In education, we all look for partner universities or institutions. A partner builds capacity. They help fill a gap or need. They help expand study abroad and in-bound programs. They help develop expertise and research in niche areas. They also help build campus diversity and bridge cultural and racial understanding.
It may seem that finding a partnership is simple to do. Yet who do you go to with over 20,000 universities, colleges, and institutions in the world? It can be an expensive proposition traveling overseas, scheduling meetings, attending conferences, and trying to make those important connections. Certainly, everyone wants to partner with a top-ranked university. Yet is that what is best for your specific needs? Perhaps you are seeking a partner with an integrated science and arts program or a high school bridge program. Not everyone can accommodate that. How and where do you even start to look?
We encourage you to first start with your connections whether that is a university colleague or an agent. Seeking a consultant may also be a good resource who has the academic expertise, business connections, and understanding of the region and educational system. But before you contact anyone, be sure you do your homework and understand what you are looking for. Here are some questions that you may want to consider before diving headlong into that partnership search.
What are my goals?
What is my value proposition and what value am I seeking from the potential partner?
When do I want the partnership to start? In six months or two years?
Does the academic calendar matter or the time of year?
Will there be money or tuition fees exchanged?
Will this effort conflict with someone else in my institution?
What country do I want to seek a partnership? What area within that country?
Are their government restrictions I should know about?
What are the immigration regulations?
What risks must I consider?
There are many things to think about when finding a partner. We recommend that you start small even with a short program or staff exchange. See if you work well together and build upon the relationship to develop a long-term mutually beneficial partnership.
So when considering a partnership, one-size does not fit all.