University Policy on International Activities


September 22, 1992

Revision Date

December 19, 2006


GP 23

Revision No.


1.0 General

International activities at Simon Fraser University include: study-abroad programs for domestic students; an international student presence on campus; student and faculty exchanges with foreign institutions; credit and non-credit instructional program delivery; and customized education programs for international clients, delivered either in Canada or abroad. The University also engages in projects that contribute to an improved quality of life in host countries, complement the University's academic mission and support the University's role as a responsible and responsive international centre of higher learning.

These activities impose on the University and its members the responsibility to ensure that international activities are consistent with institutional values and practices, especially when the policies and practices of a host government overseas may be subject to criticism.

2.0 Policy Purpose

Where international activities require approval by the institution, policy guidance is required to: safeguard the University's reputation; ensure the proper disposition of University resources; assist in making informed judgements about the desirability of specific international agreements; and ensure that these activities support the University's mission.

This Policy provides conditions, assessment principles and procedures to guide decisions affecting University participation in cases where the institution's name or resources are associated with an international activity.

3.0 Policy Applicability

3.1 This Policy applies to international activities that are undertaken in the name of the University and delivered either in Canada or abroad. All international activities undertaken by the University on the basis of a contract, contribution agreement, letter of understanding or similar document require the approval of the President, regardless of the delegated signing authority. Where Senate or the Board of Governors approval is required, such approval must also be obtained.

3.2 Appendix A provides an illustrative list of international activities to which the Policy applies.

3.3 Research and international activities undertaken by individual faculty, staff or students on their own behalf are not covered by this Policy.

4.0 Assessment Guidelines Reflecting the University's Values and Principles

The following conditions shall be taken into account when assessing the desirability of entering into an international agreement:

SFU's Mission, Academic Standards and Practices

4.1 The activity complements the University's academic mission and meets its academic standards;

4.2 The activity conforms to all current University policies with particular attention to those policies governing academic freedom, research, ethics and service contracts;

4.3 The activity, while respecting cultural differences, adheres to the principles of academic freedom;

4.4 The activity supports the equitable participation of women and other equity designated groups;

4.5 The activity is designed to protect the safety of University personnel on overseas assignment, and to provide assistance and advice to non-SFU personnel associated with the activity, when their safety may be at risk;

4.6 The activity guarantees University control over student access to its study programs; and

4.7 The activity acknowledges University authority to select and administer its own personnel.

Human Rights and Legal Requirements

4.8 The activity conforms to the legal rights and obligations enshrined in international laws, covenants and declarations to which Canada is a signatory;

4.9 The activity mitigates rather than abets the violation of human rights.

Interface With the Community

4.10 The activity has either a neutral or a beneficial effect on the environment;

4.11 The activity, in both its planning and its implementation, embodies practices that advance partnership with the people most affected by the undertaking;

4.12 The desirability of University involvement in an international activity should increase in proportion to the benefits bestowed locally on individuals and communities as a consequnce of the activity.

5.0 Human Rights Considerations

From time to time, international activities will be proposed in countries where there may be ethical concerns about the possible denial of human rights. It is the University's responsibility to determine to the best of its ability that the activities it engages in contribute to the dignity and well being of its foreign partners and do not act as instruments of abuse.

When assessing the human rights implications of any international activity, the following principles shall apply:

5.1 An international activity taking place within a country governed by an abusive political regime should be assessed on its own merits;

5.2 The closer the connection between an international activity and a foreign agency that is known to abuse human rights, or the closer the connection to the offending practices themselves, the less acceptable the University's participation;

5.3 Individuals who live under an abusive regime should not be additionally penalized by being denied access to assistance through international cooperation;

5.4 Without abrogating the University's academic values, the culture of a host country should be taken into account and treated with sensitivity when assessing the human rights implications of an international activity;

5.5 International activities should assist local recipients of assistance to make informed judgements about human rights.

