Education Abroad

 

Benefit of Leading aShort-term Education Abroad Program 

Leading UNA education abroad program gives faculty a rewarding opportunity to reach and connect with students outside their comfort zone in the traditional or online classroom. While abroad, faculty spend more time with students, engaging in the unique role of being an advisor and mentor. The results can mean a positive transformation of faculty, staff, and students that will influence students beyond their time at UNA. 

 

Options and Student Choice: Faculty-led Education Abroad Programs 

When considering a proposal for a faculty-led program, it is helpful to keep in mind why some students choose this type of program. Students who decide to participate in a faculty-led program are likely to do so for one or more of the following reasons: 

  • The desire to go abroad with UNA faculty member: The faculty member may have a reputation or teaching style that attracts students. The student may feel more comfortable going abroad with someone they know and have a relationship with prior to departure and whom they view as a representative of the University. 

  • Interest in a particular course: The assurance that credit for an exact course will be received abroad is a particularly attractive feature of UNA faculty-led programs. 

  • The appeal of UNA-sponsored programs: In uncertain times, some students prefer things that feel safe and familiar, like UNA. Going abroad with UNA program can be comforting for parents and students alike. This is because they are assured the same quality teaching experience the student would receive in Alabama and the support of the Office of International Affairs throughout the program cycle. 

  • The appeal of a program that is pre-planned: Many students want the independence of being abroad but may find an independent immersion experience daunting. The current U.S. student culture increasingly leads to student selection of highly structured programs. 

 

Program Types 

There are two course types that create the backbone of all faculty-led education abroad programs. Only one course type is recognized per program. 

 

Unique Education Abroad Course 

This is UNA course created specifically for the education abroad experience; the course content is not offered at the UNA campus and does not already have its own specific course identifier (i.e., course prefix and number). 

Student credit hours must comply with University credit policy. All participants must earn the same number of credit hours for completion of the course. Subject to approval of appropriate UNA departments, the course may be counted as a substitute for CORE credits or other curricular requirements. To obtain approval from the appropriate UNA departments for course substitution, follow department and university guidelines for course approval. 

 

UNA Course Transplanted Abroad 

This course of instruction is already available on UNA’s campus and can be offered in an international setting. The approved course content and requirements are the same off-campus as they are on-campus. No substitution credit is permitted. It must be clearly demonstrated how each course will be enhanced by the international environment and will be scheduled and taught individually, meeting the same number of classroom hours and study time as it would if it were being conducted on campus. Credits received per student must comply with the credit policy. This course type requires a program proposal and a course schedule, which is due September 01 the year prior to the program’s implementation. 

 

Qualifications to be a Program Leader 

The Program Leader must: 

  • Be employed by the University of North Alabama; 

  • Have academic credibility and appropriate credentials for leading an education abroad course; 

  • Must have relevant, first-hand experience in the country/destination of the program; 

  • Be able to provide country-specific information to students, unless the program is being administered by an approved host partner that is providing the orientation and other management logistics; 

  • Be available to recruit and orient students throughout the course of the program planning process; 

  • And provide a complete syllabus for the proposed course that reflects an academic experience that meets UNA standards 

 

Role and Responsibilities of the Program Leader 

The Program Leader leads the academic aspects of the program and provides student support throughout the program cycle. In addition to the standard duties of teaching a course at UNA (syllabus development, textbook selection, grading, evaluations, etc.), the responsibilities of the Program Leader include: 

  • Obtaining department, college and university approvals for the program. The proposal must include an itinerary, budget, and risk assessment  

  • Selection of academically relevant experiences, field trips, guest lecturers, etc. 

  • Active participation in program promotion and recruitment 

  •  Reviewing applications and selecting participants 

  • Leading pre-departure activities, which may include orientation meetings and/or teaching a preparatory seminar 

  • While abroad, in addition to teaching the course and attending all program-sponsored activities, the Program Leader serves as the primary point of contact for students in need of academic, cultural, and/ or personal guidance, both on a scheduled and emergency basis 

  • Program Leaders also serve as primary communicators throughout the program process, especially while abroad. Program Leaders must notify the Office of International Affairs immediately of any student’s absence by the first day of activities or if a student drops or leaves the program for any reason 

  • Collect and manage student application forms 

  • Work with billing office on the creation and maintenance of the Education Abroad Program auxiliary account  

 

Responsibilities of the College, School, and Department 

The sponsoring college, school, and department are responsible for the following:

  • Signature approval of the program proposal
  • Faculty payment

  • Appointments and salary for teaching assistants (if applicable)

  • Academic advising and registration

  • Making required adjustments with the Office of the Registrar to get the approved course in the schedule of classes

