Exchange Agreement Criteria

Whenever any unit of UNC Charlotte enters into an exchange relationship with a university or other institution located outside the territorial boundaries of the United States of America that involves, or might lead to, commitments of university resources of any kind, UNC Charlotte must sign a written agreement with the partner university. Such agreements are referred to as “Exchange Agreements.” These procedures apply to all Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), Faculty Exchange Agreements, and Student Exchange Agreements coordinated at UNC Charlotte.

An exchange relationship should be formalized under an Exchange Agreement if it involves any of the following components:

  • The assignment of administrative staff, faculty, or graduate student (e.g., research assistant or project assistant) support on an ongoing basis;
  • The commitment of institutional funds (e.g., departmental, school, or college funding) on an ongoing basis;
  • The exchange of faculty, staff, or students; or
  • Extramural funding for research collaborations that presume/require specific institution-to-institution agreements.

These procedures are intended to govern Exchange Agreements only. They are not intended to include the following types of arrangements:

  • Development of projects for assistance and technical assistance related to research;
  • Relationships described and approved in their entirety through another campus agency (e.g., grant funded projects);
  • Visiting professorships and lectureships (e.g., Fulbright program);
  • Brief visiting lectureships or informal exchanges (e.g., guest departmental lectures even if an honorarium is provided to the visiting speaker); or
  • Relationships in which departments/units do not commit more than hospitality or the volunteer efforts of faculty or staff.

Questions about the applicability of these procedures to specific proposals or projects that are not exchange agreements should be addressed to the Office of International Programs. Details about visiting scholars are available on the International Student and Scholar Office website.


An International Exchange Agreement is a written document outlining the terms and conditions providing for an exchange of faculty, staff, or research activity between UNC Charlotte and a university or other institution located outside the territorial boundaries of the United States of America.

Exchange Agreements may be negotiated department-to-department, college-to-college, or in a broad-based institutional capacity. An agreement that stipulates an actual exchange of students, faculty, and/or research initiatives requires a formal Exchange Agreement. An agreement that reflects general collaboration without specific exchange components does not need an Exchange Agreement to establish the relationship. Formal Exchange Agreements stipulate the details and implementation procedures for a specific program of exchange or collaboration and may in some cases involve a commitment of resources.

The academic population targeted in the Exchange Agreement determines whether a Student Exchange Agreement or a Faculty Exchange Agreement is appropriate.

A Student Exchange Agreement is an international exchange agreement designed to benefit and include a mutual exchange of students between institutions for a term exceeding two years.

A Faculty Exchange Agreement is an international exchange agreement designed to benefit and include a mutual exchange of faculty or research initiatives between institutions for a term exceeding two years.

A Pilot Exchange Agreement usually lasts for two years and allows both institutions to review their involvement before making a more substantial time commitment. In many cases, a Pilot Exchange Agreement will be implemented prior to a long-term Student or Faculty Exchange Agreement.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recognizes a shared interest between parties in exploring together potential projects, funding, or other arrangements that may lead to specific projects in the future; no clear projects or plans are delineated. MOUs are preliminary ceremonial documents drafted to reflect or promote good will between the parties and the intention to solidify specific obligations and commitments in an Exchange Agreement at a later date. However, an MOU is still a legally binding contract subject to the same authorization and campus approval procedures as a more specific Exchange Agreement.

Specific Exchange Agreements that implement an actual exchange specify the obligations and commitments of each party. Thus, a well-written, specific Exchange Agreement is always preferable to an MOU because it reflects a genuine relationship, implements a real collaboration, and tends not to generate unrealistic expectations or misunderstandings between the parties.


The Office of International Programs (OIP) provides consulting, review, and authorization services for any UNC Charlotte unit seeking to formalize an exchange relationship with an international counterpart. The exchange process is a collaborative effort among various academic entities of UNC Charlotte, individual faculty and staff, research groups, departments, schools, and colleges. Such entities are the engines that drive the establishment of relationships and that support them both intellectually and in terms of sustained interest.

Specifically, OIP provides the following assistance regarding the drafting and procurement of international Exchange Agreements:

  • Consults with academic entities and the Office of Legal Affairs on the establishment and terms of international agreements;
  • Provides assistance in drafting agreements and in developing negotiation strategies;
  • Assesses proposals to protect the proposing unit and the institution from unforeseen financial and administrative consequences, including review consultation with legal counsel; and
  • Serves as the main review and approval authority for UNC Charlotte international Exchange Agreements, as the Chancellor’s and Provost’s designee.

Note: On an annual basis OIP conducts an annual review of all Exchange Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding established at UNC Charlotte in order to ensure the appropriate level of sustained activity and ongoing viability. Reports are submitted to the Office of Assessment and Accreditation.