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Developing International Partners
Any number of factors may lead to the decision to pursue a formal relationship with an international partner:
- Foreign travel
- Research contacts
- Individual investigation
Whatever the reason, it is crucial that those individuals interested in developing the partnership follow the steps listed below. Failure to do so may delay the approval process or prevent it altogether.
A. Determine if another agreement with institution of interest already exists
Search the MOA Database to determine if there is already an agreement in place with the same institution that may allow the proposed collaboration to join in.
B. Confirming Mutual Interest through Preliminary Discussions
Before pursuing a formal partnership, it is important to confirm that both (all) parties are genuinely interested in a collaboration. This is also the time to have preliminary discussions with your department head and dean or appropriate supervising administrator. The faculty/staff member's department will assume the responsibilities of the Originating Department and will be listed as such in the university's registry of international agreements; therefore, it is important to keep the department head and dean informed throughout the development process. For more information on the rights and responsibilities of the Originating Department, click here.
C. Establishing Compatibility
Before pursuing the development of an agreement, the potential for exchange and program compatibility should be considered in order to establish the feasibility and appropriateness of the desired agreement.
- Significant exchange possibilities should exist in at least one of the following areas: student, faculty, research, or service;
- The initiative should have significant commitment from at least one University unit (e.g., academic department, college, support unit);
- If funding comes initially from external sources, e.g. federal grants, the institutional commitment should continue beyond the life of the grant unless explicitly stated that the relationship is active only during the administration of that grant;
- For student exchanges, potential should exist for long-term interest and activity; and
- It should be mutually beneficial to all parties.
The compatibility of the proposed exchange agreement with the mission and objectives of WKU will also be scrutinized. To that end, the following requirements must be fulfilled:
- If the proposed agreement is in a region or country where WKU already has similar programmatic exchange relationships, there must be a compelling rationale for the establishment of the proposed agreement and a demonstrated benefit to the University;
- Proposing departments at both institutions should possess compatibility of interests and should show a strong willingness to sustain an on-going relationship;
- If academic credit is earned at the host institution, academic credit must be appropriately recognized at both institutions;
- Academic expectations and criteria should be clearly defined for participants in exchanges;
- Academic calendars of the two institutions should be taken into consideration;
- An infrastructure to administer the exchange at each host institution must be identified;
- WKU's financial responsibilities and commitments are clarified and understood;
- The mutual expectations with respect to all facets of the agreement should be clear to all parties. (In addition to academic expectations, these may include such matters as housing arrangements, assistance with travel, degree of mentorship or advisement, extracurricular involvement, integration of guest into host institution.)
For more information or to inquire about the items for consideration listed above, please contact the Coordinator of International Programs.
D. Completing and Submitting the Proposal Development Worksheet and Routing Form for Approval of International Exchange and Cooperative Agreements
The individual(s) proposing the agreement should complete the Proposal Development Worksheet and Routing Form. This document may also serve as a general outline of information to consider when developing an international agreement and should prove useful in the early stages of planning.
Once completed, submit the form to the Office of International Programs via the Coordinator. You may email the form as an attachment.
Drafting the Agreement
A. Preliminary Discussions and Determining Agreement Type
Once OIP receives the International Agreement Proposal and Routing Form, they will likely request a meeting with relevant parties (which may include the IEC representative(s) from the appropriate College(s)) to:
- Discuss the proposal;
- Identify the appropriate collaborative document based on goals and intentions expressed in the proposal (see agreement types) ;
- Provide important details on the overall approval process;
- Discuss the responsibilities of the Originating Department, OIP, etc. in the overall process.*
*If you are applying for an external grant which requires establishing a collaborative agreement with an international institution, you will need to work with BOTH the Office of Sponsored Programs and OIP. Please be sure to communicate your goals with both offices so that the agreement associated with the grant may be run through the appropriate approval process. For more information on Grants with International Agreement requirements, check out our FAQ.
B. Choosing a Template
When using a WKU-approved template:
Using one of the approved templates provided by OIP is strongly recommended. Doing so will make drafting the agreement relatively simple. (click here for WKU approved template)
Once you have a completed draft, we recommend that you share the document with the potential partner university prior to pursuing any formal WKU approval in case the partner university requests alterations to the drafted document. OIP should be copied on all relevant communications.
When using an external template:
Although this is not the preferred method, sometimes using an external template is necessary. Should that prove to be the case, we recommend that you work closely with OIP during the early stages of drafting the agreement to ensure that the document sent through for formal WKU approval will meet all requirements. OIP should be included in all relevant communications with the potential partner university.
A. Review and Preliminary Approval by OIP
Once all relevant parties (i.e., Originating Department, OIP, Partner University, et al.) agree on a final version, the agreement will need to run through a formal approval process. If the originating department is working with OIP in the development stages, the preliminary approval should be relatively simple.
B. Administrative Review and Approval
While OIP is available to assist and provide guidance, the Originating Department is responsible for shepherding the proposed international agreement through the formal approval process. This process must take place prior to the gathering of signatures.
