CAUL Principles and Guidelines for Library Services to Staff and Students at Remote Locations

Topics CAUL Business

1. Context

The following principles and guidelines have been developed as an aid for Australian university librarians providing services to staff and students enrolled at Australian universities at remote locations where arrangements might include:

1.1 direct teaching at an institution remote to the home institution

1.2 partnering with an educational institution to teach an Australian university course

1.3 a commercial partnership with an agent to teach an Australian university course;

1.4 a fully-owned and run campus of an Australian university remote to the home campus.

​2. Quality Assurance

The importance of quality assurance for national and transnational education[1], and hence of services to these students, is recognised by:

2.1 The Australian government, through Australian Education International, requires that registered education providers must have and implement policies and procedures to ensure their staffing and resources (which specifically include library resources) are adequate and have the capabilities as required by the quality assurance framework applying to the course. Where the course is not subject to an appropriate quality assurance framework, the registered provider must ensure it has adequate resources as are needed to deliver the course to the students enrolled and ensure that the resources and premises are sufficient to support students to achieve their course outcomes.

            ESOS Legislative Framework, National code Part D, Explanatory guide for Standard 14

            Department of Education and Training; international education

2.2 The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is Australia’s regulatory and quality agency for higher education. In the Information Paper TEQSA’s approach to regulating the offshore provision of regulated HE awards, TEQSA requires the application of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) to the provision of offshore Higher Education Awards. TEQSA has also published a Guidance Note: Information Resources to explain how TEQSA addresses the requirements in the Threshold Standards that relate to information resources, including library and learning resources.

            Information paper: TEQSA's approach to regulating the offshore provision of regulated HE awards

            Higher Education Standards Framework (threshold Standards) 2015

            TEQSA Guidance Note: Information Resources

2.3 The Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) encourages library quality assurance through mechanisms such as client satisfaction surveys, benchmarking and a range of best practice measures. These Principles and Guidelines aim to provide assistance to Australian universities in ensuring the provision of quality library resources and services to all students of the university regardless of location.

3. Definitions

3.1 Definition of Students at Remote Locations

A student at a remote location is a student who is enrolled in an Australian higher education course and who is undertaking study with the home university’s staff or with local staff employed by, or employed in consultation with, the home university, but who is at a location remote to the home campus of the university. The remote location may be operated by the university or by a partner on behalf of the university and typically in a different city, state or country to the location of the home university. The distance is such that students and staff cannot be expected to travel to the home institution to obtain services.

3.2 Definition of Staff at Remote Locations

Staff at remote locations are staff who provide teaching and support services to students at remote locations.  Staff at a remote location may be:

  1. employed directly by the home institution;
  2. employed by a contractor of the home institution or partner;
  3. employed by the host institution;
  4. employed on an ongoing or contractual basis.

3.3 Distinction between Students at Remote Locations  and Distance Education Students

Distance Education Students are considered to be students (based onshore or offshore) who do not require on-campus attendance (except perhaps for block work). Library services and information resources for Distance Education Students are provided directly by the home institution, and are not covered by these guidelines.

4. Principles for Providing Library Services to Students at Remote Locations

4.1 Students at remote locations will have access to core library services and information resources to support their learning and research.

4.2 Students at remote locations will be authenticated for remote access to a range of library services and information resources arranged by the home institution.

4.3 Appropriate access to the home library’s services and information resources will be made available to staff at remote locations to support teaching, learning and research.

4.4 The home institution’s planning, accreditation, quality assurance, and decision-making processes will take into account the requirements for students at remote locations to access library information resources and services.

4.5 The cost of providing library services, information resources, learning spaces and support facilities to students at remote locations and the staff supporting them, shall be recognised in university budget allocations, costing models and partner agreements.

4.6 Students at remote locations will have access to the learning support spaces and facilities, including technology, required to support their learning;

5. Guidelines for Providing Library Services to Students at Remote Locations         

5.1 Planning

  1. A Library Impact Statement (see example Appendix 1) should be completed as part of the formal university planning, accreditation, quality assurance and implementation process for all courses delivered at remote locations.
  2. The Library Impact Statement should be considered prior to finalisation of agreements with partners.
  3. Student computing environments, including support for BYO devices, should meet minimum technical specifications which enable students at remote locations to access home library electronic services and information resources.
  4. The home institution or partner should ensure access to internet-enabled computers with bandwidth suitable for accessing home institution electronic library services and information resources. Filters or other restrictions should not prevent access to teaching materials and resources necessary to support the course.
  5. The Library should confirm whether proposed locally provided library services and resources are adequate for cohorts of students and academic program/s at remote locations.
  6. The Library may facilitate agreements with local library providers to provide adequate services and information resources for students at remote locations. 
  7. Agreements with partners should include the provision of library services, resources and spaces. The agreement should clearly identify responsibilities and quality assurance processes.

