International Academic Study Abroad Procedures
For the past several years West Liberty University via the Internationalization Committee, has been engaged in conversations regarding campus internationalization, and through those conversations goals have been identified for study abroad, supporting infrastructure, programming, and the recruitment of international students and faculty. Studying abroad is an important component of our internationalization plan and an area where we have seen an increase in interest and participation over the past several years. With the absence of a centralized study abroad office, the process of finding a study abroad program is difficult for the students, and quite cumbersome for faculty who would like to develop a study abroad program. The Internationalization Committee, working under the guidance of the Provost and the newly created Director of International Programs at the Higher Education Policy Commission, is working to develop a set of policies and procedures to help us accomplish our goals of internationalizing the campus.
Issues that need to be addressed when planning to lead a study tour are:
• Faculty compensation for faculty-led trips
• Procedures for collection of deposits and funds
• Input from the VP of Finance, legal counsel, Registrar
Definition of a Faculty-led Program
A faculty-led program is a short term (one month or less), faculty led, university sponsored academic program involving group travel outside of the United States. Leading a student program abroad can be extremely rewarding for any faculty member. This experience can enhance any course and bring their academics to life as well as providing students with an intercultural experience while raising global awareness and appreciation. Planning this type of program can be time-consuming and slightly overwhelming, which is where these procedures would be beneficial.
In order to create a strong program it is best to give yourself at least 12 months to plan. It is important to follows these procedures in order to get the proper approvals and to aid in the development of your program.
Important things to consider:
• Course & Location – consider what kind of course to offer and where you would like to travel. Choose a location based on your own interest, personal research, or area of expertise.
• Advertisement & Recruitment – Identify the group of students you wish to target
• Budget – keep it cost-friendly
• Logistics – consider all components of the program
• Forms – be aware of all required approvals
Faculty-led Programs Offerings
Recommendations for a faculty-led program will come from faculty in various academic departments. Interested faculty generally have traveled or studied abroad themselves, and have an interest in globalization. Faculty may use a study abroad provider or have a direct affiliation with a foreign University or wish to create a new affiliation. Programs can be language based for immersion purposes, they can be program specific, or they can be open to the general student population for a strictly intercultural experience.
Interested faculty should submit an FACULTY STUDY TOUR PROPOSAL for approval by their appropriate chair, dean or program director, the VP of Finance, and the Provost prior to recruitment and enrollment of students into the program.
Programs with a course component are subject to the normal schedule and course approvals from the
college dean and/or Provost. Departments are encouraged to be strategic in their planning to avoid schedule conflicts and undue competition.
It is necessary to take into consideration all components of the program, besides the academics, for example, transportation, housing, meals, health insurance, and medical forms. You should have this well thought out and carefully planned for your students as well as their parents. This can take quite a bit of time and research, but it is important for cost reasons to find a good deal on all travel arrangements.
Study abroad programs may be offered as either non-credit (cultural experiences) or as credit bearing programs. For participants earning academic credit, all courses are to uphold the same standards of rigor and workload to credit ratio as any traditional credit-bearing course. West Liberty University has professional standards and expectations for course syllabi and the same standards shall be applied to courses with study abroad components. In addition to items on the syllabus checklist, the syllabus must include the tour itinerary, required travel arrangements, and a link to the Study Abroad webpage where students can get details on application procedures and information on international travel.
Syllabi will undergo normal review by department chairs and deans, and the Provost if needed, to assure course integrity. For reoccurring study abroad programs, departments are encouraged to develop dedicated courses that could be used for future short-term study abroad trips. Once in the catalog, the study abroad courses may be used in fall, spring, and summer sessions.
It is left to the departments and faculty leader(s) to decide on any additional requirements for study abroad participants, e.g., pre-requisites, grade point average, and accumulated credit hours. In the case of graduating seniors all academic work, including the study tour, must be completed prior to commencement.
In cases where a dedicated course does not exist for a specific study abroad trip, a special topics form must be completed and approved by the department chair, who will review the syllabus before approving and forwarding the form to the Office of the Provost.
Student learning should be supported by appropriate faculty guidance and leadership with substantive academic content as per professional expectations. The syllabus should clearly articulate all academic expectations, as well as mandatory participation in guided tours. It is the responsibility of the faculty member to monitor the academic integrity of the proposed study program.
Coordination and leadership of Faculty-led Tours
In the absence of a dedicated study abroad office, all faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by West Liberty University must be coordinated through the Office of the Provost. That Office will assist the faculty leader with information pertaining to the study abroad procedures and will serve as the repository for the appropriate levels of approval.
Each study abroad program must have a leader-instructor of record who is a West Liberty University faculty member and who has been approved by the department chair and school dean. In cases where the department chair is the tour organizer, approval must come from the school dean and the Provost. If a dean is the tour organizer, approval must come from the Provost.
Study tours may include co-leaders who receive some form of compensation, e.g., airline tickets, meals, lodging, and/or a stipend. When there are co-leaders, those individuals should have legitimate roles in the study tour, e.g., course planning, logistics, instruction, and evaluation. They should be appropriately approved as co-leaders (see above), and have their duties clearly outlined in advance of the study tour and on file with the department chair and dean.