  • Assist with program promotion, student recruitment, and application review

 

Services Provided by the Office of International Affairs 

The Office of International Affairs (OIA) is charged with primary source of support for faculty leading programs abroad. Any faculty member who wishes to direct a program overseas that carries academic credit must work with OIA. The Office of International Affairs also provides pre-departure orientation workshops for students and Program Leaders. OIA’s administrative responsibilities will include: 

  • Coordinating with Program Leader on program development 

  • Establishing and adhering to timelines  

  • Coordinating with faculty to market and promote university-approved abroad programs  

  • Facilitating the application and approval process  

  • Work with billing office on the disbursement of the Education Abroad Scholarship and Education Abroad Program invoices

  • Creation of individual programs within on-line database  

  • Maintain industry standards on best practices in the field 

  • Create forms and procedures to maintain compliance with institutional and state policies  

  • Registration of all participants in travel insurance 

  • Organizing a general orientation session and providing orientation materials  

  • Disseminate and collect program evaluations and final report forms 

  • Provide faculty training and workshops 

  • Enroll all students into proper SA courses 

Program Development Timeline

All Program Leaders will submit a Course Proposal for a Short-Term Faculty-Led Program, outlining the course description, syllabus integrating how site visits enhance learning objectives, previous site experience, role in the teaching load, and signature approval by the department chair. OIA uses a Canvas course to facilitate access to all necessary forms and information. To start the proposal process, prospective Program Leaders should contact OIA to be given access to the Canvas course. All materials for the proposal will be submitted on-line via Canvas. Faculty interested in leading a program abroad will use this canvas shell to create a proposal application and to submit all the pre-acceptance materials for the proposal.

Guidelines for developing such proposals will be provided to Program Leaders, College deans, and department chairs by the Office of International Affairs. These guidelines are not meant to be prescriptive or binding. However, considering them will assist in the development of solid programs that are academically strong and feasible abroad. Department chairs and the Program Leaders will verify the academic rigor of the proposal and its place within the department plans and staffing needs.

 Deadlines for submission of proposal and materials for review are as follows:

FALL TERM

December 1 the year prior

SPRING TERM

May 1 the year prior

SUMMER TERM

September 1 the year prior

Please notify the Office of International Affairs if you are considering proposing a program, so they can get you enrolled in the canvas course.

 

Course Offerings and Approval

To receive approval to teach courses abroad, it is the responsibility of the Program Leaders to facilitate the approval process through their respective departments. Approval from the department chair, the dean, and the Education Abroad Working Group must be granted. Approval for courses must be submitted to the respective department chair and submitted in written form when a proposal is submitted via canvas. If a new course is to be created for a program, it is the responsibility of the Program Leader to follow the standard procedure to request a new undergraduate course through their department. Courses should be posted in the department’s catalog for the corresponding semester no later than 60 days prior to travel (or at the time of registration for the following semester). Education abroad courses meet the same standards as other courses offered by the University and are subject to all of the standard policies and regulations.

 

Limitations

Courses associated with faculty-led programs should consider credits for participation. Upper level credits may have prerequisites that need to be fulfilled which could limit participation on an education abroad program. If open to a variety of academic majors, Program Leaders should also determine if freshmen can be enrolled in upper division credits if there are no prerequisites for the course.

 

Syllabus

Program Leaders must submit a proposed syllabus with their program proposal to have their program considered. Upon approval of a proposal, Program Leaders are responsible for communicating course specific information and the syllabi to students well before departure. Syllabi for courses abroad are required to include the same elements as syllabi for courses that take place on campus.

Registration

Only students who are official participants in the education abroad program may register for the program course(s); Official participants are those who apply on-line, are conditionally accepted to the program, and pay all program fees. Students who have not completed these steps may not register for the program course(s) or participate in program activities.

A graduating senior may participate in a summer program. If the course credit is not needed to fulfill outstanding degree requirements, the student can apply to graduate in the spring. Students who need the course to fulfill their last degree requirement may participate in the program and then complete the process for in absentia graduation so that the degree can be conferred in the summer.

 

Choosing the Right Location

 
Selection of On-Site Program Partners

The faculty-led program coordinator and Program Leader work together to determine which partners are best for the location and academic needs of the program. Some programs contract with a third-party education abroad provider to handle the majority of on-site logistics while others contract with a university and/or a combination of academic contacts, local experts, and travel agents. Major factors in the selection of on-site partners include the faculty’s experience and professional network in the location, the difficulty of running a program in a particular location and the availability of local experts. OIA can recommend on-site partners in some locations; however, OIA relies on the Program Leader’s contacts in other locations.

