Service teaching policy

Intent and objectives

This policy defines service teaching and describes the negotiations and agreements that are required where service teaching is to be delivered.

The objectives of this policy are to:

  • define what is meant by service teaching
  • articulate the principles that underpin service teaching
  • encourage partnerships that recognise discipline expertise and promote collaborative teaching practices
  • support the negotiation of clearly articulated agreements between discipline areas that meet the needs of all parties
  • specify the mechanisms for dispute resolution


This policy is applicable to all instances of service teaching at RMIT as defined below, in both the Higher Education and TAFE sectors.


There are no exclusions to the policy

Policy provisions

1. Value and Role

A fundamental principle behind service teaching is that it recognizes that intellectual, disciplinary or professional capacity that resides in one academic area of RMIT can be made available to programs offered by other academic areas. It presumes that any one academic unit or sub-unit at RMIT aggregates and contains a body of intellectual, disciplinary or professional ability, expertise and networks. The capacity of one academic unit or sub-unit to provide service teaching to others recognises not only the intellectual, pedagogic and professional value of doing so but also acknowledges the considerable efficiencies and mutual benefits that can be had by doing so.

Service teaching is an important factor in quality teaching and learning where expertise is recognized and valued, and is thus utilized across courses, programs and discipline areas. Service teaching provides students with essential capabilities for practice in their discipline and the development of the breadth of skills and knowledge required to practise in a range of settings. Programs and courses are of the highest quality when they are underpinned by relevant knowledge and skills, regardless of the academic unit or sub-unit where that knowledge and those skills reside.

2. Definition

Service teaching occurs where a course or part of a course (other than a student elective) is taught by a discipline area other than the area that is responsible for the program. Service taught courses are not student electives, nor are they guest lectures. Courses that are core to the disciplines that constitute a double degree are not service taught courses. Service teaching can occur among Colleges or between Schools.

For the purposes of this policy, sub-disciplines that are cognate with a larger overarching discipline may be treated as a single discipline, subject to the prior approval of the Policy and Programs Committee.

3. Policy Principles

The principles that underpin this policy are:

3.1 Recognition of expertise

  • The teaching of a discipline in any program will be undertaken by staff from the academic unit or sub-unit with the relevant discipline expertise.
  • Service teaching arrangements will be made in preference to duplicating courses across academic areas and schools: wherever possible, service teaching arrangements will be negotiated with other disciplines rather than disciplines employing their own specialist (but non-discipline) staff.
  • The discipline providing the service teaching (the contributing discipline) should acknowledge the responsibility of the discipline into which the service teaching is being delivered (the commissioning discipline) to fulfil relevant industry, professional, legal and community expectations about the relevance and quality of its program curriculum and program.

3. 2 Excellence and student focus

  • Service teaching arrangements should be based on consultation and collaboration that results in optimal outcomes for students.
  • In all new course developments and changes to existing courses, relevant staff from both the commissioning and contributing disciplines should collaborate closely and discuss in detail the curriculum, design and teaching of the course.
  • There is a need to ensure “fitness for purpose” in terms of program content, and the learning experience of students. The design, delivery, assessment, administration and evaluation of material delivered through service teaching should be contextualised to provide practical examples of the application to the students’ home discipline.

3.3 Compliance

  • Any TAFE courses delivered through service teaching must be AQTF compliant.
  • In the case of some TAFE cross-industry programs, the teaching/discipline expertise can be determined to reside within the industry-relevant School. Details of such programs, including arrangements for their management and quality assurance, are described at Appendix D to this paper.

3.4 Financial

  • Any service teaching funding model should ensure that there are no financial disincentives for establishing a service teaching relationship either for the service teaching provider or the service teaching commissioner.

The practices as described the Guidelines for the Conduct of Service Teaching in the HE and TAFE Sectors at Appendix B to this policy must be consistent with these principles.

4. Service Teaching Agreements

Where service teaching is to be delivered, an agreement is required which addresses the issues set out in Appendix A to this policy.

Negotiations regarding the terms and details of service teaching agreements should be commenced well ahead of when the service teaching is to be delivered to enable the provider adequate preparation time. These negotiations should be finalised and agreements formalised before the service teaching commences.

Circumstances may arise that lead to a disagreement between the parties to a service teaching arrangement. Such disagreement may relate to the details or delivery of an existing, proposed or revised agreement. Disagreement may also arise regarding the academic unit in which the expertise for a given discipline most appropriately belongs. The Dispute Resolution process presented at Appendix C to this policy should be followed should such a situation arise.

5. Responsibilities

The provision of service teaching places responsibilities on both the commissioning and contributing disciplines. Both parties are responsible for committing to:

  • active communication and collaboration;
  • active involvement in program teams, Student-Staff Consultative Committees, co-teaching where appropriate, such as the application of the content to specific disciplines, responsiveness to issues/problems, review of the course/content;
  • adhering to other RMIT academic policies and processes, such as course guides.

The respective responsibilities of the commissioning and contributing disciplines are articulated in detail in the Guidelines for the Conduct of Service Teaching in the HE and TAFE Sectors, as set out in Appendix B to this policy.

6. Program development and approvals processes

When a School puts forward a program development, renewal, or amendment submission, they are required to:

  • include a statement identifying those courses that will be service taught, and
  • provide evidence that the academic units or sub-units involved have signed off on a current service agreement.

The program approval process requires program proposers to identify courses that overlap with the expertise of other Schools and, where shared courseware is involved, that a service teaching agreement is in place. Proposals must demonstrate that those Schools have been consulted, that the program complies with relevant policies and that the program management process is articulated and covers offshore.

7. Quality assurance

Quality assurance of service teaching will be addressed as part of the relevant program quality assurance process. This should specify all service teaching agreements/arrangements and issues, achievements and actions for improvement. All CES data for all courses in that program should be included in the data to be reviewed in the Program Annual Report.

Service teaching delivery arrangements will be based, evaluated and maintained by evidence of satisfactory teaching.

Quality assurance of TAFE qualifications and skills sets delivered by multiple schools is addressed at Appendix D.

8. Withdrawal from service teaching arrangements

Where it is determined that a reduction in service teaching is required through the program review process or other mechanisms, adequate consultation with the provider must be undertaken.

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