Contracts with the University
The contract and/or itinerary and other submissions must include full tour details, compensation by the university (if applicable), and full disclosure of compensation from external providers (if applicable). Cancelation and refund policies are to be clearly articulated in the documentation. It is understood that the students will remain the first priority of the tour leader(s) and that the tour leader(s) will be available to the students for the duration of the tour as specified in the syllabus. All contracts associated with a study tour will be in the name of the University and will be signed by an authorized administrator from the Office of Provost. This applies to self-planned tours as well as packaged and customized tours by a tour company. Participants are not to be enrolled until the contract-approval process is complete.
Items required by the Office of the Provost
A draft syllabus with a study tour component and preliminary tour details, approved by the department chair and/or dean, must be delivered to the Office of the Provost with the contract(s) and at least 6 months prior to the date of departure.
In addition, the study tour leader(s) must provide passport and emergency information; a detailed itinerary, including all flight information; names of hotels with phone numbers; and the tour leader(s)’ cell phone number(s). All required travel information must be completed online on the Study Abroad website no later than three weeks in advance of departure for fall and spring semesters, and by the last full week of spring classes for summer tours. Any faculty member failing to submit required information by the deadline will not be permitted to lead a tour the next year. The appropriate dean and Provost will review violations on a case-by-case basis.
Marketing and Enrollment in Study Abroad Tours
Before marketing your program you will need to identify your target group. Does it focus on a particular major or minor? Would you like an upper level course? Can it have an interdisciplinary component to it? Once these decisions are made, you can begin advertising via email, flyers, information session, or classroom discussions.
The Office of the Provost will also post information about upcoming study abroad tours to its website. Both university and non-university marketing outlets and strategies may be utilized for recruitment. All tour participants must be properly registered as “students” at West Liberty University before beginning the tour. Once the faculty leader creates the courses for which the students will receive credit, West Liberty University students are to enroll in those courses for academic credit through the normal WINS registration system. Any student who withdraws for any reason should follow the normal process for withdrawing from the study abroad course(s).
Community/state participants (non-West Liberty students) must complete a transient approval form at their host University and submit a copy to West Liberty Office of Enrollment Services.
Tour participants should register for the study abroad tour with the appropriate faculty leader who will accept them into the program and guide them through the application process.
Academic study tour participants are required to complete/sign a release form with the university prior to tour departure. In the interests of maintaining flexibility with these tours, students may request to stay longer than the specified time for the tour. Any deviation from the scheduled tour itinerary, including departure/return dates, should be approved in advance of travel. If the tour leader(s) or the University’s Office of the Provost determine that a tour participant has significantly disrupted the successful administration of a study abroad tour, for this or any other reason, the Office may suspend such person from future participation. Violators will be dealt with according to established university policy.
Insurance Coverage for Study Abroad Tours
For university-sponsored international travel, all participants must purchase the insurance policy approved by the university in advance of travel. Tour leaders’ insurance costs will be included in the participants’ fees. The refund policy, if applicable, must be clearly articulated in the documentation.
The cost of the program is very important to the students so it is important to keep costs at a minimum. It is best to shop-around best prices for all components of the program from travel & housing to study abroad services. Also, it is a good idea to look into grants to fund the program in its infancy to help get it off the ground. Build your budget to make the program sustainable
Collection of Deposits and Funds
It is important to work closely with the VP of Finance in order to set-up the most workable procedures for collecting money from students, as well as disbursements for requirement payments for travel, housing, etc. In order to avoid confusion and problems with payments, it is important to make these arrangements before advertising the program.
Most study abroad providers will direct bill the students for all required fees. However, for faculty-led study tours the West Liberty University business office will handle all deposits and funds related to a study tour, posting them to the respective student accounts. Tour leaders may receive cash advances through the Business Office or, if appropriate, from the West Liberty University Foundation. The West Liberty pcards may not be used for cash advances either domestically or internationally.
Course and tour revenue must cover all expenses unless arrangements have been made and approved to use supplemental funds from the department, school, or other university account. Faculty leaders are encouraged to budget an extra 5% into the cost of the tour as a contingency.
A detailed, pre-departure orientation will be provided by all study abroad providers for all participants. Faculty-led tour leaders are expected to contact the governmental websites for travel advisories and pertinent country information to be shared with tour participants.
Tour Leader’s Expenses and Faculty Load
The tour leader’s (and co-leader’s) travel expenses may be covered by a tour company or, in the case of a self-planned tour, be incorporated into the participants’ tour fees. In other words, the faculty member developing the study tour may build the travel costs into the overall budget, with each student paying his/her share of the tour leader(s)’ expenses. Compensation, travel expenses, and other benefits must be approved by the university.
Academic study tours may be counted in the faculty member’s course load during the academic year with approval by the appropriate dean and the Provost. For summer sessions, faculty will be compensated using the current summer rate, and if the course is under-enrolled, the compensation will be pro-rated. The Provost establishes the summer enrollment minimums.