6.0 The Senate Committee on International Activities (SCIA)

6.1 Designation

The Senate Committee on International Activities (SCIA) is a Standing Committee (Reporting Category "B".)

6.2 Membership
Members Conditions Term
President (or designate) Chair, Ex-officio  
Vice President, Academic (or designate) Ex-officio  
Senator (Faculty Member) Elected by and from Senate 2 years
Senator (Faculty Member) Elected by and from Senate 2 years
Senator (Faculty Member) Elected by and from Senate 2 years
Senator (At-large) Elected by and from Senate 2 years
Senator (Undergraduate Student) Elected by and from Senate 2 years
Graduate student (At-large) Elected by Senate 2 years
Director, SFU International Ex-officio  
Secretary (Non-voting) Staff Member, Office of International Cooperation  
The Committee shall meet at least once each semester and at the call of the Chair.
Quorum shall be a simple majority of the voting members.
The Committee may strike sub-committees as required, such as the International Student Exchange Committee.

6.3 Terms of Reference

    6.3.1 To ensure that proposals for international activities meet the conditions and criteria established by the University Policy on International Activities, and the University Policy on Service Contracts.

    6.3.2 To ensure broad consultation prior to the final approval of any proposal covered by this policy for which human rights considerations are likely to be a concern.

    6.3.3 To advise the President with respect to the desirability of entering into international activities that are proposed to be undertaken by the University on the basis of a contract, contribution agreement, letter of understanding, or similar document.

    6.3.4 To maintain an overview and familiarity with international agreements that are entered into by academic or administrative units.

    6.3.5 To report annually to Senate.

6.4 Procedures

    6.4.1 The Committee shall be provided with copies of international activity proposals and whatever other information is needed to administer this Policy, based on procedures to be determined by the Committee.

    6.4.2 Every proposal shall indicate that it has the approval of the appropriate Chair or Director, and Faculty Dean and shall contain a statement of goals and objectives, a clear disclosure of the proposed activities and a budget.

    6.4.3 Proposals shall be submitted to the Secretary of SCIA for distribution to the Committee.

    6.4.4 The Committee shall review each proposal to ensure compliance with the University Policy on International Activities and shall recommend acceptance, modification or rejection to the President. Where approval of the Senate or the Board of Governors is required, the President shall inform the appropriate body(ies) of the Committee's recommendation.

    6.4.5 Where there is concern on the part of SCIA that any international activity which uses the University's name or resources may be in non-compliance with this Policy, the Committee shall be entitled to receive further information and shall report to the President regarding any violations that may be discovered.

    6.4.6 Copies of international activity contracts or other agreements shall be provided to the Office of International Cooperation where they shall be kept on file and be open for inspection by members of the University community.


Questions of Policy interpretation or application shall be referred to the President whose decision shall be final.

Appendix A

Illustrative List of International Activities to Which the Policy Applies

The Policy applies to all international activities undertaken in the University's name except where explicitly exempted. Examples of international activities to which the Policy applies, include:

  • International cooperation agreements between institutions.
  • International university agreements governing inbound and outbound graduate and undergraduate student exchanges, study abroad opportunities (including field schools) and non-credit international study tours.
  • New international credit programs such as dual, double and joint degrees.
  • Education and training credit and non-credit programs for international clients, including English language training provided outside of ongoing approved programs.
  • Arrangements for the delivery, sale or licensing outside Canada of the University's credit and non-credit courses, and degree completion programs.
  • International service contracts.
  • International development assistance.
  • International institutional research projects.
  • International commercial, joint-venture partnerships that use the University's resources or that trade on the University's name and reputation.

International research projects undertaken in the name of the institution shall adhere to the spirit of this Policy and shall be submitted for review, or reported for information to the Senate Committee on International Activities at the discretion of the Vice-President, Research.

Approved by Senate: November 5, 2001

Approved by the Board of Governors: November 22, 2001