Developing Institutional Agreements
Establishing Agreements between International Institutions and Purdue University
There are essentially three types of written "agreements" which structure international institutional partnership activities at Purdue University: Letter of Intent (LOI), Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Activity Agreement (AA). Each document is designed to facilitate a particular purpose as described below. Activities described in these documents should be mutually beneficial and consistent with the goals and strategic plans of participating colleges, departments, centers and/or programs. Particularly for agreements involving multiple colleges, the activities should be aligned with Purdue's strategic plan. International Programs (IP) is prepared to assist interested parties with any questions related to establishing an institutional agreement or determining which document is most appropriate. Establishing productive, sustainable institutional relationships can be a challenging experience, even for the seasoned higher education administrator or faculty member. The attached Information Collection Form (ICF) is designed to assess if an agreement is necessary and to also determining the appropriate agreement to pursue, if one is appropriate. (IC Form) Except in the case when agreements obligate Purdue to provide financial or other resources, such as Student Exchange Agreements (SEAs) or Activity Agreements (AAs), Purdue does not require that partnership activities be formalized through any of these instruments. It is more often the case that international partner institutions require agreements for their own administrative and prestige purposes.
Prior to entering into a Letter of Intent (LOI), Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Activity Agreement (AA) with an international institution, a query of Restricted Persons/Parties (RPS) lists maintained by federal agencies must be performed by Sponsored Program Services (SPS). This search will assist in identifying persons (individuals and companies) convicted of export control violations, debarred from federal funding, or otherwise prohibited from doing business with the US. If RPS clearance is obtained, then the faculty/staff member completes the Information Collection Form (ICF). The ICF is sent to International Programs (IP), Sponsored Programs Services (SPS), and the respective Global Affairs Committee ( GAC) representative.
1) A Letter of Intent (LOI) is an official document designed to inform administrators, faculty and other institutional constituents that there is sufficient interest to at least explore, and in some cases pursue, modes of collaboration in the future. Generally, an LOI is appropriate at early stages of defining potential partnership activities. Purdue’s standard LOI does not contain specific and binding institutional commitments. As such commitments are defined, they would be spelled out in separate Activity Agreements (see below). Purdue’s standard LOI template may be signed by administrators for participating units (department head/dean/provost or center director or their designee) without advance approval, provided that it is not altered or edited, the legal provisions remain intact, and the RPS has been completed. If any alterations or edits of this document are made, they must be approved in advance by both International Programs (IP) and Sponsored Programs Services (SPS). (LOI example) See drafting and approval process below.
2) A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an official document designed to inform administrators, faculty and other institutional constituents of reciprocal resolve to engage in sustainable partnership activities. An MOU is generally broader and more formal than an LOI, with the potential for partnerships involving multiple faculty/staff members or multiple departments at both institutions. In most cases, Purdue’s concept of MOUs is that they do not contain specific and binding institutional commitments, but rather such commitments would be spelled out in separate Activity Agreements (see below). Please see the example template. (MOU example). See drafting and approval process below.
3) An Activity Agreement (AA) is an official document designed to inform administrators, faculty and other institutional constituents that the partnership has reached a stage where institutions commit the time and resources needed to develop and support specific tangible activities. Normally, an academic dean, department head, center director or their designee will generate internal documentation of the financial/resource commitments and interact with IP and the respective GAC representative to craft the AA to assure appropriate language is used prior to the review conducted by SPS. While an MOU often serves as an “umbrella” document formalizing a non-binding institutional partnership, an AA serves as an addendum that describes specific institutional commitments. An AA can also serve as a stand-alone document. Signing an MOU is thus not a pre-requisite for signing an AA. Please see the example AA template. (AA example). See drafting and approval process below.
Note: A Student Exchange Agreement is an example of a very specific type of Activity Agreement. Please consult the Office of Programs for Study Abroad for procedures for and issues related to Student Exchange Agreements.