Branching Out - Higher Education Institutions and Academic Collaboration Agreements (ACA’s)
Layla AlalawiAssociate,Corporate Structuring
With international higher education institutions placing renewed focus on increasing student enrolment, one of the important strategies being adopted is the entering into of collaboration and partnership agreements with established higher education institutions worldwide. Such arrangements are becoming increasingly common throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council countries including the Kingdom of Bahrain (“Bahrain”) over the past decade, resulting in a notable increase of innovation, efficiency and talent attraction in the education sector. Some of the named examples for Bahrain include the following:
British University of Bahrain and University of Salford, Manchester.
Bahrain Institute of Public Administration and Aix Marseille University (AMU) / Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA).
Applied Science University and London South Bank University.
Euro University of Bahrain and University of London.
Royal University for Women and West Virginia University.
Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance and DePaul University / University of London.
Generally, international higher education institutions looking to enter into a new market, such as Bahrain, may via a collaboration with an existing established institution in the jurisdiction, expand their global presence and take advantage of the opportunity of reaching a broader geographic student base that may otherwise not be available to them. Such collaboration effectively avoids the otherwise burdensome requirement of establishing a new stand-alone duly licensed entity, which typically takes time, is costly and may subject the entity to comprehensive licensing requirements from the Ministry of Education. Meanwhile, from a local higher institution perspective, collaborations provide access to new academic subjects and curricula, potential access to state of the art research and innovation facilities, and reputational benefits of being associated with renowned institutions and elevation of brand image, all of which lead to an increase of student enrolment and revenue generated.
Collaborations between higher education institutions allow the parties to diversify their student base and gain a competitive edge in the market. Additionally, the sharing of expertise and knowledge between the parties cultivates a competitive advantage in the market by tapping into the strengths and optimising the resources of each collaborator.
The combining of resources reduces costs and enhances efficiency of the institutions thereby increasing their growth prospects.
Additionally, the benefits to the local student populations are clear, including diversification of the range of available academic disciplines, access to a boarder base of educational assets, and facilitating an increasingly global nuance to courses undertaken and skills developed.
As such, it can confidently be said that such collaborations have the potential to offer an ultimate ‘win-win’ scenario for all parties.
Academic collaboration agreements govern the relationships of an academic nature such as joint degree programmes, joint institutes or centres and such similar relationships. These agreements play an important role for higher education institutions seeking to join forces by legally defining the details of the collaboration, including outlining the expectations, obligations, duties and liabilities of each party and defining the compensation / profit sharing mechanisms.
It can confidently be said that such collaborations have the potential to offer an ultimate ‘win-win’ scenario for all parties
General provisions to address within an academic collaboration agreement include amongst others:
Definition of the nature of the collaboration in order to foster transparency and clarity between the parties and avoid renegotiation.
Clarification of division of profits and payment obligations, including damages for non-payment and limited liability clauses.
Definition of the roles and responsibilities of each party to ensure smooth running of the collaboration.
Clarification of the ownership and transfer of intellectual property (IP) created or utilised during the collaboration (i.e., licensing provisions).
Provisions relating to liability assigning responsibility for damages.
Confidentiality and non-disclosure provisions easing open communication between the parties and building trust.
Dispute resolution provisions including alternative dispute resolution methods if required.
Termination provisions defining the circumstances that lead to termination (i.e., mutual agreement, breach of the agreement, insolvency, or force majeure events).
Akin to other partnership agreements, an academic collaboration agreement is a vital tool in cultivating a fruitful and equitable collaboration between the parties. It mitigates the potential risks in the arrangement and outlines the mechanism for sharing the risks and how to address certain obstacles should they arise, minimising uncertainties and fostering a trusting and secure partnership ahead.
Whether you are thinking of incorporating an educational institution or partnering with one, Al Tamimi & Company can assist you with all your legal requirements for the same throughout the MENA region.
For further information,please contact Layla Alalawi.
Published in September 2023
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