International Affairs Office

Defining the IAO in the Context of PSU

IAO Mandate

The International Affairs Office’s (IAO) mandate is to facilitate and administrate PSU engagements with international partnering institutions and agencies. Its authorization is found in the PSU’s vision and mission statements. The first announces the University’s aim to be the premier private institute of higher education in the Middle East, one that offers a quality education equal to that found in strong schools elsewhere in the world. In the second, one of the means to achieve this end is via partnering with foreign schools. The work of the IAO in the main is implementation of these directives by strategically cultivating partnerships with world-class universities and tactically engaging with analogous, nimble schools about the globe.



The IAO is the institutional interface between PSU senior administration and the leadership of the colleges, departments, centers and research labs. IAO duties also include organizing and leading PSU summer trips, administering the PSU study abroad programs, oversight of university benchmarking, management of the Fullbridge Program, Lawyering Practical Skills Program, and performing various ad hoc assignments for senior administration.

Top-Down Work

The IAO is directly under the President’s Office. The Director of the IAO meets regularly with the President to learn about, probe, digest and critically discuss strategic planning and initiatives relating to international schools, programs, scholars and agencies. This work usually includes the following elements:

  • Research on targets, write-ups of summary notes and briefs
  • Contacts and discussions with relevant PSU administrators and faculty
  • Assessments and/or recommendations written out and discussed in meetings

If a decision is made to contact the school and/or person, the IAO Director starts a correspondence with the target(s) pursuant to reaching an understanding with the other school in regards to the benefits to be gained by both PSU and the prospective partner. Once common grounds and interests are found, work is done to formalize ties via written agreements.

Bottom-Up Work

Faculty members cannot on their own make ties with foreign schools, scholars and/or agencies in the name of Prince Sultan University. Rather they must first make formal proposals for establishing institutional or personal ties via the following process:

  • Draft and edit a proposal that lists its object(s), explains how the partnership will benefit PSU, the anticipated costs of the ties, target(s) contact information if any, etc.
  • Proposal is first reviewed, remarked on and approved by the College Dean, Department Chair, Center Director, and/or Research Lab Head and then forwarded to the International Affairs Office.

If a College or Department support is strong and a good case can be made for the proposal, the IAO director forwards the proposal to senior administration for review, comment and decision. If approved by the President's Office, the targeted school and/or person will be contacted as described above. If no approval, no action will be taken on proposals.


Partnership ties with foreign schools and scholars are formalized through written and signed documents. To date, the two most common type of documents are Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and Memorandums of Agreements (MOAs).

MOUs formalize institutional (i.e. school to school; school to organizations, etc) and feature general language designed to prompt both parties to look for opportunities to work together for mutual benefits. The documents are usually short and feature the fol-lowing elements

  • Announcement of comity of interests between PSU and University X to explore for opportunities for partnering activities such as:
    • student and faculty exchanges
    • joint research programs
    • design and establishment of programs
    • …other activities of mutual interest
  • Operationalizing (roles, costs, timelines, etc.) such activities to be worked out be-tween the two parties in contractual form at a later time.
  • General conditional paragraphs.
    • student and faculty exchanges
    • end ties options: time frame, 5-years and then ties are up for optional renewal; six-month notice of cancelation of ties, etc
    • six-moth notice of cancelation of ties, etc
    • legal obligations and jurisdictions, etc

MOUs in effect invite both parties to find areas and activities of common interest to team together in.

Agreements are formalized relationships below the institutional level. One might be between an individual scholar and a PSU department, another between an agency and a PSU program and so on. These often take form in a Memorandum of Agreement-MOA or in other formal documents and often lists dates, conditions, responsibilities and costs. These need to be vetted by senior administration and PSU legal council before MOAs or other formal documents can be acted upon and operationalized.