Partnership with AKU

The Aga Khan University (AKU) is an international university with campuses and programmes on three continents. From the prescriptions of its Charter, to its present reality of its people, programmes and sites, AKU is a role model for health and education in the developing world. 

Since its inception, the Aga Khan University (AKU) has established many partnerships and linkages with various academic institutions, many of which have been a great success. AKU’s nursing school, medical college, Institutes for Educational Development (Karachi and Dar es Salaam), Institute for the Study of Muslims Civilizations (London), Advanced Nursing Studies, and Post Graduate Medical Education (East Africa) are well known in the region for their programmes and research of international quality.  

AKU has held a number of successful partnerships in the areas of faculty exchange, research, joint, lectures, tutorials, seminars, symposia, student visits and exchanges, student dissertation etc. AKU’s partnership strategy is to focus on a few key institutional partnerships with high returns, impact and mutual benefit. Please take some time to read the below questions for further and easy understanding.

What do we mean by Partnership?

A current or proposed relationship between an element of the Aga Khan University (AKU) and an institution outside that has the following features:
  • The relationship is undertaken in the expectation that among other purposes, it will advance the higher education mission of the AKU.
  • It is envisioned to persist for at least one year.
  • It involves contributions from both AKU and the partner institution that reflect their respective strengths.
  • It is expected to achieve results that will benefit both AKU and the partner institution in ways that reflect their respective needs.
  • It is not merely a one-time grant or purchase.

What are the levels of Partnership at AKU

Partnerships can be established at three distinct levels within the institution. These are as follows:
  • Institution: Partnerships between one or more AKDN institutions and partner institutions that are approved by the leadership of their respective institutions that commit institutional resources and are expected to govern a portfolio of joint efforts in more than one area. Institutional partnerships are supported and have a high level of commitment from Senior Administration as they represent cornerstone partnerships to AKU’s development and growth.

  • Entity: Partnerships centered on a particular circumscribed project or program that may commit institutional resources and require approval of the leadership of the institution or one of its constituent entities but does not represent a portfolio of joint projects. Entity level partnerships require the approval of respective Deans and Directors of the various units and should be flagged to the Partnerships Office so that such activity can be reported on and monitored especially as the partnership grows and develops. Funds for supporting such partnerships are at the discretion of the Deans and Directors. 

  • Individual: Collaboration between an employee of an AKDN entity and partner institution that does not commit institutional resources or require approval of institutional leadership. These will be entirely without any commitment on the part of either party

How does AKU assess the value of new or existing partners? 

AKU uses the following guidelines for assessment of existing or potential partnerships: 
  1. Does the proposed partner have long-term credibility? 
  2. Would the partnership improve AKU's education system? 
  3. Would the partnership position us better in higher education in a country of interest? 
  4. Would the partnership build multi-polar ties of strategic value? 
  5. Would the partnership advance a substantive area of priority to the AKDN and to AKU, for example, pluralism, civil society, ethics, language, climate,/ environment, among others? 
  6. Would the partnership advance AKU's research agenda? 
  7. Would the partnership promote AKU as a good neighbor? 
  8. Would the partnership help attract or develop faculty? 
  9. Would the partnership provide a model that others can follow, yielding leverage? 
  10. Would the partnership lead to access to new human or material resources? 
  11. Is the partnership an efficient application of AKU's resources?

What is the approval process? 
  • Institutional partnerships can be formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding or Agreement, which essentially binds the institutions to the commitments in this procedure. It enables both parties to fully understand their rights and responsibilities. An institutional Memorandum of Agreement and its associated annexes will require the approval of the AKU Board of Trustees (as appropriate) after consideration by the respective deans/directors and partnership committee. Standard templates for these documents have been approved, which are available upon request. 

  • Entity partnerships can be formalized through a Letter of Intent, which highlights an understanding of the project and can be signed by the entity head. A copy should also be sent to the UPO for their information and reference

​What role will UPO play after the agreement is signed? 

The UPO will help in: 

Defining and organizing the partnership planning:
  • Establishing the project organization: who is accountable for the partnership, the project team that will help implement the partnership, responsibilities and expertise required. 
  • Developing the scope of the project: what are the objectives and outcomes expected during the partnership, definition of key deliverables, definition of the stakeholders, 
  • Developing project guidelines: composition of the core team, how often will they meet, communicate, hold regular reviews, among others. 
  • Developing the core project document, which will include: 
    • Introduction; 
    • Project objective statement;
    • Final deliverable and major deliverables – definitions of deliverables;
    • Major deliverable and target dates; 
    • Project team roster;
    • Major risks and contingencies;
    • Budget codes for funding and proposed budget;
    • Operational processes (project file, tracking sheet, meeting schedule and reporting guidelines).
Implementing the partnership:
  • Identifying  the task list for each area of the partnership; 
  • Scheduling and developing a Gantt chart; 
  • Identifying and allocating resources; 
  • Integrating the partnership;
  • Understanding risks and opportunities. 
Monitoring and Evaluation of the partnership: 
  • Reporting mechanisms; 
  • Documenting best practices and key learning;
  • Preparing a partnership review – shortfalls and how to enhance progress. 

How to extend your current partnership? 
  • During the academic year prior to the expiry of the partnership, the Provost, deans and directors will meet as appropriate to consider extension of the partnership with the partner institution. 
  • The Partnership Panel, chaired by the Provost, and including the department dean, a senior member of academic faculty with current experience, a member of the UPO and a department head, will review the partnership. As required, other project members and or partnership coordinators will also be invited to participate in discussions as relevant. 
  • The objective of the Panel is to review the partnership goals and objectives, assess progress accomplished, impact, and contributions made, and identify any issues of concern (governance, operational, institutional, among others). 
  • Once confirmed, extension of the partnership and signing of MoU with the partner institution can proceed