 

Facilities

Facilities that will host students, whether housing accommodations or for academic study, should maintain the standard of being a healthy and safe place to study for the duration of the program. When considering accommodations, Program Leaders should assess participants and make accommodations accordingly. For example, students of different sexes should not be assigned to the same sleeping quarters. This should be factored in when making arrangements and budgets for accommodations.

 

Health and Safety

Health and safety abroad is a major concern and priority of the University of North Alabama when assisting in planning faculty-led programs. Health and safety involves numerous factors that should be considered when selecting locations, solidifying accommodations, planning excursions, working with community organizations, etc. Program Leaders should always keep in mind the health and safety of their participants while abroad and anticipate situations prior to departure.

A Travel Health & Safety Plan must be submitted 60 days prior to travel. This plan will assist Program Leaders in anticipating issues and creating an action plan in the event of a health and safety emergency. OIA will look at the health and safety at the time of proposal with a critical lens to ensure the safety of UNA students and faculty. Travel to countries with U.S. State Department issued travel warnings must fill out the appropriate forms for approval by the Provost. Forms are available on the _________________________________________.

 

Contacts

Contacts at home and abroad are crucial to safety and well-being of UNA students while abroad. Faculty working with third parties should forward main contacts and responsible parties to OIA to facilitate contractual agreements and for documentation.

 

Program Considerations

In order to minimize the financial barriers for students, OIA emphasizes the importance of containing student costs in the development of program budgets. Below are some factors to consider when developing a program.

Does the significance of the proposed program location justify the cost?

When addressing this question, the most important factor to consider is the connection of the location to the course content. Other factors include student interest in the location, availability of support services, cost and ease of transportation, housing, etc.

Do the proposed excursions further the academic goals of the course of study?

“Tourist” excursions may be costly; if they are not strongly tied to academic goals, consider eliminating these.

Can the academic goals of the program be accomplished in one destination versus multiple locations?

Some programs truly require multiple sites, whereas in others, one destination of significance will serve the academic purposes of the course. Each site adds new transportation expenses and logistical arrangements, which can be very costly. The additional travel can also add to the potential safety risks associated with the program.

Does the anticipated number of students, location, and/or logistics justify the number of  faculty and co- leader?

A low student to faculty ratio often creates an undue cost burden on student participants, who must pay their own expenses plus those of program leaders. More information on minimum ratios is provided  _______.


Does UNA or the Program Leader have a relationship with a university in the desired location?

The ability to connect faculty-led programs to existing university partnerships (usually exchange agreements) has multiple benefits. If the institution can provide logistical support, classroom, and/or housing, it helps control cost and gives potential access to local experts, and a population of students in the host country, thereby deepening the cultural experience of participants.

Payments to Program Leader

The University of North Alabama faculty are compensated according to the guidelines established by the current University policy for Fall, Spring, and Summer course teachings. Faculty and staff working on short-term or long- term programs may be compensated for administrative work, teaching, or a combination of both. Compensation rate is determined at the college level, as it relates to faculty’s course load, current pay, and institutional policies on faculty caps.

 

Faculty Compensation

Compensation for faculty is subject to UNA policies and procedures as published by Human Resources. It is the responsibility of the department to determine the faculty appointment and compensation for the program with their respective departments and College Dean. As a non-academic unit, OIA does not facilitate payment to faculty.

 

Co-Leader Compensation

Compensation for co-leaders, who are either staff or faculty, depends on the duties to be performed or direct responsibilities while abroad. The compensation rate for co-leaders is determined at the college level. If the co-leader is unaffiliated with the university  (i.e. not a staff or faculty), a onetime appointment for their assistance may be facilitated by the sponsoring department. Any co-leader should be at least 21 years of age and able to assume the roles and responsibility of leadership in the event the Program Leader cannot perform outlined duties abroad, including facilitation of the academic component of the program.

 

Reimbursement

Program Leaders must provide receipts for all program purchases in accordance with UNA policies and procedures. Upon return, the Program Leader must submit proper documentation to Purchasing to settle the travel expense account. Receipts must be submitted for all expenses. Non-receipted food for personal consumption while traveling during the program duration is reimbursable up to $34 per day or per the approved budget. Budgeted meals over $34 per day must be in compliance with UNA’s travel policy.[NKH1] 

 

Travel/Cash Advances

Travel advance amounts are considered on a case by case basis and should be submitted for approval to Purchasing

at least 30 days before travel.