The pathway to formal approval may vary depending on the type of agreement as well as the ways in which it commits WKU resources. For an outline of the approval process and the various pathways an agreement may take, click here. Please direct any questions or concerns regarding approval process to OIP.
Requests for revisions are likely to occur during the approval process. However, communicating and working with OIP throughout the planning and agreement drafting stages should help eliminate the need for major revisions.
C. Obtaining Signatures
Once approved at all levels necessary, it is strongly encouraged that the partner institution be allowed to collect signatures first.
Note: Be sure to request that the partner provide two original copies of the agreement for signatures. If translated versions are being used, request that two versions of each translation be signed. This will ensure that once all signatures have been obtained, both parties should have access to at least one original signed version. If the collaboration involves more than two parties, additional copies will be required. Please be sure to keep OIP involved in these communications.
Once the appropriate persons at the partner university have formally committed to the collaboration with their signature, the Originating Department, with guidance from OIP, may begin collecting WKU signatures.
Once all signatures have been obtained, the Originating Department should supply the partner university with its dual-signed copy of the agreement. OIP is charged with housing all international agreements; please provide them the other original dual-signed version. We recommend making copies for your own records as well.
Although OIP is responsible for housing all international agreement records, the Originating Department (or College) identified in the agreement is responsible for the overall care and maintenance of collaborative activities laid out in said agreement (for more information on what it means to be an Originating Department, click here). Depending on the type of partnership, the Originating Department's responsibilities for an established agreement may include (but are not limited to):
- Recruiting students for exchanges;
- Covering all outstanding fees resulting from uneven exchange balances;
- Providing academic support and guidance to both inbound and outbound students (for example, making a good faith effort to get inbound exchange students enrolled into desired courses—assuming appropriate pre-requisites);
- Initiating review of the agreement within the appropriate time period;
- Working with OIP when amending the agreement;
- Nominating faculty for exchange;
- Hosting faculty from partner university (including arranging for transportation, housing, campus integration, workspace, etc);
Please note that housing, for tax purposes, is considered compensation and should be on paystubs for all J visa foreign nationals. For further information regarding tax implications of housing contact the WKU Tax Compliance Accountant.
Additionally, the Originating Department is responsible for ensuring that all activities resulting from the agreement comply with University regulations; this may mean collaborating with other WKU units (for example: working with the Office of International Student & Scholar Services when planning to host a foreign scholar or working with the Office of Study Abroad & Global Learning to ensure that all outbound students are properly prepared and registered to study abroad at the partner university). OIP is available for consultation and will provide support and guidance where needed.
Guidelines for Review and Renewal of International Agreements
WKU requires that any international agreements clearly commit both parties to a review process prior to the expiration date (see Content & Format for International Agreements) . This review process is intended to help both parties ascertain the effectiveness of the agreement in its original form and to address any issues that may have arisen. Said review may result in alterations to the existing document. If so, the Originating Department is responsible for notifying OIP before making any changes. Should an agreement require alteration prior to the designated review period, the Originating Department is responsible for notifying OIP before making any changes. In both of the aforementioned cases, any changes to the document that commit WKU resources are likely to require a formal approval process.
Internal Evaluation for Renewal
In order to determine whether an agreement will be renewed in its current form, modified, or allowed to expire, it will need to go through an internal evaluation. Some agreements have specified deadlines for renewal. If that is the case, the Originating Department is responsible for initiating Evaluation for Renewal procedures well in advance of the deadline. If an agreement has no deadline for renewal, the Originating Department should initiate the Evaluation for Renewal no less than six (6) months prior to the expiration date. By that date, they should submit an internal assessment of the partnership to the Coordinator of International Programs, including the following details:
- Fulfillment of stated purpose
- Activity level
- Changes to either institution that would enhance or hinder partnership
- If applicable, desired amendments to existing agreement
- Evidence of Departmental and College support for renewal
The assessment will be evaluated by the Office of International Programs as well as the International Education Council. The Originating Department will be informed of the result of the review and depending on the intended outcome (modification, renewal, or termination), will be advised as to the appropriate next course of action. Again, if changes to the agreement result in the commitment of WKU resources, a more formalized "re-approval" process is likely to be required.
Agreements are not eligible for renewal if the Originating Department fails to initiate the formal review process (i.e., submit their evaluation by no less than three (3) months prior to the expiration date). Originating Departments are responsible for tracking any and all important dates associated with their partnerships. The OD is encouraged to pursue all actions well before the expiration date so that timely renewals or terminations can be made to protect ongoing programs under the agreement.
Renewed agreements are subject to the same policy and requirements of newly drafted agreements.
If changes are made to the original agreement, OIP must be provided the new document for its records.
If a college/department continues to carry on programs under an expired agreement, OIP will send a formal notice to the college Dean and IEC representative informing them of the non-compliance risk and the need to meet compliance.
Should an agreement need to be terminated prior to its scheduled end date, OIP should be made aware prior to any action being taken. OIP's Legal Affairs Specialist will consult with the University's Chief Counsel to determine the best course of action, maintaining communication with the Originating Department.