Cooperative agreements are a written statement of a mutual interest in academic or research collaboration but which do not do not commit either party to any specific obligations, including use of university resources.
Most collaborative activities between faculty and researchers from diverse international institutions — including research visits, co-publication, etc. — do not require a formal agreement. Because the development of any international agreement involves significant effort, FSU prefers that cooperative agreements are held to a minimum. However, at times, a Cooperative Agreement might be required by the foreign institution as a precursor to other activity or there is another need to formalize existing collaborations between FSU and an international institution of similar academic standing.
Cooperative agreements serves as an official framework for exploring partnership activities and identify future endeavors. If a specific collaborative project is identified between the two institutions, an addendum or additional agreement must be developed to outline the details of the project.
Cooperative agreements do not encumber or expend university E&G funds or commit the faculty member, department or college to budgetary outlays. The department/college may decide to provide some level of support for activities that arise out of a general agreement, such as providing support for an international conference or visiting scholars by providing participants with office space, library access, etc. in keeping FSU policy. However, nothing in the actual agreement commits them to doing so.
Cooperative agreements are only valid for a specific period of time (usually 5 years) after which the agreement will be evaluated and then renewed, revised or terminated. They are signed at the institutional level to cover general collaborative activities of any of the institutions' units but can also be executed between specific colleges, departments or units.
FSU faculty and research students may visit an international institution for research purposes with or without a cooperative agreement, providing they follow FSU policy and procedures to gain approval. In addition, incoming faculty and research students may visit FSU for research purposes with or without a cooperative agreement.
A cooperative agreement is intended for:
- Departments planning to create a durable partnership. For instance, when the intent is to collaborate on a specific project over time or if there are plans for multiple visits by the same person or by different faculty/researchers from the same institution over a period of time. If a faculty member or department only wants to invite a scholar/researcher to visit for a short time, and this is the extent of the proposed partnership then a formal cooperative agreement is not necessary, because a FSU faculty member or department can issue an invitation for an international scholar to visit FSU without having an agreement.
- International visitors whose home institution or funding body requires a formal agreement. However, a cooperative agreement does not take the place of a letter of invitation to the visitor. The hosting faculty/department is required to issue the letter of invitation and to complete all of the required forms and procedures to invite the visitor to FSU.
- Partners which require a signed cooperative agreement before opening discussions for another kind of agreement, contract, or grant. For instance, FSU's international partner may ask for a general agreement before or in conjunction with the development of a student exchange agreement or an external funding agency may require a general agreement between the institutions of researchers who are making a joint application for a grant, to demonstrate institutional support for the proposal. FSU does not require that a cooperative agreement be signed prior or in conjunction with the development of a student exchange agreement.
Cooperative agreements are not appropriate for cooperation involving full-time students enrolling at the partner institutions for credit. They are also not an appropriate vehicle for bringing in visiting scholars and/or international students who wish to take a full class load at FSU. Visiting scholars and research students enrolled at another university may come to FSU and use FSU's research facilities, participate in departmental research activities, and receive advice and mentoring from an FSU faculty member. However, if a visitor coming under a cooperative agreement wants to audit or take classes at FSU for credit, s/he is required to register through admissions and pay the applicable tuition rates. In addition, research students are not allowed to take a full class load while at FSU. The purpose of the J-1 Research Scholar visa category is for research and academic collaboration; US federal regulations state that J-1 Research Scholar visas are intended "for the primary purpose of conducting research, observing or consulting in connection with research projects at research institutions ... A research scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor."
The hosting institution determines whether an FSU research students/scholar may take classes while visiting the institution. However, if the FSU student/scholar plans to transfer any credit to FSU, s/he should speak with his department and the Program Director, Exchanges and Intercultural Programs at the Center for Global Engagement to find out the procedures for transferring credit. FSU has policies and procedures in place for students who want to enroll directly at an international institution and transfer credit to FSU.