Important Agreement Considerations
Before initiating a new MOU or other type of international agreement, VCU faculty and administrators are asked to first carefully consider the following questions:
Questions to Consider in Developing a Memorandum of Understanding or Specific Agreement:
- What is the current level of student activity with this partner?
- What is the current level of student interest in this region or country?
- What is the estimated number of students that will be eligible on a regular, long-term basis to participate in the proposed program?
- Is there interest in this activity from multiple units or colleges?
- What is the proposed partner's commitment to sending enough student to balance an exchange?
- What is the current level of faculty activity with this partner?
- Are a significant number of faculty in the particular department or college support this partnership?
- Are faculty in other departments or colleges interested in this partnership?
Overlap with existing partnerships:
- Does the proposed partnership compete with similar partnerships for students and faculty?
- Does the proposed partnership address a gap in existing partnerships?
- How does the proposed partnership leverage existing partnerships or institutional strengths?
Partner institutional capacity:
- Does the proposed partner institution have a comparable reputation?
- If not overall, are the reputations of specific programs compatible?
- Is the partner's mission compatible with VCU?
- Does the partner's curriculum match the VCU's needs?
- Is the partner's academic calendar compatible with VCU?
- What is the language of instruction? Is there language support?
- Does the partner have similar research interests/strengths?
- Does the partner have an established administrative office to facilitate the agreement?
- Are there significant safety concerns?
- Is the planned activity legal for both partners to undertake?
- Will the department, college, or other participating party commit resources to the agreement?
- What resources is the partner offering?
- What external sources of support are available?
- What are the cost advantages of developing this partnership?
- Which of the following are available for support of this partnership: Faculty release time; travel for site visits; accommodations for visiting scholars; aid for study abroad students; special projects or collaborations?
Outcomes and expected level of activity:
- What are the first activities for this partnership that build understanding at lower cost and risk?
- What is a reasonable level of activity for this fully developed partnership?
- Who is the VCU faculty member willing to sponsor the partner agreement?
- What is the term for review of the agreement?
- What are the activity-based metrics that will be used to evaluate this partnership?
As a general rule, if any of the following elements is lacking, an agreement or MOU should not be signed:
- Some previous faculty interaction between the proposed partner institutions;
- Strong potential for mutual benefit;
- Compliance with applicable legal restrictions and University regulations;
- Committed financial and infrastructure support (as necessary);
- Identified on-site coordinators or contact persons at each institution;
- Stated support from all colleges, departments and programs explicitly implicated in the contemplated agreement; and
- A plan for regular program evaluation and renewal.
Process of Developing an International Partnership Agreement (or Memorandum of Understanding)
- An agreement may be initiated by a department, college, or other academic unit by completing the New International Partnership Agreement Form
- The initiating academic unit requests approval of the Form from the initiating Department Chair (if any) and Dean
- Dean forwards the signed Form to the Global Education Office (ATTN: Strategic Initiatives)
- GEO provides guidance to the initiating unit in drafting a written agreement in consultation with stakeholders and intended potential partner
- Draft written agreement receives approval from the Dean
- GEO circulates agreement to collect modifications and approvals from the appropriate offices (e.g., General Counsel, Finance, Technology Transfer), as needed based on the specific details of each agreement
- The approved document is shared with initiators and international partner(s)
- Final approved version of the agreement is reviewed by the Provost's Global Advisory Council, which forwards a recommendation to the Provost, who makes the final decision. Other signatories, including deans and department chairs, may be included
- GEO provides electronic and/or original signed agreements to the initiating academic unit and international partner/s
- One original, signed document is kept by the Global Education Office and another is kept by the partner institution. Initiating and participating departments and colleges may also keep an original or copy on file. The Global Education Office maintains a database of all formal partnerships and is responsible for sending a reminder to the designated VCU contact for each international agreement or MOU before it is due to expire.
- Additional agreements may be appended to the original MOU or other international agreement and, depending on their nature, the Provost and other parties may be required to sign these addenda.
- The designated VCU contact for the international agreement will be required to submit a brief annual report to the Global Education Office summarizing activities completed under the terms of the MOU or other international agreement.
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