Office of Global Affairs
To promote international cooperation in teaching, research and other fields of mutual interest, the University of Washington has formal partnerships with many universities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations operating outside the United States.
UW agreement sponsors should become familiar with UW policies and procedures regarding international agreements 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.
- Discuss the initiative with your Department Chair and/or Dean to learn about any applicable internal departmental or college policies for international collaborations and confirm departmental/college support for the initiative.
- Submit the agreement proposal to the Office of Global Affairs (OGA) at firstname.lastname@example.org using the MOU cover sheet.
- Include as attachments any relevant drafts or documents. Please note that we strongly encourage the use of the UW templates only. Using alternate formats will significantly increase the amount of time required to conclude the agreement. For copies of UW templates, please contact Cameron Frisch at email@example.com.
- Incomplete agreement proposals will not be reviewed. OGA will respond within 10 business days.
- OGA provides a draft agreement to UW sponsors, created using a UW template approved by the Office of the Attorney General.
- Agreement terms are negotiated. The UW agreement sponsor shares the draft with the collaborating institution, which may propose edits.
- Changes to the UW template should be clearly marked in the draft and must be approved by OGA before signing.
- 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 for its records.
- Scan all pages of the fully executed agreement and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. UW MOUs are explicitly non-binding and do not allow for commitment of university funds, staff, facilities, or other university resources.
Formal contracts that detail the terms and conditions of specific forms of collaboration and are legal and binding on both parties. UW International Agreements are necessary whenever there is a commitment of university resources including funds, staff, facilities, or other UW assets.
Examples of activities requiring formal agreements include:
- international student and faculty exchange
- joint research
- collaborative degree programs
How long will the agreement negotiation and approval process take?
The time required to conclude an agreement depends on its complexity, whether or not UW templates are used, and the number and/or significance of changes proposed by the partner institution. In general, the average turnaround if:
- UW templates are used with minimal changes to terms: 2-4 weeks
- Other templates are used or significant changes proposed: 6-36 weeks
What if the collaborating institution wants to use its template instead of the UW template?
UW strongly encourages use of its 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 a MOU be binding?
The UW MOU template is explicitly non-binding. Nevertheless, other MOUs can and often do include binding language which might unknowingly obligate the UW and lead to unintended consequences. For this reason, it is imperative that all MOUs receive OGA approval prior to signing.
Who is eligible to submit a partnership 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 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: email@example.com.
For research agreements, should I work with the Office of Global Affairs or the Office of Sponsored Programs?
For general international MOUs, contact OGA. For contracts, grants, and collaboration agreements involving the transfer and management of funds, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs.
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.