 

Payments to Third Party Providers

Contracts

Contractual understandings may be established by written agreements with other institutions or service providers based outside of the United States. Contracts need to address numerous issues consisting of but not limited to  liability, services, insurance, identification, choice of law, and jurisdiction. All contractual agreements for services related to UNA-sponsored international travel must be reviewed, approved, and facilitated by the Office of International Affairs, the College Dean, and Vice President of Finance. Such agreements for services include but are not limited to agreements established for housing, meals, tour guides, hired drivers, on-site administrators, and teachers. When program logistics depend on personal and professional connections of the Program Leader, the program coordinator should be included in program-related correspondence and the terms of business should be agreed upon in writing. In addition, the program coordinator should have the contact information of all businesses, individuals, and back-ups that perform services for the program.

 

Invoices

The third party will submit an invoice in accordance with the contract agreement, and UNA will pay for said invoice from the proper auxiliary account as to the EA Program.

 

Developing a Program Budget

All University of North Alabama short-term education abroad programs require a program fee (i.e.- the cost of the program, which typically includes lodging, varying numbers of meals, field trips/social activities, and international health insurance) in addition to the regular UNA tuition and fees. All efforts must be made to keep such costs to a minimum without jeopardizing the quality of the program. All program budgets must be finalized with the College Dean and submitted via canvas to the Office of International Affairs. Once finalized, it is strongly discouraged to alter the budget, though in the case of an emergency budgetary changes can be made. It is important that all changes be known to the College Dean and a resubmission of the new budget is sent to The Office of International Affairs at the Faculty Leaders earliest convenience. Program expenses can be defined as either fixed or variable. Costs associated with short-term education abroad programs are as follows:

 

Fixed Costs
  • Fixed costs do not change based on the number of participants. Fixed costs include:
  • Contingency fee as a percentage
  • Supplemental insurance for faculty and students
  • Per-diem meal coverage with consideration of location in conjunction with the UNA Travel Policy

 

Variable (Per Student) Costs

Variable costs are dependent on the number of participants – for example, room and board costs. It is important to be aware of which operational costs are fixed and which are variable, because the fixed costs determine the minimum funding necessary to run the program, and will thus determine the number of participants needed. Faculty fees for participation are divided among the total number of students. These fees include, but are not limited to:

  • International travel costs
  • In-country travel
  • Meals
  • Insurance
  • Accommodations Entrance fees

 

Contingency Fund

The contingency fund for each faculty-led program safeguards the program budget from external factors like fluctuations in currency conversions, fluctuations in transportation costs between budgeting and purchase, potential emergency costs, and any potential shortfalls in budgeting  i.e. transportation costs or admissions to program activities. The contingency fund is factored into program budgets as a percentage of the overall cost per student at a rate of 4-percent.[NKH2] 

 

Exchange Rates

When planning a budget for a faculty-led program, it is important to note that exchange rates and currency are in constant flux. The contingency fund is designed to account for exchange rate discrepancies from time of budget approval to actual travel. Program Leaders should periodically evaluate the exchange rate of the country in which they are to travel. As pre-departure approaches, the exchange rate should be monitored closely. Any large swings in currency should be brought to the attention of OIA and handled on a case by case budgetary basis.

 

Minimum Enrollment

Program fees are determined based on the anticipated cost of running a program with a specific target number of students. Because many program costs are divided among student participants, OIA recommends a minimum enrollment of 10 students per program. In many cases, the actual minimum enrollment to run a particular program is higher in order to reduce the per-student cost of the program, particularly with established programs that have a proven record of participant enrollment. The final minimum enrollment is determined with the Program Leader and sponsoring department as part of the budgetary review process. Once established, this enrollment number becomes the “break-even point” for the program and is used to determine the final program fee. Maximum enrollment in the program should be established at the same time. OIA generally recommends that programs not exceed a ratio of faculty to students of 1:20 at most.

 

Scholarships and Financial Aid

If students wish to apply for or use current financial aid, they must work with student financial aid services. It is the responsibility of the student to seek assistance from The Office of Financial Aid. Education Abroad can provide assistance in budgeting for a faculty-led program if needed.

Program Proposal Process

Step-by-step process in Appendix Part II

 

Selection Criteria

The Faculty-led Education Abroad Working Group – a standing working group of faculty peers, appointed staff from various offices, and the University General Counsel – will review proposals as well as assessment programs (page 8). The working group’s purpose in reviewing proposals is to examine logistics, preparation of the faculty, and the viability of geographic areas, and how site visits enhance the learning objectives of the course. Curricular and academic issues, such as credit substitutions, prerequisites and CORE requirements must be resolved in the department.  All proposed courses abroad will be held to the standard of traveling with academic purpose, as stated by UNA governing officials. If a course is seen as not meeting this standard or has cause for concern, the working group will  make a recommendation of changes to be done by the Program Leader and then resubmitted by a new date specified by the working group.

