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Guidelines for international academic services contracts

International academic services contracts are fee for service arrangements with foreign institutions, companies, and state enterprises for consulting and other academic ventures that do not meet the criteria of a sponsored program or gift. Although these arrangements present an opportunity for academic units to share expertise, expand their international profile, and generate revenue, they also represent additional work and risks to the university and must be carefully considered and reviewed prior to any commitment of university resources.

International academic services contracts fall under UW Administrative Policy Statement 59.5 “Policy on Sales of Goods and Services” (APS 59.5) and are subject to the standard on-campus institutional administrative overhead rate (currently 15.6%). This standard rate applies regardless of whether the activity will take place on campus or abroad. In accordance with APS 59.5, international services contracts must be directly and substantially related to the UW unit’s educational mission and should not be entered into for the sole purpose of raising revenue. The price or fee charged for the services must also account for the full costs of the services provided, including the cost of UW overhead. Market rates for similar services should be considered when determining the contract fee.

Review and approval procedures

The Office of Global Affairs coordinates the review of international academic services contracts in collaboration with the International Academic Services Contracts Committee (IASCC) comprised of UW campus experts in operations, finance, legal, export controls, and international programming, as well as faculty with area studies expertise. The full IASCC committee convenes once per quarter to review international academic services project proposals and to recommend courses of action, including whether to approve or not approve particular projects, to the Provost. A smaller IASCC working group convenes monthly and over email, on an as needed basis, to identify and evaluate potential risks of the proposed activity, to work with the sponsoring unit to mitigate those risks, and to advise the full IASCC committee. The Provost must approve all international academic services contracts prior to their implementation.

Questions for consideration

UW units considering an international academic services project proposal from a foreign entity, should carefully consider the potential risks of such an arrangement including, but not limited to, the following:


Level of control – How much control will UW maintain or relinquish?

  • Will activity take place in a foreign country and be subject to foreign laws?
  • Are there known issues concerning academic freedom including limitations on publications or particular topics?
  • Can we repatriate advanced funding?
  • How much control/cooperation can we expect regarding program branding and enforcement?

Institutional reputation – How will the contracting partners reflect on the UW?

  • Do we know all the parties to the contract?
  • What is the reputation of the proposed partner?
  • How much do we know about the source of the funding? Is the funding mechanism and source of funds transparent?
  • What “products” are we selling beyond academic services (access, political capital, etc.). By entering into this contract is the UW intentionally or unintentionally aiding others in selling their products?
  • To what extent are partners interesting in using the UW name, brand, etc. in publicizing or marketing?

Security and privacy – How confident are we in the UW’s ability to protect sensitive data and information systems?

  • Will records involving people (e.g., student records, medical records) be shared?
  • Will sensitive non-human data or training be shared (e.g., potential military applications)? Do export control rules apply?
  • What is the partner country or partner organization’s record on protecting IP and data security?
  • Does the partner have adequate internal controls?

Sustainability – Does the purpose and remuneration justify the level of effort, investment, and risk?

  • Is the project consistent with UW’s mission and values? Are there any concerns?
  • Does the project and budget make financial sense? Do we have the bandwidth and resources to deliver on our promises?
  • Are any of the parties subject to US legal or economic sanctions?
  • Does the UW have other relationships which would prohibit, be inconsistent with or adversely affected by this relationship?


Please contact the Office of Global Affairs or visit the International Agreements page for additional information.