For UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and units, international collaboration brings forth new challenges in developing and managing institutional agreements. Many challenges are like those involved in domestic agreements, but widely varying contractual practices worldwide present a more compelling case for institutional diligence. UNC Global provides guidelines and support to UNC faculty and units moving from the partnership conceptualization stage to agreement development and implementation. UNC Global also maintains a database which contains information on agreements and linkages between UNC units and institutions around the world.
There are three main types of international agreements:
- Letter of Intent: After faculty or units have begun collaborating on research projects or other academic activities on an individual and informal basis, an institution will often request a non-binding Letter of Intent in which the other institution expresses interest in establishing an academic partnership with the intention of later drafting a formal Memorandum of Understanding as the partnership progresses.
- Memorandum of Understanding: An MOU provides a formal framework for conducting collaborations between institutions and is executed by both institutions for a specific period of time after which the agreement will be evaluated and then renewed, reformulated or terminated. MOUs primarily are signed at the institution level to cover general collaborative activities of any of the institutions’ units but can also be executed between individual schools or units.
- Addendum: After a general MOU has been executed between institutions or institutional units, addenda can be drafted to describe specific activities. The most common form of addendum is a Student Exchange Agreement to clarify the terms and conditions under which the exchange of students will take place. Addenda are also frequently developed to define a joint degree or academic program, a specific research project or contract with a company or institution for the use of facilities.
UNC Procedure for Agreement Approval
All international agreements, except Letters of Intent, are required to go through the University’s official review and approval process and be signed by the chancellor. The dean or department chair is welcome to sign an agreement in addition to the chancellor.
Units are advised to contact Melissa McMurray, international liaison officer, when developing an international agreement, especially if the agreement language is substantially different than a template. She will help units consult with relevant offices to answer any questions about the proposed collaboration and to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed. She will also share the draft with University Counsel to confirm all required legal text is included and that the agreement does not contain any content that could be questioned by University Counsel or other University administrators.
After the agreement content has been finalized, Melissa McMurray will manage the official approval process, which includes review by the relevant dean; the chief international officer; the vice chancellor for research; and the vice chancellor and general counsel. If there are any concerns, agreements will be returned to the originating unit to address. After approvals are received, agreements are signed by Chancellor Folt and returned to the unit for the partner institution to sign. A copy of the executed agreement should be sent to Melissa McMurray.
For more information or for assistance drafting an international agreement, please contact:
International Liaison Officer, UNC Global