Hiring International Faculty for Universities

Hiring international faculty

Many universities often struggle to maintain compliance with their globally dispersed faculty members. With the increasing prevalence of remote work, universities are recruiting skilled professors overseas. In some cases, these individuals face delays in relocating to the United States or have no plans to move at all. This presents a unique hurdle for many universities, but Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) offer a streamlined solution.

A global PEO serves as an employer for international workers, utilizing its own legal entities worldwide to ensure compliance. This alleviates the need for universities to establish their own entities. The PEO assumes the role of the employer of record for tax-related matters and manages administrative tasks such as onboarding, human resources, payroll, and benefits. Despite this, universities retain complete control over the day-to-day activities of their international faculty and staff.

Universities should be prepared for the possibility of remote teaching positions, as it becomes a more common solution for education. A global PEO can be a quick, short-term solution, or even suit some long-term needs.

Why universities should partner with a global PEO

Hiring international faculty can be a risky endeavor if you fail to meet compliance standards in a foreign country. Whether you are trying to fill a full- or part-time faculty position, adjunct roles, or graduate appointments with stipends, you will need to follow all necessary employment and payroll regulations. This can quickly become burdensome if you have multiple faculty members outside the United States. Working with a global PEO will ensure you are compliant and minimize permanent establishment risks.

Any time a university decides to recruit and hire international faculty, inherent risks come into play. Violations of international law could lead to expensive penalties and fines, civil lawsuits, or even funding penalties to your university. By using a global PEO, you offload the risk, while still retaining control over educational and university growth strategies. This becomes especially advantageous given the frequent changes in local laws and regulations across different countries.

With the compliance burden eliminated, universities can concentrate on identifying the right candidates for its educational needs.

Related: Remote global hiring for higher education

Understanding compensation and benefits

In order to acquire the best faculty and staff for your university, you’ll need to understand how to offer attractive compensation and benefits packages. Understanding these requirements will also help establish budget expectations as they begin hiring international faculty for universities.

Social costs

Social costs typically refer to the mandatory expenses associated with employment specific to individual countries or the payroll tax obligations of the university. These costs can sometimes be overlooked when hiring overseas. But like the United States, other countries have similar programs to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Keep in mind that depending on the country, these social costs can vary significantly. Most notably, certain European countries enforce employee protections and benefits that encompass pensions, healthcare, paid vacation, and more.


Determining the right salary for your international faculty can be a challenge without local expertise. Working with a global PEO can give you insights into compensation expectations and cultural norms. Additionally, they can craft various employment contracts for the differing employee functions.

For example, a sales member might have a commission structure in their contract. Or a marketing or R&D employee could have bonus structures in place. This is why a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Universities will need to ensure their PEO provider has the expertise to understand and implement these contracts, in addition to managing general compensation and benefits.

Related: 5 steps to offering a competitive salary internationally


The right employment benefits could be the difference maker when acquiring top talent for your university. In some countries, benefits actually function more like required social costs rather than optional advantages.

A global provider like Global PEO Services can also procure benefits and offer them to the entire employee base across the world. A global structure provides more flexibility and buying power. So it’s important to remember that volume matters in this situation. Some of these more common benefits might include:

· Medical insurance

· Dental insurance

· Vision insurance

· Life insurance

· Mental health coverage

· Retirement planning

· Tenure track

· Permanent residence

· J-1 visas

· Paid vacation time

· Paid sick leave

· Paid training and development

· Travel and spending expenses

It’s also important to note that some of these benefits, although not mandated by law, are seen as culturally required. For example, in India, some positions expect transportation and continuing education stipends as part of their overall compensation package. Knowing these cultural norms will help your university be successful when hiring international faculty.

How to use a PEO for hiring international faculty

Most of the time the HR department will work with the PEO. Together they determine the exact costs the individual departments will need to pay to hire a full-time faculty member. The cost of the PEO depends on the monthly salary of the employees and the country where the faculty member is located.

As mentioned above, keep in mind that social costs could be 10%-45% on top of the monthly salary. Although every country is different, usually Latin and South American countries have higher social costs, whereas the Middle East and Asia have lower costs. Because every university is unique, it’s difficult to say how much an individual department will end up paying. Sometimes those departments are solely responsible for the employee costs, while other times the university will supplement the hiring fees.

The PEO provider will handle all the administrative burden associated with hiring international faculty, including:

· Accurate and timely payroll

· Taxes and legal registrations

· Employment contracts

· Hiring and onboarding

· Benefit management

· Terminations

· Regulatory compliance

About Global PEO Services

By delivering effective international services to universities, Global PEOs ensure the continual global influence of higher education institutions in the education markets. One primary advantage of a PEO lies in its flexibility and scalability, tailoring services to the specific needs of your university.

1. 100% Compliance with Domestic and International Legislation: Global PEOs consist of seasoned legislative specialists that understand global regulatory compliance. They support areas like labor laws, taxation, and other requirements.

2. In-Country HR Support: PEO specialists address all the requirements of overseas employees on an individual basis.

3. Rapid Employee Onboarding: Establishing your own entity to hire an employee would take months. Using a PEO means you can streamline the hiring process.

4. Pre-Employment Background Screening: PEOs make sure all employees are qualified to work for your university. This process saves your own HR teams time and effort.

5. Simplified Global Payroll: Consolidated payroll for global employees in any currency will ease the burden on busy finance departments.

Maintaining a global presence and service offering while ensuring financial stability has always been a goal for universities. A global PEO can make that happen.

Outsourcing to a Global PEO/EOR Provider

Hiring international faculty doesn’t need to be complicated or stressful. Global PEO Services (GPS), a Safeguard Global company, was designed to help you navigate these risks, while still giving you full control. With laws and regulations frequently changing for different countries, it can be challenging to keep track of compliance, legal and tax requirements.

We manage all the legal requirements and payroll, while the business manages the international team on a day-to-day basis. For companies hoping to switch international contractors to PEO, GPS can help you stay compliant in 170+ countries.