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Our office helps university departments and business units develop and evaluate international partnerships.

If you are interested in developing a new global partnership or initiative, contact our office. We can help you develop a plan for establishing the partnership and create a business plan for the initiative. We will also work through the process of internal review and approvals.

We have developed International Partnership Guidelines (pdf) and processes to help Lehigh University colleges, departments and programs establish meaningful institution-to-institution relationships for the benefit of Lehigh students, faculty and staff. Because institution-to-institution agreements may be binding legal contracts, it is important to enter into them with seriousness and care. Please review the following criteria for initiating new partnerships and the procedures for proposing a new partnership and evaluating and renewing existing agreements.

Section 1

Criteria to Consider Before Initiating a New Partnership

Academic rigor of the proposed institution

  • Are academic standards compatible with Lehigh’s?
  • Do faculty and programs enjoy a well-known reputation for excellence?
  • Does the partnership have the potential to advance Lehigh’s research endeavors?
  • What is the institution’s strategic plan? How does it fit with Lehigh’s?


Existing successful programs

  • Does Lehigh already have programs and initiatives in place that would benefit from the partnership?
  • Is there an existing faculty connection with the proposed partner?
  • What are initial projects that require an MOU/agreement and will launch the partnership?


Partnership sustainability

  • Is there significant student/staff/faculty interest in engagement with this institution?
  • Is this partnership viable in light of the current political climate/world events?
  • Do both academic calendars allow for traditional and non-traditional interaction/mobility between faculty and students?
  • What are the anticipated outcomes of a partnership? How will its effectiveness be measured?
  • What are the first activities for this partnership that build understanding at lower cost and risk?


Overlap with existing partnerships

  • Does it compete with similar partnerships?
  • Does it address a gap in existing partnerships?
  • How does it leverage existing partnerships or institutional strengths?


Partner institutional capacity

  • Does the partner’s curriculum match Lehigh's needs?
  • Are academic calendars compatible?
  • What is the language of instruction? Language support?
  • Does the partner have administrative support to facilitate the agreement?
  • Are there any safety concerns?
  • Is the planned activity legal for both partners to undertake?



  • Is there department/college/etc. commitment to provide resources?
  • What resources is the partner offering?
  • Is external support available?
  • What are the cost advantages of developing this partnership?
  • What support is available—faculty release time, travel for site visits, accommodations for visiting scholars, etc.?


Outcomes and expected level of activity

  • What are the first activities that build understanding at lower cost and risk?
  • What is a reasonable level of activity for this full developed partnership?
  • Has it demonstrated potential for interdisciplinary activities in the future (engaging more than one Lehigh unit or department)?


Institutional monitoring

  • Who is the Lehigh faculty member willing to sponsor the agreement?
  • What is the term for agreement review (maximum term is five years)?

Section 2

Types of Agreements

General Memorandum of Understanding agreement (MOU)

  • To establish a relationship when both institutions believe a formal statement of interest would be an appropriate step
  • Establishes a framework and states the intention of exploring potential for collaborative activities in different academic or research areas
  • Does not include specific activities (those, like student exchange for example, must be implemented through addenda or separate agreements)
  • Identifies and informs both parties about institutional concerns such as restrictions on immigration, technology transfers and intellectual property


Reciprocal Student Exchanges (RSE)/Bilateral Exchange agreement

  • Provides for equal exchange of students between both parties
  • Outlines financial, accreditation and immigration implications, with the exception of tuition costs (RSE participants pay their home tuition)


Short-Term Education Abroad agreement

  • Details activities associated with semester abroad, short term faculty-led programs and internships
  • Outlines program implementation expectations from both parties

**Programs must be approved by academic departments and follow policies and procedures established by the Office of International Affairs.


Research, Technical or Scientific Cooperation agreement

  • Outlines the responsibilities and implementation procedures for faculty, researcher or administrator exchange between parties
  • Must include approved financial and logistical implications


Graduate Studies agreement

  • Involving or related to graduate students
  • Must be developed in coordination with college students are enrolled in


Dual Degree agreement

  • Provides structure for students to receive two existing degrees, one from each partner institution
  • Course articulation and program coordination is required to allow for credit transfer according to existing undergraduate and graduate policies


Important Agreement Considerations

  • Some previous faculty or staff interaction between the proposed partner institutions
  • Strong potential for mutual benefit
  • Compliance with applicable legal restrictions and university regulations
  • Secured financial and infrastructure support (as necessary)
  • Identified on-site coordinators or contact persons at each institution
  • Stated support from all colleges, departments and programs explicitly named in the agreement
  • A plan for regular program evaluation and renewal

Section 3

The New Partnership Process

Lehigh faculty and staff interested in proposing an international partnership should follow this process.

  1. To initiate a partnership, Lehigh University units, individual faculty or staff must first complete the New Partnership form in the Global Engagement Directory. 
  2. The Director of Global Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives will gather information and discuss with appropriate units the viability of the partnership and will then draft the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) or other international agreement based on this proposal.
  3. Agreements will be reviewed by the Faculty Committee on Global Affairs. The purpose of this step is to ensure that all the key questions have been answered, to check for duplication and to identify opportunities for collaboration and network building.
  4. Depending on the type of agreement, the relevant dean(s), department head and others impacted will the review the document.
  5. The document will be submitted to General Counsel for legal review.
  6. The Vice President/Vice Provost for International Affairs will make the final decision regarding the international agreement.
  7. The director will make sure the document is signed and sent to the appropriate parties.
  8. All related activity will be documented in the Global Engagement Directory and assessed on an annual basis.

Every agreement should have at least one designated Lehigh University contact. The designated contact(s) will be required to submit a brief annual report to the Vice President/Vice Provost for International Affairs summarizing activities completed under the terms of the international agreement.

Section 4

Renewing Partnership Agreements

Each agreement will have a five-year term. GPSI and the Faculty Committee on Global Affairs will evaluate each agreement on an annual basis for the following measures of success:

  • Level of activity
  • Student mobility
  • Faculty mobility
  • Faculty research, publications
  • Shared grants