Foreign Arrangements Scheme

This page provides an overview of the Foreign Arrangements Scheme (FAS) and how it applies to University made arrangements.

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  • What is the Foreign Arrangements Scheme (FAS)?

    The Foreign Arrangements Scheme establishes a formal notification process that applies to all Australian public universities. The Scheme is established by the Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (Cth) (the Act). Public universities are included in the definition of “State/Territory entities” along with all Australian State, Territory and local governments.

    The Foreign Arrangements Scheme legislative summary diagram provides an overview of the operation of the Scheme.

  • What is the purpose of FAS?

    The purpose of the Act is to protect and manage Australia’s foreign relations. The FAS is the statutory notification and assessment process managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to support compliance with the Act.

  • What is a foreign arrangement?

    A foreign arrangement is a written agreement, contract, understanding or undertaking between an Australian State/Territory entity and a foreign entity, whether or not there are any other parties to the arrangement or whether it is legally binding or not.

  • What is a foreign entity?

    A foreign entity is defined by the Act to include foreign governments and related public institutions, including universities. A full description is provided in page 2 of the FAS due diligence explainer.

  • What does the University have to do?

    The University must notify the Minister of Foreign Affairs that it: 1. proposes to enter and 2. it has entered into an arrangement with a foreign entity. This means that the University must generally make 2 notifications: 1. When an arrangement is certain but before it has been finalised (e.g., terms are being agreed); and 2. once the arrangement has been finalised (e.g., an agreement has been signed by the parties). An arrangement that has been finalised must be notified within 14 days.

    An arrangement between the University and a foreign entity is defined under the Scheme as a “non-core” foreign arrangement. This is different from a “core” foreign arrangement which involves an Australian government entity and a foreign entity. It is possible that the University could be involved in a “core” foreign arrangement if, for example, the SA Government is a party. You should seek further advice about the obligations that may apply to multi-party or multi-agreement arrangements.

  • Who is authorised to make a notification for the University?

    Global Engagement is authorised to make notifications on behalf of the University. You must contact Global Engagement about any arrangements made with foreign entities (as identified in page 2 of the FAS due diligence explainer). Global Engagement is currently developing procedures that will integrate FAS compliance into existing processes.

  • What happens after a notification is made?

    Once lodged, an arrangement will be listed on a public register. The Act also authorises the Minister for Foreign Affairs to determine whether an arrangement is compatible with Australia’s foreign relations and policy. The Minister may declare an arrangement to be invalid and unenforceable or that it must be altered or terminated. If such a declaration is made, the Minister will write to the University. If an entity fails to notify an arrangement, a court injunction may be sought to stop the arrangement.

    Given the possibility that an arrangement may be disallowed, special contract clauses should be included in relevant agreements. Standard form contracts will be updated soon. Should a negative declaration be made, the consequences for any subsidiary (secondary) arrangements that have been made under the auspices of the foreign arrangement will need to be considered. An arrangement is subsidiary to a foreign arrangement if it has been anticipated by, or supports the implementation of, that arrangement.

  • When does the Scheme start?

    From Wednesday 10 March 2021, all new foreign arrangements must be notified. A 14-day notification deadline applies once an arrangement has been finalised. All other existing foreign arrangements across the University must be identified and notified before Thursday 10 June 2021.

  • What do I need to do?

    To determine whether your arrangement will need to be notified, you must conduct and document a due diligence assessment based on the legislated definition of a foreign entity. This definition includes foreign governments, public agencies established by foreign governments and foreign universities substantially controlled by foreign governments.

    Page 2 of the FAS due diligence explainer sets out the legislative criteria and should be referred to in completing your assessment. If the foreign entity meets any of the criteria listed your arrangement must be notified.

  • Where can I get further advice?

    If you have a foreign arrangement, contact Global Engagement for support and further details about the University’s notification procedures. Further information about the Scheme, including FAQs and Factsheets can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.


Other foreign compliance obligations

The Foreign Arrangements Scheme is one of a number of compliance obligations that may apply to University arrangements with foreign entities or individuals – for more information about other requirements you may need to observe, refer to: