International academic collaboration is a learning experience, and it brings diversity to campuses. However, establishing workable international academic collaboration agreements requires trust. Trust is built over time through clear, multilevel, unambiguous communications efforts that convey sincerity.
There is much more to effective international communications than overcoming simple language barriers. There are cultural differences, custom challenges, business practices, and conflicting government regulations to consider before moving forward. In fact, if not managed properly, international academic collaboration can just as easily turn disastrous.
Take for example what transpired just a few years ago at a state-supported university in North Dakota. They are said to have awarded degrees to 584 international students who did not complete their course work. Most of these students were from China, where U.S. schools are often misrepresented by unethical recruiting agents. An audit revealed that the university had entered into international academic agreements that did not comply with requirements set by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education and the Learning Higher Commission.
Common Mistakes to Avoid Prior to Entering into Academic Collaboration or an MOU Agreement
Things can go wrong in proceeding with academic collaboration and MOU agreements if not thought through. Here are a few suggestions to help you avoid mistakes.
- Do your research! For better or worse, your potential partner school’s reputation will impact your school’s credibility.
- Ensure that both schools’ majors and programs meet accreditation boards’ requirements allowing transfer credits.
- Expect the negotiation process to be involved, complex, and a prolonged. Be patient! Understand that nothing of substance is gained by a few short visits to any Asian campus.
- Appoint a delegation to monitor progress, and keep detailed records of all contacts and contents, and require regular updates. It’s important your administration stays focused and on-track, and that nothing of substance gets lost in the negotiation process.
- Review and Evaluate agreement for inaccuracies, and potential liabilities before signing
Things that May Derail International Academic Collaboration
Here are a few common mistakes made because of misconceptions, and miscalculations U.S. schools have of international MOU agreements. These include:
- Expecting immediate results,
- Viewing signed agreements as an achievement and end-goal, subsequently ending all communications,
- Ambivalence; neglecting to maintain relationships with partner schools through concerted communications efforts,
- Assuming partner schools work with exclusively with you,
- Persistent failure to respond to partner schools’ requests in a timely manner, making them feel as if they are undervalued and disrespected,
- Designating personnel with no interest in international relations to handle partner schools and their students, and
- Delegating responsibility for maintaining Asian partner school relationships to someone who holds preconceived stereotypes.
(Author: Tanya T. Gray; Editor: T. Gray)