AAU Match

Information to supervisors

Each semester, several thousand students at Aalborg University perform their student projects in collaboration with companies. On this website relevant information can be found in relation to i.e. typical expectations with regard to the collaboration, pitfalls, model agreements, as well as tips and points of attention that may be relevant when entering into an agreement with companies regarding collaboration on a student project.

Student projects performed in collaboration between students and a company should be a mutually rewarding experience. The company can be either a private company or a public company, such as municipalities, regions and other universities.Both the company and the students are expected to contribute to the project and to gain learning experience from the performance of the project. The company has a chance to have students with special academic qualifications test relevant cases or analyze problems, while the students gets the opportunity to collaborate with industry on authentic problems within their field of education.

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    THE PROJECT CASE

    Typically, students at Aalborg University will have the chance to perform projects in collaboration with companies at different levels of their education, with the intent to gain experience with advanced problems in an industrial context and to gain practical experience in addition to the theoretical application.

    Perhaps the company has a case or a problem that the company would like the students to work with, or the students might have an idea for a case/problem, they would like to work on together with the company. It is important however, that the case is relevant for the student’s education and academically corresponds to the student’s level of education. The purpose of the collaboration is to generate new knowledge and enable the student to satisfy the learning goals of the project module.

    In the event that the project proposal is proposed by the supervisor on the basis of a research project, in which the supervisor is involved, AAU Grants & Contracts should be contacted for advice to ensure that the student project complies with the applicable conditions of the research project.

    In order to ensure that the students obtain useful academic outcome of the project, it is recommended that the project proposal has a long timeframe as regards exploitation of the new knowledge generated during the project. This to ensure that the knowledge generated within the project does not have a character of extra manpower for ongoing development projects within the company.

    The company is expected to make a company supervisor available to the student project as a mentor for the students.

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    THE UNIVERSITY’S ROLE

    The role of Aalborg University in relation to student projects is to allocate a supervisor to supervise the student during performance of the project and to perform examination of the student, upon completion of the project. A project-oriented course (internship) involves a semester or course coordinator and a project supervisor, who is employed by Aalborg University.

    AAU strives towards a uniform practice with regard to student projects within all areas of studies. The Study Board and the supervisor should reasonably inform the students when to contact companies with project proposals. The Study Board is encouraged to prepare a project catalogue containing project ideas to be presented to the students for the individual semester, in order to ensure that the students obtain relevant and qualified project collaborations with companies, with whom the university has positive experience.  A project-oriented course in collaboration with a company must be approved by the Study Board, before the start of the project.

    The project is concluded with an individual oral exam based on the student’s project report. The student, the AAU supervisor and censor participates in the examination. The study board can decide to allow the company supervisor or other relevant company representatives may join the examination. Examination is performed by the AAU supervisor, while the assessment is performed by the examiner and the censor.

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    TERMS OF COLLABORATION

    The supervisor must be able to continuously guide the students on the student project. This goes for the academic content, but there is also the expectation that the supervisor can guide the students in relation to what general expectations the companies often have, e.g. in relation to the company's trade secrets and in relation to where the students can find further information, advice and template agreements, if the company requests a collaboration agreement.

    The students are not employees of the university and therefore decide for themselves what terms to accept in a collaboration agreement for a student project. The role of AAU Grants & Contracts is to consider the interests of the University and the University cannot offer the students legal advice in connection with a student project agreement, as the students are private persons and the University may become legally responsible for such advice. Generally, however, the supervisor is expected to make the students aware that AAU recommends that students do not sign clauses that may restrict students' ability to complete their exam. That may become the case if the students are not allowed to share the company's trade secrets with the supervisor and censor. Clauses can also limit the opportunity for the students to take jobs in competing companies later. Further, the supervisor is expected remind the students that the students cannot commit or bind their supervisor or censor with their signature. Both the supervisor and the censor (whether internal or external censor) are subject to a duty of confidentiality regarding the company's trade secrets, cf. the Public Administration Act section 27, in terms of their role within the public administration.

    The project report is important in the student’s search for a job after completion of his/her education. In that point of view, the student should, to the widest extent possible, be free to use and distribute the project report, when the project has been completed. There may however be situations where the company’s trade secrets are included in the project report or where the content of project report comes close to the company’s strategies or core activities, and where publication of the project report would therefore compromise the company’s business significantly. In such cases it seems reasonable for the parties to decide to keep secret the project report and to close the examination from the public.

