UNL’s international engagement activities operate at a variety of levels, including individual students and faculty members, teams and classes, programs, departments, centers, colleges, and the University as a whole. Many of our engagement activities have been and will always be carried out by individuals and without formal institutional commitments or agreements, however the spread and effectiveness of such activities can often be enhanced through formal institutional agreements of the University with foreign institutions and agencies.
Types of agreements may include (but are not restricted to) student exchange, non-reciprocal study abroad programs, faculty/scholar/staff exchanges, partnership degree programs, degree completion programs, dual and joint degree programs, research collaborations, materials exchanges (such as library materials), and training and technical assistance. In each case, a General International Memorandum of Understanding (GIMOU) should be signed before, or at the same time as, other, more specific agreements are processed. The General IMOU serves as a foundation upon which specific programs are built. The establishment of a General IMOU also allows for more expeditious processing of specific agreements, in the form of addenda to the GIMOU.
In initiating any new international agreement, the following should be considered:
- A history of cooperation between members of the two proposed partner institutions.
- Strong potential for mutual benefit. What relevant strengths does the foreign institution bring to the agreement? Why is this an appropriate institution with which to sign an agreement? What benefits will this bring to UNL? Who are the faculty, students, and staff who will benefit from this agreement?
- Compliance with legal restrictions and University regulations. Do all elements of the agreement comply with U.S. federal law (including immigration, export/import and other regulations) and with the laws of the government of the proposed partner institution? Do all of the elements of the agreement comply with the rules and regulations of both partner institutions?
- Secured funding and infrastructure commitments (as necessary). What type of UNL financial support has already been promised or secured? What will be the source of this support? What type of support, if any, will the foreign institution provide during the first years of the agreement? In addition to financial support, what arrangements are in place for other forms of support such as office space, secretarial/clerical assistance, or faculty course leave?
- Identified coordinators or contact persons at each institution. What individual at each institution will be responsible for coordinating the activities that comprise the relationship, e.g., initiating publicity, communicating information to the other institution, etc.? Is a back-up or secondary contact available, in case the primary contact is absent or unavailable for a period of time?
- Stated support from all colleges, departments and programs explicitly implicated in the agreement. Has the initiating unit received explicit support from all other departments, colleges and programs that are implicated as participants in the agreement? If elements of the agreement might represent a significant workload increase or other resource issue for administrative offices, have these offices been consulted?
- Alignment with undergraduate student recruitment plans and priorities. Might the proposed agreement help us advance our recruitment efforts in a country identified for increased student recruitment? Does it align with areas of capacity or areas for growth identified by our colleges?
- Potential for enhancing and building on Alumni Association efforts. Is this a country or region with a strong alumni base or one that has been identified by the Alumni Association for special effort?
- Alignment with study abroad activities. Is this a country, city, or region that has been identified by colleges, faculty, and students as being especially important for growth in study abroad, internship, and service learning activities?
- A plan for regular program evaluation and renewal. How will the agreement be evaluated prior to renewal? What will the criteria be for a successful partnership? For what period will the agreement be in force?
Once these considerations have been addressed, the initiating program, department or college may proceed by negotiating a draft GIMOU with the proposed partner institution, using the template provided by UNL. In some cases, the proposed partner institution may have their own template. In this situation, it is important to negotiate a compromise document, consulting with the UNL Senior International Officer (SIO) in order to assure that the agreement that emerges is tenable at UNL.
Once a draft GIMOU and coversheet have been routed for review, approval, and signatures by all appropriate parties, two hard-copy versions of the document are printed for signature by the Chancellor. (Only the Chancellor has the authority to represent the Board of Regents and committee the University to an international agreement.) Both copies of the GIMOU are then sent to the partner institution for signatures. One original copy must be returned to the SIO. UNL keeps an electronic file of all agreements and enters them into a database.
A GIMOU often lays the foundation for a more specific International Memorandum of Agreement (IMOA) or Terms of Agreement (TOA) that may involve a financial commitment by the university and addresses specific activities, such as student exchanges, non-reciprocal education abroad programs, faculty/scholar/staff exchanges, partnership degree programs, degree completion programs, dual and joint degree programs, research collaborations, materials exchanges (such as library materials), and training and technical assistance. Contact the SIO for templates and assistance with these types of agreements.