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Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)

Memoranda of Understanding (or Co-operation) set out opportunities for collaboration and positive academic engagement between universities to mutual benefit, without establishing a formal legal relationship between the two institutions.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) may include, for example, a commitment to explore potential for:

  • co-operation on new or existing academic programmes,
  • the development of joint research activities,
  • staff exchange or mutual visits to both institutions,
  • doctoral student training and development,
  • student exchange, and/or
  • the exchange of information in the form of publications and journals, reference materials and other results of teaching and research, and / or
  • any other activities viewed to be potentially beneficial.


Is an MoU necessary?

Although viewed as a starting point for international partnership development in many countries, it may not always be necessary to sign an MoU. It is preferable to avoid creating an MoU unless clear strands of partnership activity have been identified and negotiations are at an advanced stage. If appropriate, it is also possible to proceed directly to the agreement relevant to the specific type of partnership without an MoU. However, it is recognised that for some institutions, an MoU is a pre-requisite to start discussions on collaborative activity.



Guidance for Memoranda of Understanding


1.1 Initial approval
The initial approval process should be undertaken for all partnerships except those solely for research collaboration, and completed prior to proceeding with any MoU.


1.2 Drafting an MoU
Once an initial approval request has been approved, the International Partnerships team will draft an MoU and support the proposer in negotiations with the partner on this. The collaborative activities listed can be added to if necessary, or items removed, although a broad list is favoured to avoid the MoU requiring revision if further areas of collaboration develop.

Once the agreement has been finalised, it will be submitted to the Academic Counsel and Faculty of Life Science Office for the approval and signature of the Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) (for partnerships relating to student mobility, teaching or recruitment) or Pro Vice-Chancellor (for institutional partnerships that may also have a research component).

As a general rule, agreements should be at institutional level (between universities), rather than at school or department level. If the collaborative activity is focused on particular academic units, however, it may be appropriate for these to be listed on the MoU in addition to the two universities, and for the heads of the respective schools/departments/centres to countersign the agreement. A term of three years is normally recommended for Memoranda of Understanding. 


1.3 Escalation of an MoU
It is hoped an MoU will lead to proposals for more substantial collaborative activity, e.g. research collaboration, or progression, articulation or Study Abroad agreements. Once the type of partnership has been defined, the appropriate guidance should be followed for developing a formal agreement. It is important to ensure an MoU does not escalate into a more complex partnership arrangement without the necessary approval being sought and relevant legal agreements being developed to underpin revised arrangements.


1.4 Ongoing monitoring
The proposer of the partnership listed on the initial approval request form (or their nominated substitute) will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the MoU, including maintaining regular contact with the partner institution and reviewing the arrangement on an annual basis. He/She may be required to report to relevant committees or boards on the arrangement, as necessary.


1.5 Termination or expiry of an MoU
Either institution may terminate the MoU or cease to pursue the objectives of the agreement at any time, subject to an agreed notice period. If the MoU is inactive or defunct, the proposer should seek to formally terminate the agreement. He/She can notify the Faculty Office/ Academic Counsel, who will inform the partner of the intention to terminate the MoU in writing and log the cessation of the agreement.