5.2 Funding

The cost of providing library services and information resources to students and staff at remote locations should be recognised in partner agreements based on consultation with the library to determine costing models and funding disbursements.

  1. The Library should receive adequate funding for services and information resources provided at remote locations.
  2. Specific charges may need to be negotiated for additional services, e.g. creation of a learning centre/library for a print collection and additional licence costs for remote locations.
  3. Payments to local library providers may be necessary to ensure access and borrowing privileges for students and staff at remote locations.

5.3 Library Services and Information Resources

The Library will ensure access to adequate levels of service and information resources for students and staff at remote locations. Library staff at the home institution may need to liaise with library providers at remote locations to facilitate access to library services and information resources. If physical collections are to be provided, consultation with academic staff regarding development of those collections may be required.

5.3.1 Services and Resources include:  Licence agreements for electronic information resources will include access for enrolled students and staff at remote locations  Access to a range of appropriate library information communication services (e.g. phone, postal, email, web), including a help service which provides assistance with passwords, access and guidance in the selection and use of resources.  Access to library training programs delivering research, academic and digital literacy skills which may be online, interactive, face-to-face etc.  Access to a document delivery service for designated cohorts of students and staff, equivalent to that provided to home campus students and staff.  Advice and training for staff at remote locations on library services and information resources available prior to programs being offered, including information literacy training for academics to enable them to assist students at remote locations.  Feedback mechanisms and quality assurance processes to monitor the quality and appropriateness of the library services and information resources available to students and staff at remote locations.  Where library services and spaces are provided by a remote provider, the home institution in association with the library will strive to ensure that they meet the minimum standards provided to home campus students.  Where services specific to cohorts of students and staff at remote locations are provided, these must be clearly communicated to students through the home institution library’s website and other communication mechanisms.  Access to physical collections sufficient to meet the core reading requirements of courses offered to students at remote locations.

             Access to learning support spaces, physical facilities and technology sufficient to meet the core support requirements of courses offered to students at remote locations

             Access to the appropriate range of electronic information resources provided to home campus students; including electronic journals, ebooks and databases, e-reserve articles, past examination papers, lecture notes etc.

6. Related CAUL Documents/Links

University Libraries of Australia and New Zealand (ULANZ): a national borrowing scheme for students and staff - Procedures & Protocols: ULANZ (University Libraries of Australia and New Zealand)

Quality assurance - client satisfaction: Client Satisfaction & Customer Surveys

Quality assurance - performance indicators: Performance Indicators (NOTE: The CAUL Principles and Guidelines for Australian Higher Education Libraries, when approved, will replace this document).


Appendix 1



This form should be completed by the course / program coordinators, in consultation with the Library, for any proposed course being taught or research activity being undertaken at Remote Locations.


1. Details of existing collections in print and electronic, available for students that would support the proposed course or research activity.

2. Is there an agreement in place with a local educational institution to facilitate library access for students at a remote location?  What services and resources does it cover? 

3. What are the resources required at the remote location, not currently available?

Estimated cost to Faculty/School supplying resources.

4. Do the students have access to computer facilities? What computer facilities are available?

5. Do the students have internet access adequate to access learning support resources and services provided by the home library?

6. What study areas are available for students?  e.g. for private study, group study silent study, internet access, etc



1. Will students and academic staff need access to home library e-reserve and electronic databases (subject to licence agreements)?

2. How will students and academic staff receive support from the home institution library or the partner/institution?

3. Will academic staff and/or students require access to document delivery services from the home library?


1. Outcome of consultation with Library (including any Library cost implications)



[1] Good Practice in Offshore Delivery; A guide for Australian Providers. Prepared by the International Education Association of Australia for the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. June 2008 Page 1.


Download a copy of the guidance (.docx).

Author Cicy Zheng
Last modified 10 July 2020