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Office of Global Affairs

International agreements

To promote international cooperation in teaching, research and other fields of mutual interest, the UW has formal partnerships with many non-U.S. universities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. UW agreement sponsors should become familiar with our policies and procedures before committing to any form of international partnership.

Proposal and approval process

Follow this process when initiating new agreements to ensure appropriate support for the planned activity.

Step 1

  • Discuss the initiative with your chair and/or dean. Learn about departmental or college policies for international collaborations and confirm their support.
  • Graduate School review is required for all formalized international collaborations involving a graduate degree or certificate program.

Step 2

  • Submit the agreement proposal to the Office of Global Affairs (OGA) at using the agreement proposal form. If your proposal includes reciprocal student exchange with a university outside the U.S., also submit the student exchange supplement.
  • Include as attachments any relevant drafts or documents.
  • We strongly encourage the use of the UW agreement templates. Using alternate formats will significantly increase the time required to conclude the agreement. OGA can provide copies of UW templates.
  • OGA will respond within 10 business days. Incomplete agreement proposals will not be reviewed. If there are any additional requirements, OGA will provide additional instructions to the agreement sponsor.

Step 3

  • OGA will provide a draft agreement created using a template approved by the UW Office of the Attorney General.

Step 4

  • Agreement terms are negotiated. The UW agreement sponsor shares the draft with the collaborating institution, which may propose edits.
  • Changes to the UW agreement templates should be clearly marked in the draft and must be approved by OGA before signing. Depending on type of agreement, other approvals may also be required prior to signing.

Step 5

  • Following approval of the draft, the institutional authorities named in the agreement print and sign two original copies of the agreement (more if specified).
  • One copy of the fully executed agreement remains with the partner institution; the other is held by the UW sponsoring department.

Step 6

  • Scan all pages of the fully executed agreement and email to OGA will add the document to the central agreements database.

Types of international agreements

Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs)

  • General statements of mutual interest to explore opportunities for collaboration
  • Explicitly non-binding and do not allow for commitment of university funds, staff, facilities, or other university resources

International Agreements

  • Formal contracts that detail the terms and conditions of specific forms of collaboration
  • Legal and binding on both parties
  • Necessary when there is a commitment of university resources including funds, staff, facilities, or other UW assets

Examples of activities requiring formal agreements

  • International student and faculty exchange
  • Joint research
  • Collaborative degree programs


How long will the agreement negotiation and approval process take?

Timeline depends on agreement complexity, whether UW templates are used, and the number and significance of changes proposed by the partner institution.

Average turnaround times:

  • UW templates used, minimal changes to terms: 2 to 4 weeks
  • Other templates are used or significant changes proposed: 6 to 36 weeks

What if the collaborating institution wants to use its template instead of the UW template?

UW strongly encourages use of our templates for all international agreements. Alternative templates may be proposed, but may or may not be acceptable without significant revision. All non-UW templates must be closely reviewed, commented on, and approved by the Office of the Attorney General. This can result in significant delays.

Can MOUs be binding?

  • The UW MOU template is explicitly non-binding.
  • Other MOUs can and often do include binding language which might unknowingly obligate the UW and lead to unintended consequences.
  • It is imperative that all MOUs receive OGA approval prior to signing.

Who is eligible to submit a partnership agreement proposal to OGA through this process?

Agreement proposals can be submitted by any UW faculty or departmental administrator with the support of their Dean or Chair.

Who at the UW must sign international agreements and what is the process for securing required signatures?

  • Departmental agreements: Chair, Dean, and Vice Provost of Global Affairs
  • College/School agreements: Dean and Vice Provost of Global Affairs

After signature by the Chair or Dean, submit both copies to OGA. After signature by the Vice Provost, both copies will be returned to the sponsoring department.

How long are agreements valid?

Depending on the agreement type and whether it is a new partnership or extension of an existing partnership, most agreements are valid for 3-5 years.

What is the process for renewing or terminating a partnership?

To renew a partnership, complete the agreement proposal form and submit to OGA. The renewal proposal process is the same as that for new agreements. If the partnership has worked well and the terms of the original agreement remain current with limited or no revisions required, the timeline for approval is fairly short.

Each agreement has a termination clause which specifies the process and notification requirements for terminating an agreement. If there is a decision to terminate an active agreement prior to its natural expiration, contact the OGA for guidance:

For research agreements, should I work with OGA or the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)?

Agreements between the UW and international entities expressing intent and goodwill to work together in broadly described areas of research and/or academia are handled by OGA.  Agreements should not include terms that purport to bind the UW to commitment of resources, specific measurable effort of faculty or other UW staff, space, or detailed statements of work. If any of the following appear in an agreement, it should be routed to Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) on an eGC1:
  • Intellectual Property ownership or licensing terms
  • Confidentiality terms which infers there is sharing of information, data, technology, business proprietary, human subjects or other sensitive data
  • Risk Management clauses, related to insurance, indemnification or warranties:  This represents a liability and responsibility that the University may be taking on, which infers some type of activity or specific project is being carried out
  • Pricing or payment terms
  • Deliverables required, including technical reports
  • A specific scope of work is included
  • Publication limitations

Where can I find information about external funding policies and procedures?

Grants Information Memorandum (GIM) 34 describes the UW’s policies and standards for classifying external support as either a sponsored program or a gift, as well as UW procedures for accepting and processing such funds.

What if there is a dispute about the terms of agreement?

If there is a dispute about the terms agreement or a breach of contract, contact the Office of the Attorney General to discuss options for recourse.