Although there are different types of partnership agreements, all are developed through a multi-step process.

1. Considering an Agreement

Partnership agreements usually develop out of:

  • Collaboration between faculty at UWM and the potential partner;
  • Requests from UWM’s existing partners for new forms of collaboration;
  • Requests from institutions visiting UWM or visited by UWM personnel;
  • Unsolicited correspondence to UWM from institutions interested in partnerships.

Discussions about potential agreements should first consider whether or not an agreement is needed. For instance, formal agreements are not required for:

  • Exploratory conversations about possible collaborative activities;
  • Many types of collaborative research, faculty exchange, and cooperative teaching and curriculum development.

Key considerations in determining whether an agreement is needed include:

  • Resource commitments: collaboration that involves formal, ongoing commitment of resources requires an agreement.
  • Student mobility: generally, collaboration that sends and/or receives students requires an agreement.
  • Faculty engagement: collaboration that goes beyond an individual faculty member to involve a program, department, school/college, or the UWM campus, may require an agreement.
  • Grants: funding organizations may require formal documentation of collaboration, such as an through agreement (most often this is coordinated through the Office of Sponsored Programs and thus does not follow the inter-institutional partnership agreements process).

When considering an agreement, it is important to understand the potential partner’s expectations, motivations and institutional requirements, which may differ from UWM’s, while at the same time retaining a commitment to UWM’s own interests.

If it is determined that a formal agreement is indeed appropriate, the agreement’s form should be chosen based on consideration of possible types of partnership agreements.

2. Agreement Development

After the general type of agreement is determined, the agreement is circulated between UWM and its partner to develop basic language and provisions.*

  • The initial version of the agreement may be supplied by UWM or the partner, but the use of the partner’s template may increase the length of the development and review process.
  • CIE coordinates agreement circulation on behalf of UWM, involving the Office of Legal Affairs, and the sponsoring unit and faculty or staff member as needed.
  • Due to the respective needs, policies and understandings of the two institutional parties, the development stage can take many weeks or even months.

* As per UWM Policy SS-33.5, provided they use the template that has been approved by the Office of Legal Affairs and the Overseas Programs and Partnerships (OPP) Advisory Committee, MOIs do not require further campus review prior to signing.

3. Formal Review & Approval

Agreements move through each institution’s review and approval process. At UWM, this process is per UWM Policy SS-33.5:

  1. CIE review (partnerships staff, with international admissions, immigration, or study abroad as needed)
  2. Office of Legal Affairs review and approval
  3. Overseas Programs and Partnerships (OPP) Advisory Committee review and approval
    • Proposed agreements must be accompanied by a report describing the UWM dept(s) sponsoring the agreement, the proposed collaborating institution(s), previous interactions and affiliations with proposed collaborator(s), if any, and the nature and purpose of the agreement.
    • Committee reviews agreements only twice per semester.
4. Finalization

After the precise language and terms of the agreement have been approved by both institutions, the agreement advances to the Finalization Stage

  1. Two copies of the agreement are printed either by CIE or its counterpart at the partner institution.
  2. Depending on where the copies originate, CIE or its counterpart coordinates the initial signature(s) and then distributes the copies to the partner institution for the final signature(s).
    • At UWM, with the exception of the MOI (which may be signed by somebody at the dean’s level or above), all agreements must be signed by the Provost or Chancellor.
    • Secondary signatures, such as those of a dean, department head or sponsoring faculty member, are usually not included but are an option.
  3. When the agreement is finalized with signatures from both UWM and the partner institution, one signed original copy is retained by each institution.
    • At UWM, the finalized copies are stored by CIE in both original paper and digital forms.

UWM Policy SS-33.5
(guidelines for negotiating and entering into inter-institutional agreements; please review prior to contacting CIE)

Guide to Understanding International Academic Program and Course Collaborations
(provides partnership agreement options, including agreement types and processes)

International Partnerships Strategic Plan
(macro-level discussion of agreements and how their selection, development and maintenance relates to UWM’s institutional needs and goals)

For More Information

Tracy Buss
Garland Hall 110
+1 414-229-5381
tbuss@uwm.edu