Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where can I find information on the international agreement development and approval process?

    The Developing an International Agreement section of the OIA website provides all the information you need to initiate an international agreement. Click Information for UC San Diego Faculty and Departments for specific guidelines and the required form to begin the agreement development process.

  2. What kinds of collaborations require a formal written agreement?

    UC San Diego enters into agreements that support the interests of faculty and academic units in furthering international research and academic work. Formal written agreements are required whenever an international collaboration involves the following:

    1. The ongoing exchange of students between collaborating institutions
    2. The ongoing commitment of university resources (e.g. funding, space, lab equipment, etc.)

    Some examples of collegial affiliations that do not require a formal institutional agreement:

    1. Inviting a visiting international student to campus for research purposes
    2. One time meetings, special events and conferences
  3. How are agreements initiated and administered?

    Agreements may be initiated by UC San Diego faculty or departments, or by an international university or institution. UC San Diego affiliates should refer to the section on Information for UC San Diego Faculty and Departments for additional information. Potential international partners should visit Information for Foreign Institutions Seeking Collaboration with UC San Diego. Both sections provide detailed information on UC San Diego’s international agreement development process.

    The UC San Diego faculty member affiliated with the collaboration is the responsible party at UC San Diego for providing the oversight and administration of all activities specified in the agreement.

  4. What elements should be included in a written agreement?

    MOU and collaboration agreement templates take the guess work out of what should go into these documents. The templates have been reviewed and approved by the offices of Campus Counsel, Academic Affairs, Research and Graduate Studies. They include all necessary clauses to ensure compliance with UC San Diego and UC policies and standards. Additionally, utilizing the language in the templates will minimize the time necessary for edits, reviews and approvals. That said, the following elements are required in all international agreements:

    Partners: All agreements must: 1. Name the UC Regents as the responsible party on behalf of UC San Diego, and 2. Specify the UC San Diego and international partner departments participating in the collaboration.

    Legal clauses: Collaboration agreements must include clauses IX – XVI in the collaboration agreement template.

    Reviews: Collaboration agreements must state that the agreement will be reviewed prior to the expiration date to determine whether it will be renewed in its current form, modified, or allowed to expire.

    Agreement oversight and administration: An agreement must identify the UC San Diego and partner faculty members who will provide oversight and administration of all activities carried out under the agreement. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that activities receive approval from their department chair or unit director and comply with University regulations.

    Sunset clause: Agreements must specify a start and end date. Most agreements are made for a period of three to five years, with the possibility of renewal for another term pending the written agreement of both parties.

  5. When should I use the MOU template vs. the collaboration agreement template?

    While there are many varieties of formal agreements for international collaborations, UC San Diego employs two primary types: the MOU and collaboration agreement. Appropriate approval and authorization is required for both.

    The memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a non-legally binding document that states a general desire to cooperate in certain broad areas. The MOU makes no promises on behalf of UC San Diego, and states that both parties will enter into specific written agreements that define the nature and terms of proposed collaborations. The MOU format is recommended when partner institutions are either in the initial stages of collaborative discussions or when partners do not wish to commit to specific undertakings.

    The collaboration agreement specifies commitments for cooperation, exchanges, or other intellectual pursuits. Collaboration agreements must be entered into with careful consideration, as they define commitments of resources, acceptance of obligations, and are legally binding.

  6. How do I get an editable copy of the MOU and collaboration agreement templates?

    After submitting the International Agreement Review Sheet with the necessary signatures, OIA will provide editable versions of the MOU and collaboration agreement templates. To discourage the drafting of international agreements without the oversight and approval of OIA, the editable templates are not posted online.

  7. What about Letters of Intent (LOI)?

    UC San Diego is occasionally approached by other institutions who want to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) to formalize the intention to discuss potential collaborations at a future point in time. LOI are not standard at UC San Diego. The MOU template, which contains language approved by the offices of Campus Counsel, Academic Affairs, Research and Graduate Studies, is the preferred form for general collaborations that require further discussion. Requests for LOI are handled on a case-by-case basis.

  8. When do collaborations involve the Office of Contract and Grant Administration (OCGA)?

    International activity may be initiated through relationships that involve student exchanges. Such relationships may also involve research collaborations or sponsored research projects. Depending upon the terms of the agreement and the primary focus of the project (student exchange versus research), such agreements may be appropriately handled by either the Office of International Affairs or the Office of Contract and Grant Administration (OCGA). The determination of which office will take primary responsibility for the agreement is made after consultation between both offices. If you believe that the primary focus of your desired international relationship is student exchange, please contact Michelle Hermas at the Office of International Affairs. She can be reached by email at and telephone at 858.822.4739. If the project's primary focus is research, please contact OCGA. The OCGA contact, Jennifer J. Ford, can be reached by email at and by telephone at 858.534.3335.

  9. What about proposals from partner institutions?

    UC San Diego recognizes that partner institutions may also have developed standard language and formats for international agreements. While OIA will review international agreements regardless of the source, utilizing the language provided in the MOU and collaboration agreement templates will minimize the time necessary for edits, reviews and approvals. If a UC San Diego faculty or staff member is approached by a partner institution to review their MOU or agreement template, please refer them to the OIA website to review UC San Diego’s templates. Ask the partner institution to highlight the required language in their template and to highlight language in the UC San Diego template that they prefer to remove. You may email these documents to Michelle Hermas at for review and recommendations.

  10. What is an agreement signing cermony and how should I handle this type of request?

    Signing ceremonies are events in which some or all signatories to an agreement meet in person to sign the document. Such events are generally proposed for purposes of goodwill. They are not required to implement an agreement. The decision to host or attend a signing ceremony is up to the faculty representative named in the agreement and leadership within their unit. Some factors to weigh when choosing whether to host a signing ceremony on our campus, or to attend a ceremony abroad, include:

    Funding: there is no central funding available to support signing ceremonies. The faculty representative is responsible for consulting with unit leadership, and the Office of Contract and Grant Administration as needed, to determine whether any proposed expenditure of funds is appropriate.

    Logistical support: there is no central office that provides supportive services for signing ceremonies. The faculty representative is responsible for coordinating signing ceremonies that are proposed to occur at UC San Diego.

    See Guidelines on Signing Ceremonies for International Agreements for guidance on hosting a signing ceremony on our campus.