Approved by the: University Senate - February 24, 2000
Administration - March 9, 2000
Board of Regents - No action required



International activities and academic mobility occur without formal linkages and exchanges, and they are encouraged wherever those relationships fulfill the University's mission of teaching, research and service. In most instances, such activities are undertaken as a regular part of University activity, and individuals participating in them are guided by the normal standards of academic behavior.

There are many ways in which cooperation between individuals and units of the University of Minnesota and foreign academic institutions can take place. One form of cooperation is the exchange agreement, under which both formal, university-to-university agreements comprising faculty, student and research collaboration as well as less formal departmental or collegiate activities are proposed.

A university-wide exchange agreement is an enabling document providing for mutual benefits and reciprocal obligations, but it is not tied to specification of the involvement of particular numbers of persons or resources. Individual members of the University community and units of the University are free to enter into exchange agreements, provided that the individuals or units involved explicitly indicate that they are not representing a wider university community. No agreement precludes a similar arrangement with any other institution.

Most successful faculty exchanges are driven by common academic interests between one department or college and a counterpart at a foreign university. University-wide exchanges entail an institution-wide commitment and should not be undertaken without assessment of the need, scope and funding for such an agreement. The Office of International Programs (OIP) acts as a clearinghouse and registry for exchange agreements, and can advise regarding existing agreements and strategies for developing relationships.

International activities also occur in ways that do not involve exchange agreements. Such activities could include contracts with agencies or universities or contracts or agreements that sponsor foreign students to study at the University of Minnesota. These activities are not considered to be exchange agreements although they promote international exchange at large.


General University policies and rules of conduct apply to all students, faculty, and staff while participating in a University exchange program. Both institutions involved should subscribe to the principle of academic freedom.

While all exchanges are begun with the expectation that there will be continuing interest on the part of both institutions, all agreements should include a provision for review, for continuation or closure, every three to five years.

Many exchanges operate under a principle of reciprocity. For faculty exchanges, this means that small, informal exchanges need not require external funding. Although there may be no cash outlay other than travel support, the in-kind contributions of office space and administrative support should be considered. For some student exchanges, the reciprocity principle involves each student paying the tuition of the home university. This tuition is "banked" to pay the tuition of the incoming international student. Because of the financial implications of an imbalance created by lack of student demand, there should be a clear and continuing need for any bilateral exchange program.


There are many kinds of projects, linkages and relationships that define the international character of the University. Although the term "exchange" is used to define a variety of international connections, the University of Minnesota identifies three types of exchanges: comprehensive university-wide exchanges, faculty exchanges, and student exchanges. (Student exchanges are a subset of a larger study abroad program at the University of Minnesota. Most students going abroad select an organized program rather than a reciprocal exchange.)


Comprehensive All-University Exchanges

All-University exchange agreements should be proposed only when the purposes of the agreement cannot be satisfactorily carried out under the purview of a particular college or unit. Several historical relationships are currently maintained, and from time to time, new agreements are signed to meet larger institutional goals. For example, the president may sign a general, comprehensive agreement that includes faculty, students, research and information exchange. Such agreements allow for individuals and departments to connect with counterparts abroad, but do not force participation of an individual, department or college. These types of agreements are usually drafted as general establishing documents that permit interested units to develop detailed academic collaborations and projects.

Faculty Exchanges (not part of all-university agreements)

Faculty exchanges should be made at the level of the responsible University unit. There should be a legitimate area of common academic and scholarly concern, and the agreement should be demonstrated to be mutually beneficial. The agreement cannot obligate individual participation, and University resources committed under the agreement should be limited to those approved by the units involved in the agreement. At the department level, exchanges may include participation of faculty, research collaboration or information exchange. In addition, they may include informal participation of both undergraduate and graduate students.

Initially it is important to address academic benefits to the University of Minnesota and identify the home and partner institution's strengths relative to the proposed exchange. The linkage should fit within the mission of the University and offer a comparative advantage in relationship to any existing exchange programs.

Planning and matching interests with the foreign institution, or unit of such an institution, is the most important step in establishing a relationship. Exchanges should match at the appropriate institutional level; that is, departments and colleges should assess participant expectations in both institutions to ensure that the University of Minnesota's interest in a particular academic department or unit, is matched appropriately by the foreign institution.

Developing and maintaining an institutional relationship beyond individual academic interests and connections requires planning and commitment by the department or college initiating the exchange. Meeting the expectations of both exchange institutions requires an ongoing commitment of financial and human resources. If the proposed exchange is intended at the department or college level, the chair or dean should be the final approving authority for any resources committed or agreements made on behalf of the department or college. The Office of International Programs can provide sample agreements to serve as guides. OIP Staff is also available to review draft agreements.

In some cases, to meet legal requirements or leverage funds, the foreign institution may request a presidential signature from University of Minnesota, even though the exchange is based within a department or college. This is an appropriate request and OIP can facilitate a presidential signature.

Once finalized or signed, all agreements should be registered with OIP for inclusion in the University's international exchange database. Small ad hoc agreements and exchanges need not be elaborately documented on paper. However, the use of tested guidelines for planning exchanges are useful for even the smallest continuing collaboration.

Reciprocal Student Exchanges

All-University student exchanges. Although each campus of the University of Minnesota may establish its own exchange agreements, student exchanges open to all University students are administered by The Global Campus, a unit of OIP. The Global Campus negotiates agreements, organizes programs, and provides advising and academic services for students who wish to earn credit on an exchange program. Because of the large number of sites already available for reciprocal student exchanges and other study abroad opportunities, The Global Campus is not actively seeking to establish new university-wide student exchange agreements.

Unit-specific student exchanges. The Global Campus can offer guidelines, services and cost comparisons to departments and colleges that want to encourage study abroad experiences by promoting participation in international programs. Many existing opportunities can be tailored to the specific academic interests of departments. Developing a new exchange program should only be considered after reviewing currently available options, including other sorts of study abroad programs, with The Global Campus.

Graduate-student exchanges. Graduate student exchanges have no central administrative home, but may be organized by individual departments or colleges. The Office of International Programs can assist departments in developing such relationships.


The Office of International Programs acts as a registry and clearinghouse for exchange agreements and provides assistance to faculty, departments and colleges in developing exchange relationships and agreements.

On an annual basis, the Office of International Programs will report to the Senate Committee on Educational Policy regarding international activities of the University. The report will include information on new exchange agreements, study abroad participation, as well as international priorities and strategies of the University. The report will be used to surface issues of concern and policy matters relevant to faculty involvement in the University's international programs. The Office of International Programs will also respond to specific SCEP requests for information.

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