International research activities are an integral part of the University of Houston. Our researchers have international collaborators, extend invitations to international visitors, and admit international graduate students into their research labs and groups. In 2017, over 40% of publications of University of Houston researchers listed in Web of Science were conducted with international collaborators. The top three countries our faculty members collaborate with today are China, Germany, and South Korea.
The University of Houston welcomes international students and scholars. About 8% of our student body is international. Among graduate students, the percentage of international students is much higher. Almost half of our doctoral students and almost a quarter of our Master’s students are international students. Many of our faculty and staff come from foreign countries and have made their home in Houston.
On this website, we are making available relevant resources to help navigate the increasingly complex environment for international research. This website will be expanded and updated with information. Researchers are encouraged to check the website on a regular basis. All researchers are expected to be familiar with, and comply with the information on this website.
Collaborating with Foreign Entities
- Providing professional services or financial assistance to certain countries, persons, or entities may fall under export control.
- Fundamental research and results of research that will be in the public domain are generally excluded from export controls. “Fundamental research” is defined as “research in science, engineering, or mathematics, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the research community, and for which the researchers have not accepted restrictions for proprietary or national security reasons.”1
- Prior to executing an agreement with or including a foreign collaborator, to determine whether or not there is any export control related information or material being exchanged as part of the agreement, the Division of Research will screen all of the individuals and entities related to the transaction for a possible match in Visual Compliance. The Visual Compliance screening searches the names of individuals and company against government restricted party lists and provides a report.
- Individual researchers may not make any arrangements or commitments with a prospective partner or funding source without going through the appropriate university offices and administrative procedures. Your pre-award contact can always help you if you have questions.
Federal Agency Requirements on Grants
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires all applications and progress reports to include all sources of research support, financial interests and relevant affiliations. This includes support coming from foreign governments or other foreign entities.
- NIH requires in grant applications to indicate whether or not the project includes a “foreign component,” and if so, to provide a justification. A foreign component is defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 1.2, as “[t]he performance of any significant element or segment of the project outside the United States either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by or affiliated with a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended. Examples include collaboration with investigators at a foreign site; use of facilities or instrumentation at a foreign site; or financial support or resources from a foreign entity. Foreign travel for consultation is not considered a foreign component.”
- In December 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a memorandum informing DOE grant, fellowship, and center recipients that they are prohibited from using U.S. tax dollars to conduct international research collaborations or support sensitive country foreign nationals in areas that were not specified in the memo but could include, according to Science, artificial intelligence, supercomputing, quantum information, nanoscience, or advanced manufacturing.
- In January 2019, the DOE issued a memorandum that prohibits DOE-funded scientists from currently or in the future participating in foreign talent recruitment programs of countries determined sensitive by DOE, such as China’s Thousand Talents programs. A June 2019 memorandum provides further details.
- In March 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) issued a memorandum stating that proposers for all non-procurement transactions must submit detailed information on other current and pending support for all “key personnel.”
- The National Science Foundation issued a Dear Colleague Letter: Research Protection on July 11 to seek input on recent and upcoming changes in their policies: (i) NSF rotators are required to be U.S. citizens or have applied for U.S. citizens if they work onsite at NSF (issued in April 2018); (ii) requirement to use an electronic submission of biographical sketches, including disclosure of all (foreign and domestic) appointments (proposed to become effective in January 2020); (iii) NSF personnel and IPAs cannot participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs; and (iv) clarification of reporting requirements for current and pending support and professional appointments (open for public comment through July 29, 2019)
Foreign Nationals Visiting UH
- Foreign nationals are not allowed access to controlled technologies. Sharing information about controlled technologies or sharing controlled technologies with foreign nationals falls under U.S. export control regulations. Export control not only includes shipping or carrying items to foreign countries and but also sharing items or information with foreign nationals in the U.S. Note that U.S. permanent residents are not considered foreign nationals.
- If you host visitors in a lab, make sure you follow the Policy Governing Visiting Researchers in UH Laboratories, complete the Release and Indemnification Agreement Form, and provide appropriate lab safety training to ensure their and others’ safety. Be aware that different countries may have different safety standards, and visitors may not be familiar with the standards at UH.
- If visitors plan to participate in research with human or animal subjects, ensure they are added to applicable regulatory protocols (IRB, IACUC, etc.) and have taken the associated ethical training. Be aware that different countries may have different ethical standards for research.
- Hosting visitors in your research group can pose intellectual property issues. Discuss project ownership and determine the need to execute a confidentiality agreement prior to collaborating. Consider a data use agreement if you plan on exchanging data. Be cautious of activities like adding unrelated visitors with little advance notice.
- Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are required for the exchange of research materials into or out of the university.
- Certain commodities taken outside of the U.S. may be subject to U.S. export controls. In particular, taking laptops, encryption products, data, technology, blueprints or other technical drawings to international conferences or visits to foreign institutions may fall under export controls. Consider taking a “clean” laptop on foreign travel.
- Any defense-related articles, services, and related technical data fall under the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and require a license to be taken out of the U.S. Providing information about defense articles to foreign nationals is an export control violation. Exercise caution when presenting materials at international conferences or when visiting foreign institutions as you may be personally liable for any such violations.
- Be aware that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency is authorized to search and retain electronic devices, and potentially copy information from the devices. When traveling abroad, make sure you leave a copy of any data on your electronic devices in the U.S. in case the device is lost during inspection.
1Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR): Title 15. Commerce and Foreign Trade. Subtitle B. Regulations to Commerce and Foreign Trade. Chapter VII. Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce. Subchapter C. Export Administration Regulations. Part 734. Scope of the Export Administration Regulations. Section 734.8. “Technology” or “software” that arises during, or results from, fundamental research. (https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/15/734.8; accessed on April 14, 2019)