Western Carolina University’s Strategic Plan 2020 states “Strengthen relationships and communication between the University and its external partners” (Goal 3.1). International partners are essential external partners for higher education institutions. To support the fulfillment of WCU’s goal, this document is established to deal with a range of international agreement possibilities. This document outlines the policy and procedures to be followed when establishing international institutional partnerships.
Guidelines Governing International Partnerships
- All international agreements at WCU must be coordinated through and administered by the Office of International Programs and Services.
- Preparation for international agreements must include input from and approved by the Provost’s Council and must be legally sufficient in the State of North Carolina as approved by the Office of Legal Counsel.
- Prior to establishing an agreement, WCU unit must review “Factors to Consider for Developing International Partnership”.
- All international agreements must adhere to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Joint Curricular Ventures Involving the Award of Credit by Member Institutions: Policy and Guidelines.
- All international agreements much use the required format and include seven agreement components.
- General WCU policies and rules of conduct apply to all students, faculty, and staff participating in the international exchange programs.
- Partnership must align with WCU’s Strategic Plan.
- Sub-agreement must have support of the Department/School or College Dean overseeing the agreement or plan.
- Primary Agreement (aka. Memorandum or Agreement of Friendship and Cooperation): University-to-university agreement of friendship and cooperation. It generally umbrellas agreement under which sub-agreements for specific activities are pursued. It is typically initiated by Office of International Programs and Services (IPS).
- Sub-Agreement for Student Exchange: It includes detailed speculations for WCU and the partner university, including specific responsibilities for incoming and outgoing exchange participants. It can be initiated by a specific college or school or IPS. The referents to the agreements should reflect the title of primary agreement.
- Sub-Agreement for Faculty Exchange:It includes detailed speculations for WCU and the partner university, including specific terms regarding faculty exchange. It can be initiated by a specific college or school or IPS. The referents to the agreements should reflect the title of primary agreement.
- Sub-Agreement for Other Specific Activities: It is used for other specific activities with a current primary partner of WCU, excluding student or faculty exchange. It can be initiated by a specific college or school or IPS. The referents to the agreements should reflect the title of primary agreement.
Procedures to Establishing a Successful International Partnership
International partnerships often originate through informal contacts by the university faculty and staff. The partnerships eventually evolve into formal agreements through various forms of collaborations.
Evaluate the partner institution.
- Respond to “Factors to Consider for Developing International Partnership” (see Appendix A). All “Yes” are expected.
- Meet with the Director of IPS to discuss details.
- Establish formal contacts
Obtain support from College/School Dean.
- Obtain a letter of introduction from the Provost’s office as well as bring written material about WCU to exchange with prospective partner institution abroad.
- Conduct a site visit abroad to investigate partnership possibilities. Generally IPS director will travel along if funding is available.
Draft partnership agreement.
- Draft the agreement based on the site visit. Solicit input of the College/School Dean, Department Chair, IPS director, and the provost’s office. WCU agreement template must be utilized and agreement components must be included.
Negotiate the agreement with partner institution.
- A clear and shared understanding of the benefits and objectives of the proposed agreement must be reached through negotiations between WCU and the partner institutions.
Endorse the agreement.
- Director of International Programs and Services will finalize the written agreement and present to the University Counsel for review. This might also be the case at the partner institution.
- Director of IPS will then present the agreement to the Provost’s council for approval and the WCU Chancellor for signature.Once the agreement has been signed by WCU Chancellor and the partner institution, one original will be sent to the partner institution and a copy to the WCU department initiating the agreement process. WCU’s original copy of the agreement will be maintained in the Office of International Programs and Services.Regulate communication
- WCU IPS will maintain regular contact with the partner institution following signature of the agreement, to ensure that the partnership will remain relevant, effective, and free of serious problems.
Factors to Consider for Developing International Partnership
- Is partner institution an accredited higher education institution, non-profit, by recognized accrediting bodies? The expectation is that WCU will engage in linkages with institutions of the higher caliber.
- Will the partnership be sustainable? It should possess potential for partner institutions to contribute to the exchange as well as WCU student interest in exchanges and faculty interest in joint research programs. Partnerships contingent on the action of a single faculty member is not considered sustainable.
- Will the partnership be mutually beneficial?
- Will the partner institution have an established infrastructure for hosting exchange students and faculty?
- Will the partnership involve collaboration of two or more schools across the university in order to leverage broader connections?
- Will the partner institution support WCU’s vision and mission?
- Will exchange programs adhere to the policies, standards and best practice guidelines of WCU and appropriate accrediting bodies?
- Will WCU’s academic and research standards be maintained or enhanced as a result of the partnership?
- Will immediate and viable student and faculty exchange opportunities be apparent?
- Will exchange visits between partners take place in a timely manner?
- Will the College/School Dean and department chair support this endeavor?