    If the company decides that an agreement is needed for the collaboration on the student project, Aalborg University's website contains templates for use in student projects, which are pre-approved by the university and therefore can be used in connection with student projects. AAU/the supervisor is not a party to the template agreements. The reason is that the supervisor is already subject to the duty of confidentiality, cf. the Administration Act in relation to the company's trade secrets. Using the agreement templates also ensures a quick process for the company and the student. There are two agreement templates described below:

    • Non-disclosure Agreement for Student Project: In many cases, the company contributes to the project with interesting problems, product specifications, data, strategy and information in relation to economy and market. Many wish for such information to be kept secret. To ensure that the student undertakes non-disclosure obligations with regard to the company’s trade secrets disclosed by the company in the course of performance of the student project, we have prepared a Non-disclosure Agreement for Student Project – which can be found here in Danish and English.
    • Non-disclosure and Rights Agreement for Student Project: Besides an obligation of confidentiality, the company may require regulation of exploitation rights to the results of the project. Since the company contributes to the student project with time and knowledge, the company often expect to be able to use the results within their business. The student puts a great deal of work into the project and will, where no other agreement is made, be the owner of the results generated by the student. Most students will however be prepared to allow the company to exploit the results generated in the project. In the case where the parties require an agreement that covers both non-disclosure obligations and ownership and exploitation rights to results generated in the project, we have prepared a Non-disclosure and Rights Agreement for Student Projects – which can be found here in Danish and English.
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    USE OF THE COMPANY’S AGREEMENT TEMPLATE

    Some companies prefer to use their own agreement template in connection with a student project. In such event, it is up to the students to decide if he or she will accept the proposed terms. This however constitute a risk for the student that can be avoided by using the preapproved AAU model agreements where possible. The company and the student should in all cases ensure that the student can share necessary information with the supervisor and the examiner and thus complete the exam.

    Supervisors may be met by demands from the company to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or co-sign the student project agreement with the students. The supervisor is not authorized to sign such agreements agreement single-handed. In special cases, the university will be willing to enter into agreements on student projects if it is considered crucial for the company that the supervisor is included in the agreement. In such a case, the company may contact the Study Board, who will assess whether the university will initiate negotiations on the agreement, based on a number of predetermined criteria:

    • The Study Board estimates that there will be more student collaborations with the relevant company within a number of years
    • The Study Board believes that it is of value to the students that AAU uses resources to negotiate a new company agreement
    • The company is committed to re-use the agreement being negotiated for a number of years after which it can be updated/re-negotiated
    • If the company provides a first draft as a starting point for the negotiation, such a draft agreement should reasonably fit the purpose of implementing a student project

    Such an agreement would require legal review by the university’s Grants and Contract Office and processing time must be expected. Student agreements cannot be expected to be prioritized over other university activities.

    There are agreements with several companies that have already gone through legal review and approval an which have been registered in the university SharePoint portal. These agreements can be accessed by the individual supervisor by personal login. These agreements are pre-approved by AAU Grants & Contracts and can be signed by the supervisor and the Head of Department as soon as the supervisor has ensured that the terms are identical to the template contained in the archive. See the agreement templates here (requires AAU login).

    The supervisor then ensures that the signed agreement is registered in Workzone either personally or by contacting the Study Board or study secretary. See instruction on journalizing student project agreement in Workzone here.

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    ASSOCIATION WITH A RESEARCH PROJECT, GDPR AND OTHER SPECIAL CONDITIONS

    In some cases where special circumstances apply to a student project, it may make sense to use a completely different agreement template. This is the case, for example, if the students are associated with a research project or if the supervisor has contributed significantly to the project idea, in which case the supervisor may find it necessary to be part of an agreement with the company and the students to regulate the supervisor's contribution to the project. It may also be that the project case is very close to the supervisor's core research and therefore important to protect the supervisor's interests and further research in this context. In such events, the supervisor may contact AAU Grants & Contracts, who will assist with an agreement that suits the specific conditions. Unless otherwise agreed, the supervisor's contribution will generally be governed by ordinary intellectual property rules, such as copyright law and information that has the nature of trade secrets will be protected by the Danish Act on Trade Secrets. Upon disclosure of a project idea or contribution, the supervisor should in any event inform the recipient of the confidential nature of the information disclosed and make sure to be able to document such notification in order to be able to claim protection of the Danish Act on Trade Secrets.

    When processing personal data as part of a student project or generally as part of their education, the students themselves are basically responsible for complying with the General Data Protection Regulation. If the student is however to process personal data as part of a research project and the supervisor suspects that AAU may be responsible for the student’s processing of personal data, the supervisor should contact the AAU Grants and Contracts Office for advice.

DOWNLOAD AGREEMENTS FOR STUDENT PROJECTS

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Tel.: +45 9940 8090
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