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Need to talk to someone about your international MoU and partnership agreement questions? The MoU process is supported by the Center for Global Engagement. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an MoU?
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is a non-binding statement of cooperation by which UMB and another entity express an interest in establishing a relationship that may result in future collaborative activities such as student and faculty exchanges, joint conferences, and/or research projects.
An MoU may not create a legally binding commitment of UMB Funds. Any commitment of UMB Funds requires a procurement agreement, subaward agreement, or similar contractual instrument. The MoU may serve as the first step in developing a future binding agreement which later leads to binding agreements which are developed through a different process.
When is an MoU required?
UMB encourages international partnerships with other entities and these often entail entering into an MoU. However, an MoU is not required to enter into collaborations, procurement agreements, subawards agreements, etc. Often an international collaborator will request an MoU as the first step to a relationship, and the Center for Global Engagement can help you work with your partner to create an MoU.
Who can sign an MoU? (Not you!)
The President of the University holds the sole authority for committing the University to an international Memorandum of Understanding, which by definition is a non-binding agreement that does not involve any exchange of funds between the parties. The President may delegate the authority to execute an MoU. The types of MoUs this applies to include:
- Memorandum of Understanding
- Affiliation Agreement
- Exchange Agreement
The UMB Partnership and Collaboration Guiding Principles Checklist emerged from internationalization reports from each of the seven UMB schools. It is a reflection of best practices and a resource to guide program development that can be used in tandem with the UMB Considerations for Successful and Sustainable International Partnerships. Not every global program can – or is intended to – fit all the criteria outlined.
Types of MoUs
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – A non-binding statement that is used to show intent of cooperation or collaboration without committing to specific activities, also known as a Memorandum of Agreement or a Letter of Intent.
Affiliation Agreement – An agreement between UMB or one or more UMB schools, institutes, and centers and another entity that is not a university, for the purpose of faculty and/or student exchanges, service activities, externships, training workshops, and similar activities.
Exchange Agreement – An agreement between UMB or one or more UMB schools, institutes, and centers and another university, for the purpose of faculty and/or student exchanges.
A high-level MoU is what international partners often ask for, and the general MoU is appropriate for general, non-specific promises to collaborate in the future. Here is an example.
If the purpose of the collaboration is for student exchange, ask for help with an Exchange Agreement.
If you plan to work with a non-university organization such as a third-party education abroad organization or NGO, ask for help with an Affiliation Agreement.
Following are the steps for developing an international MoU and obtaining the required institutional review, approval, and signature.
Step 1: Any UMB community member interested in pursuing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an international entity should consult with the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) prior to negotiating the agreement to check whether a prior MOU exists with the same or related entity and for guidance on the MoU process and support in the form of MoU templates/examples and other resources.
Step 2: The Initiator should complete, sign, and submit the UMB MoU Request Form to CGE. CGE will respond to Initiator with the next steps and/or request additional information.
Step 3: CGE will share the completed UMB MoU Request Form with UMB’s Export Officer who will review the request giving consideration to country sanctions, restricted/prohibited parties, and other potential export concerns. Review comments are provided to the Initiator (copy to CGE) and entered in the MoU Request Form. The Initiator must respond to all review comments to the satisfaction of UMB’s Export Officer before CGE submits the MoU Request Form for approval. Responsibility to monitor the progress of the MoU Request Form through the Export Officer review rests with CGE.
Step 4: CGE routes the MoU Request Form for required approvals.
Step 5: If the international partner has not provided its own MOU or agreement language for review, CGE will provide the appropriate UMB-approved template(s) to the Initiator to develop and draft the MOU or agreement. It is the Initiator’s responsibility to work with the international partner to agree on language and MOU terms that will be acceptable to both parties.
** Note: Changes to the UMB agreement templates should be clearly marked in the draft agreement and must be approved by UMB University Counsel before signing.
Step 6: After the Initiator submits the draft MoU to CGE, CGE will transmit the MOU Request Form and draft MoU/agreement to University Counsel for legal review. University Counsel will send comments to CGE, and CGE will transmit comments and action steps to Initiator. The Initiator is responsible for sharing drafts and review comments with an international partner and obtaining their feedback. CGE will take the lead in working with University Counsel and Initiator until a final document (or another course of action) is agreed upon.
Step 7: CGE routes finalized MoU or agreement to the UMB President or designee for signature. The Initiator sends a partially executed agreement to the partner for the partner institution's signature. Upon signature by the partner, the fully executed agreement is provided to University Counsel and CGE.
Step 8: University Counsel retains international MoUs as the holder of record. Copies are also kept on file in CGE.
Although not necessary, signing an MoU can be a collaborative and ceremonial event with leaders from two institutions signing the document at the same time together or virtually. The leaders and program directors often share brief comments about the importance of the MoU and hopes for future collaboration. See an example here of a UMB MoU signing with the University of Costa Rica.