With an overall programme cycle of 17 years, the IUC programme provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the institutional development of a university in the South. While such a partnership is demand initiated, the realities of contemporary academic cooperation assume that both the Northern and Southern stakeholders arrive at a jointly owned framework for cooperation that meet the wider programme objectives and align with the main features of the IUC programme.

VLIR-UOS engages in IUC partnerships covering 17 years. This period is characterised by different phases which varying roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders involved:

1) The phase-in of an IUC partnership is marked by the following successive steps:
a open call for proposals followed by a pre-selection of IUC partner institutions
the commission of an external evaluation resulting in a programme mission report on the basis of which the final partnership selection is made
signing of a pre partner programme agreement provided resources to support the preparatory process that covers 15 to 24 months and consists of the following steps:
training and orientation of all stakeholders including the programme manager who is recruited by the concerned partner university
formulation of an identification phase partner programme
match making mission to Flanders
appointment of Flemish project leaders
formulation mission to the partner concerned
review and expected approval of a phase I partner programme

2) 2 successive 5-year Partner Programmes
An IUC Partnerships is framed by 2 successive 5-year Partner Programmes (Phase I and Phase II Partner Programme). A Phase II Partner Programme is granted subject to a positive midterm evaluation in year 3-4 of phase I. 
A Phase II Partner Programme may necessitate an additional more modest match making and formulation process.

3) Phase out
Following a 10-year period of earmarked funding, IUC partnerships enter into a 5-year period of ex-post support. In this regard a distinction is made between:
the partner programme phase out support
ex-post support
In order to facilitate the termination of the partner programme phase, limited support is provided such that scholars can graduate, and the financial reporting cycle can be closed. In addition, a closing event during which the results of the final evaluation are discussed, as well as equipment handover is organised, marks the end of this phase.

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