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International Agreements

Purpose

Mercer University forms relationships with selected international institutions in order to serve its commitment to liberal learning, the development of professional knowledge, discovery, and service to humankind through strategic global engagement.

Relationships are typically initiated by faculty, deans, or department heads based on an academic or strategic interest in the country or in shared research agenda among faculty from both institutions.

The development and signing of all international agreements must adhere to the protocol outlined here, approved by the University's General Counsel, to maintain consistency and ensure that guidelines for establishing and managing relationships are met.

Definitions

International Agreements include Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and Memoranda of Agreement (MOA), both of which govern a formalized collaboration between Mercer University and an international institution.  

An MOU serves to provide a framework for exploration into collaborations that will mutually benefit both institutions.  These agreements include, but are not limited to, commitments to engage in joint research projects, student and/or faculty exchange, study abroad programming, conference planning, etc., and they do not commit the University to any financial or legal obligations.  MOUs tend to lead to projects with specified goals or outcomes through articulated activities.  These projects must be governed by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

An MOA is a more detailed commitment to specific projects with begin and end dates and which oblige the University to deliver services or render payment for designated activities or services, ensuring that goals are met and resources are expended appropriately.

Guidelines

1.  Exploration 

When contacts between Mercer University faculty and staff lead to discussions of cooperation on projects, it's important to remember that collaborative activities should be mutually beneficial and support the strategic objectives of Mercer University.  All interested parties should be included in conversations about defining the relationship and identifying resources necessary to meet the needs of the relationship.  These parties tend to include department chairs, deans, the director of international programs, student affairs, and the registrar.

2.  Development

Early in the process, contact International Programs for consultation, including an assessment of the benefits of the relationship, articulation of how it serves the University mission, and determination of the type of agreement to pursue.  An administrative tracking form will be started to ensure that issues such as contact names, safety, accreditation, and resources are considered, and a rationale should be drafted as to how the partnership mutually benefits both parties.  

3.  Drafting the Agreement

The Office of International Programs will provide University approved, standard templates for International MOUs and MOAs.  If an MOA is sought, policies governing contracts will apply.  Please visit the Grants and Contracts website for details.  

Two original copies, in English, are required for signing, one for each institution.  If the partner institution prefers an agreement in a language other than English, International Programs must review a draft in the second language for accuracy according to the standard template.  Any costs associated with verifying translations will be the responsibility of the department of the initiating sponsor of the agreement.

4.  Submission

The final proposal to enter into a relationship with an international institution should be submitted to the Office of International Programs and must include the following:

  • A one-page summary of the benefits of the relationship to achieving each institution's strategic goals
  • The MOU or MOA drafted according to the standard template
  • A completed international agreement administrative tracking form

5.  Final Review and Signing

Standard Template Agreements with No Modifications

Agreements adhering to the content, language, and format of the standard template are finalized by:

  • Office of International Programs review and approval
  • Provost review and signature approval (MOU and MOA)
  • Chief Financial Officer review and signature approval (MOA only)

Standard Template Agreements with Non-Substantive Modifications

Agreements mostly adhering to the content, language, and format of the standard template but with non-substantive changes are finalized by:

  • Office of International Programs review and approval
  • General Counsel review and approval
  • Provost review and signature approval (MOU and MOA)
  • Chief Financial Officer review and signature approval (MOA only)

Non-standard Agreements 

Any agreement that does not follow the standard template must be carefully reviewed before approval, and could take additional time for final approval.  International Programs will assist with any required revisions and resubmissions for final approval.  Non-standard agreements are finalized by:

  • Office of International Programs review and approval
  • General Counsel review and approval
  • Provost review and signature approval (MOU and MOA)
  • Chief Financial Officer review and signature approval (MOA only)

Timeline

Once the final, complete, proposal is received by International Programs, the process for approval should take between one and two weeks, unless revision is necessary.  

Document Management

MOU and MOA originals are managed by the Office of International Programs through physical and electronic storage.  A database of all agreements, including name and location of partner institution, signing date, expiration date, and nature of the agreement, managed by OIP is available upon request.