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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 review OGA policies and procedures before committing to any form of international partnership.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

  • 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

  • General MOUs supporting global initiatives and partnerships
  • Joint centers or research agreements that are not part of a sponsored project or program
  • Fee-based international academic services contracts that are not part of a sponsored project or gift.
  • Student and faculty exchange agreements
  • Study abroad program provider or service provider agreements
  • International dual degree and dual certificate program agreements
  • UW Rome Center and UW Leon Center agreements

Other forms of agreement

For guidance and support for international agreements not handled by OGA, including sponsored projects or programs, refer to the Agreement Types Decision Table.

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

Step 1 – Discussion

  • Discuss the initiative and scope of activities with your chair and dean/VP. Learn about departmental or college policies for international collaborations. 
  • International collaborations involving a graduate degree or certificate program require Graduate School review. See the Graduate School’s Guidelines for New International Collaborations.
  • International collaborations involving academic services contracts require International Academic Services Contracts Committee (IASCC) review. See Guidelines for International Academic Services Contracts.
  • Reach out to and discuss with the Office of Global Affairs team. 

Step 2 – Proposal

  • Complete the agreements proposal form  
  • Proposals need to be reviewed and approved by the Dean or VP of the unit before the agreement is executed.  
  • OGA will respond within 5 business days. 

Step 3 – Drafting

  • OGA staff will draft the agreement, using UW approved templates. Depending on the type of agreement and its complexity the initial drafting period can take one to four weeks.
  • All agreements must include language approved by the UW Office of the Attorney General. Use of UW-approved agreement templates is strongly encouraged. Using alternate formats will significantly increase the time required to conclude the agreement.

Step 4 – Terms

  • The UW agreement sponsor shares the draft with the collaborating institution/entity, which may propose edits.
  • Any changes made by the collaborating institution/entity or sponsoring UW department to the agreement draft should be clearly marked in the document.
  • Agreement terms are negotiated and finalized by both parties, in consultation with OGA.

Step 5 – Signatures

  • The institutional authorities named in the agreement sign two original copies of the agreement (or more copies if specified).
  • The VP for Global Affairs must sign all international agreements.

Step 6 – Records

  • One copy of the fully executed agreement remains with the partner institution. The other is held by the UW sponsoring department.
  • A scanned copy of the entire agreement must be emailed to OGA. It will be added to the central agreements database.

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: 1 to 4 weeks
  • Other templates are used, significant changes proposed, or complex arrangements: 6 to 36 weeks

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

  • The 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.

What is an International Academic Services Contract?

International academic services contracts are fee for service arrangements with foreign institutions, and companies, or other entities for consulting and other academic ventures that do not meet the criteria of a sponsored program or gift as defined by Grants Information Memorandum (GIM) 34 – “Classification of External Support”.  Consistent with UW Administrative Policy Statement (APS) 59.5, International academic service contract must meet these criteria:

  • The service provided must be directly related to the educational mission of the University and the sponsoring academic unit;
  • The price or fee of the services must account for the full cost of the activity, including University overhead.

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 and chair or VP.

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

  • Departmental agreements: Chair and dean or VP and the Vice Provost for Global Affairs
  • College/School agreements: Dean and Vice Provost for Global Affairs
  • For some forms of agreement, additional signatures may be required.
  • After signature by the chair and/or dean/VP, submit both copies to OGA. After signature by the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, 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 to 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 will be relatively 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 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, and international academic services contracts that do not meet the criteria of a sponsored program or gift, 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 that is not part of an international academic services contract, 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. UW Administrative Policy Statement 59.5 describes the UW’s policy for sales of goods and services for fees.

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.