University of Michigan faculty and staff members often host international delegations or individual colleagues for short-term campus visits to develop educational partnerships, explore research collaborations or simply provide an introduction to the U-M. The following resources and shared templates can aid units in planning for international visitors.
As you consider hosting international visitor, it is helpful to identify the reasons for doing so. Some common objectives for these visits may include:
- Enhancing the educational or research capacity of your individual department, academic unit, or the broader University.
- Creating new learning opportunities for U-M students in collaboration with an international partner.
- Exploring new opportunities for bringing international students to your academic program.
- Exchanging knowledge and ideas around topics of mutual interest. Visit formats may range from courtesy calls or general introductions to detailed partnership planning or celebrations of particular shared accomplishments. The following questions can help you plan the actual visit:
- What is your history with the visitors? Do you (or your unit) have an existing relationship with the organization or does the visit represent a new area for collaboration?
- Is there sufficient faculty/staff interest among your colleagues to explore collaboration with the visiting organization or institution? If so, what are those particular areas of interest? How do they align with the goals of the visitors?
- Who requested the visit? Did you extend an invitation or did the visitors contact the U-M? What are the benefits of this visit for your department, academic unit or the broader U-M? What costs and time commitments will be involved with the visit?
- Who are the members of the visiting delegation? Are you able to connect visitors to U-M counterparts with similar titles or status? Scheduling and availability may be factors for consideration.
The following tips can guide departments and units in hosting international visitors.
- Communicate with the visitors to acknowledge the request and adjust or confirm the timing of the visit. Consider the U-M academic/athletic calendar, weekends, holidays, graduation ceremonies, and availability of people to meet with the visitor when scheduling the visit. Hosting a delegation during a large athletic event or graduation weekend might impact your ability to secure hotels, etc.
- Identify a coordinator for the visit to build the itinerary, schedule meetings and address logistical questions. The coordinator is typically a faculty member or administrator within the host unit.
- Prepare formal invitation letters for the visitors, if requested. Such letters are often needed to help the visitors obtain U.S. visas. Be sure to include the full name of each visitor, the dates they will be on campus and the purpose(s) of the visit.
- List visit-related expenses (e.g. hotels, hosting, etc.) and clarify who is paying for each expense.
- Consider the “levels” of the visitors. The protocol involved will vary greatly between the visit of a professor/researcher and the visit of a high-ranking university or government official. Please contact the Provost’s Office to inquire about courtesy visits for high-ranking officials.
- Determine what events and activities are possible (e.g., lectures, presentations, receptions, meals, business meetings, facilities tours, etc.).
- Build an itinerary that includes full titles, contact information and bios for each visitor. This background information helps U-M colleagues better understand the context of the visit. Where possible, incorporate the cultural customs of the visitors’ home country and use formal salutation where appropriate.
- Determine any special needs of the visitors:
- Disabilities – important for securing a hotel or meeting locations
- Dietary restrictions (for health or cultural reasons) – important to consider when catering in lunch or dinner
- Transportation – determine whether the visitors will need transportation from the airport/train station to hotel or around campus
- Language – address needs for translation services
U-M ranked 6th in the nation in the number of students studying abroad for the year 2015-2016.Institute of International Education
U-M hosted students from 139 countries last year.