collegial exchanges amongst staff and consultants employed by either party, or substitute for program management being undertaken at appropriate levels. It will add value to the relationship by enabling coherence and consistency. It will also provide an initial point of contact to resolve any issues that emerge from the Partnership.
6.8 GOA will establish an information sharing group for Australian government stakeholders engaging with USP, to discuss and reach consensus on GOA priorities and objectives in working with USP. Their discussions will inform the formal policy dialogue at HLC meetings and help bring to light evidence of development outcomes USP is achieving with Australian support.
6.9 USP will continue to have both informal and formal consultations with GOA staff on specific issues. This is an established strength in the coordination of the engagement between GOA and USP.
- LEVELS AND FORMS OF DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE
7.1 Through this Partnership, GOA commits to provide USP with predictable, multi-year financing. This funding will be programmed on a three-year rolling basis for the five-year duration of the Partnership. Funding is subject to positive Partnership progress and appropriation of required funding in Australia’s national budget each year.
7.2 GOA commits to allocate its funding optimally, between core funding, sector budget support and project funding.
7.3 GOA commits further to limit separate project funding and Grant Agreements to activities that:
- Have specific time-bound outputs and outcomes and where an ongoing work program is not planned;
- Address an emerging priority that may or may not become a core service of USP in the longer term; or
- Have uncertainty in relation to ongoing availability of funding.
7.4 GOA will provide USP with access to short-term specialist expertise and research capacity as needed.
7.5 GOA will support USP’s efforts to build a more sustainable, diversified financing structure.
7.6 GOA will support USP’s governance by participating on the USP Council and University Grants Committee and contributing technical expertise as needed to assist these bodies make effective governance decisions.
7.7 These commitments are aimed at reducing transaction costs and increasing opportunities for broader engagement and coherent planning and reporting for both parties. They are also intended to provide USP with the resources it needs for continuous and proactive improvement of its corporate systems.
7.8 USP undertakes to disburse all funds provided by GOA in accordance with the principles, terms and conditions of this Partnership and to take all reasonable steps to achieve and demonstrate value for money, in accordance with sound financial and administrative practice.
7.9 GOA will make payments to USP in the amounts and at the times specified in each separate associated Grant Agreement relating to the Partnership or a particular project.
- SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES
8.1 This Partnership serves only as a record of the Parties’ intentions and does not constitute or create (and is not intended to create) rights or obligations under domestic or international law and will not give rise to any legal process and will not be deemed to constitute or create any legally binding or enforceable rights or obligations (expressed or implied). Consequently, any dispute, controversy, or claim, which arises out of the interpretation or application of this Partnership will not be subject to adjudication or arbitration, but will instead be dealt with through amicable consultations and negotiations as the only method of achieving the peaceful settlement of that dispute, controversy, or claim.
9.1 This Partnership may be amended at any time through an Exchange of Letters signed by the Parties.
- UNDERTAKING TO PREVENT FINANCING OF TERRORISM
10.1 Both Parties are firmly committed to the international fight against terrorism and, in particular, the financing of terrorism consistent with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) regulations relating to terrorism, including UNSC Resolution 1373 (2001), 1267 (1999) and related resolutions.
10.2 Both Parties reaffirm their commitment to the principles of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (New York, 9 December 1999).
10.3 The Parties will cooperate to ensure that no funds under this Partnership are used, directly or indirectly, to provide support to individuals or entities associated with terrorism.
10.4 If, during the term of this Partnership, either Party discovers an organisation or individual involved in the activities under the Partnership is associated with terrorism, it will immediately inform the other Party.
- COMMENCEMENT AND DURATION
This Partnership Arrangement commences on signature by both Parties and continues until 31 March 2019, unless terminated earlier in accordance with this Partnership.
12.1 Either Party may terminate this Partnership Arrangement by giving written notice of its intention to terminate to the other Party. In the event that written notice of termination is given, this Subsidiary Arrangement will terminate three months after the date that the other party receives that notice of the intention to terminate.
13.1 This Partnership brings together the comparative advantages of Australia as a key financing partner, and USP as a Pacific-owned and managed specialist service provider with acknowledged expertise in advancing regional development in the Pacific. It changes the nature of the relationship between the two parties to a partnership that enables change and optimises the potential for effective regional development.