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. The Office of Corporate and Global Partnerships (OCGP) 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 Information Collection Form (IC Form) is designed to assess if an agreement is necessary and to determine 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. 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. The RPS is processed based on the information that the faculty/staff member provides in the IC Form.

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. (LOI template) See drafting and approval process (left tab).

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 MOU template. See drafting and approval process (left tab).

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 OCGP and the respective GAC representative to ensure the activity content that they want included in the AA is defined before OCGP seeking the assistance of SPS. While an MOU often serves as an “umbrella” document formalizing a non-binding institutional partnership, an AA can serve 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 (left tab).

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.


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