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International Agreements FAQ

International Agreements FAQ

What is the difference between a Departmental Agreement and an Institutional Agreement?

A Departmental/College Agreement in the context of international partnerships is a formal arrangement between a WKU academic Department or College and an overseas academic institution. The purpose(s) of the agreement may center on research or faculty or student exchanges within the target discipline(s). The relationship is typically initiated by the academic Department/College. This individual is known as a faculty sponsor in relation to the agreement

An Institutional (or University-wide) Agreement governs a university partnership for the purposes of research, faculty or student exchange with an overseas institution.   Unlike a Departmental/College Agreement, an Institutional Agreement has the potential to involve multiple WKU Colleges. Essentially, WKU and the Partner University overlap in a number of ways—allowing for a "university-wide" level of engagement. Typically, the Office of International Programs (OIP) will initiate an institutional relationship, however, depending on the partner university, some Departmental/College Agreements can develop into Institutional Agreements.

NOTE: OIP will help those proposing an international partnership determine whether the agreement would be classified a Departmental/College or Institutional.


Supports the exchange of students or faculty within one College/Department Supports the exchange of students or faculty in three or more Colleges
Supports a project or program within a single Department or College Supports a project or program involving three or more Colleges
Creates opportunities for research in discipline(s) within the Department or College Creates opportunities for research in multiple disciplines that involve three or more Colleges

NOTE: The CIO will make the final determination as to whether an agreement is Departmental/College or Institutional.

What is an Originating Department (OD)? What are the rights and responsibilities of an OD?

When the academic focus and activities of an international partnership (whether research or exchange) center on a particular Department or College, that unit is deemed an Originating Department. The Originating Department (or College) is typically responsible for initiating the partnership and will always be involved, with assistance from the Office of International Programs, in the development and maintenance of the collaborative agreement.

Once an agreement has been established, the OD's responsibilities 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);
  • Performing and submitting annual assessment of the collaborative activities

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.

What is a Faculty Sponsor?

Departmental or College agreements should have faculty sponsors to facilitate the development and maintenance of international collaborative agreements. These faculty members serve as the primary points of contact regarding the agreement and the activities it governs. They work closely with OIP throughout the development and approval processes, they are responsible for communicating all agreement-related information with stakeholders (e.g., Dean, Department Head, colleagues, OIP, etc.).

What does it mean that an agreement commits WKU resources?

An agreement is said to "commit WKU resources" when the intended activities of the partnership require (or might require) any kind of support from WKU resources (facilities, funds, etc.) in order to be carried out. For example, student or faculty exchanges commit WKU resources. More specifically, if a student exchange falls out of balance, WKU is required to cover the costs of tuition for the incoming students.

My department is interested in developing an agreement with a University in Country X. What do I need to do to get the ball rolling?

  • Determine if WKU already has an agreement with that university. The MOA Database will be your best resource.
  • Notify your department head, dean of your interest. As faculty sponsor (i.e., WKU faculty member pursuing a formalization of international collaboration. Their support will be necessary.
  • Set up an appointment with the Coordinator of International Programs. It is recommended that the faculty sponsor complete and submit the International Partnership Proposal Form (see International Agreement Forms) prior to a meeting with OIP.

What if I am applying for an external grant that requires developing a partnership with a foreign institution?

You will want to proceed as you normally would—work with the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) on the grant and with OIP on developing the MOU or MOA. As with any grant or international agreement, the sooner you communicate with the relevant offices, the better. OIP and OSP have a process in place to handle these type situations and, once you have communicated your goals with both offices, will work together to ensure all is handled properly. Essentially, the international agreement will have an additional step in the approval process—from OSP.

If I am using an external template (e.g., the potential partner university's template), what items/details MUST be included to receive WKU approval?

WKU recommends using the templates found above when developing international agreements. Where necessary, they may be modified to better outline the purposes of the partnership. However, there are certain items/details that are required for all agreements. For a full list of those items, click here.

When does a partnership or collaborative project necessitate an agreement?

Not all collaborative activities will require a formal agreement. However, should collaborative activities with another institution or organization meet any of the following criteria, it is in the University's best interest to formalize that partnership:

  • WKU students are involved (for research, service, learning purposes)
  • Credit is being awarded
  • WKU resources are being committed (in the form of salary, materials, facilities, etc.)
  • Collaborative activities are ongoing (not just a one-time program)

If you are uncertain as to whether your collaborative activities require formalizing, you are encouraged to contact the Coordinator of International Programs (



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 Last Modified 2/2/18