 

Submission Deadlines

To help keep all parties informed regarding the different tasks that must be completed, detailed timelines for faculty-led education abroad programs are included in the Appendix that defines OIA, Program Leader and the department/college role. Program coordinators use these timelines to keep programs on track and it will help you and the staff supporting your program to use these timelines as a reference tool. Please refer also to the Roles and Responsibilities document to help define the specific tasks of each party throughout the program cycle. A program’s success depends on close adherence to these timelines. Please note that undue delay in the completion of any step in this process can jeopardize the execution of a program.

 

Program Step Notifications

Within one month after the application deadline, Program Leaders will be informed by OIA whether or not their respective program proposals have met the minimum qualifications and can move forward in the program planning process. Programs that are not permitted to move forward for that year’s cycle will be given recommendations for strengthening the proposal and encouraged to resubmit or apply for the following year.

 

Program Cancellation/Low Enrollment

UNA reserves the right to discontinue any education abroad program at any time before or after departure, at its sole discretion. Among the reasons for discontinuation and cancellation are travel warnings and advisories from the U.S. Department of State and insufficient enrollment.

 

There are two points at which programs may be canceled for low enrollment: the application deadline and the deposit deadline. If a program drops below its minimum enrollment at either of these points, the Program Leader will notify OIA and give the department and college the opportunity to determine if funds are available to subsidize 100% of the budget shortfall. If funds are not available, the program will be canceled.

 

As a general rule, Faculty-led programs do not extend application or deposit deadlines. If the deposit deadline has passed and the minimum program enrollment has been maintained, the program will not be canceled due to withdrawals that may occur later in the semester. Students are responsible for any funds that are deposited on their behalf if they withdraw after the deposit deadline.

Marketing and Recruitment

Program promotion and recruitment are an essential part of any education abroad program. Active involvement in the recruitment process by the Program Leader and sponsoring department can make all the difference in a program’s success or failure. Education Abroad staff collaborate with the Program Leader on promotional materials and strategies, but brochures and website updates are no substitute for one-on-one faculty-to-student contact. All contracts must be complete and prices finalized with the Office of International Affairs before any part of the University can begin advertising or marketing the program. Advertising must be truthful and emphasize both the benefits, cost of the program, relevant course information, and potential program restrictions.

 

Information Sessions/Promotional Events

Program Leaders should plan to give presentations about their programs in a variety of venues during the promotional period (beginning of October to end of November for summer programs). The Program Leader should focus on the following at promotional events:

  • Inform students of the course, requirements, and academic content of the program.
  • Articulate connections between destination country and course content.
  • Talk about the cultural experiences you will incorporate into the itinerary, including a tentative program schedule.
  • Explain how grading works.
  • Explain criteria for acceptance into course and/or program (course prerequisites, language level, writing experience, lab research, etc.).
  • Encourage diversity among program participants.
  • Share your enthusiasm for the program with prospective participants. This may include showing photos and describing the importance/relevance of the location and coursework.
  • Inform students of the first step in the application process, and the program application deadline.

 

Alternative Promotion Vehicles

The OIA and faculty may collaborate to recruit students for summer programs. It is the responsibility of the Program Leader to initiate marketing efforts or planning conversations with OIA. Program Leaders can promote their program through the following promotional outlets:

  • Information sessions
  • Education abroad fair
  • Fliers, catalogs, posters, and website.
  • Class visits and other promotional activities in relevant courses (to be arranged with appropriate courses by the Program Leader).
  • Display cases (to be arranged in the college or department).
  • Student organization meetings.
  • College/department newsletters or listservs. Academic advisors.

 

Involving UNA Students

 

Home Campus

Students attending the home campus can make in-person advising appointments with Education Abroad advisors to discuss questions, application procedures, concerns or feasibility of participation. Financial Assistance questions will be forwarded to the Office of Financial Aid.

Involving Non-UNA Students

Office of International Affairs makes a small number of programs available to students matriculated at other U.S. institutions. Most of these opportunities are geared towards students who are looking for a short-term faculty-led summer program. It is important to note that any non-UNA student must also meet application requirements including conduct and GPA. In order for OIA to accept non-UNA students, the program must:

  • Offer UNA credit: In order to receive financial aid from UNA, eligible undergraduate students must take a minimum of 12 credit hours in a long semester and 6 hours in the summer. Eligible graduate students must take a minimum of 6 and 3 credit hours respectively.
  • The program should have previously run at least once with OIA support.
  • Accept a sufficient number of UNA students to meet minimum enrollment requirements. Non-UNA students do not count toward minimum enrollment requirements.
  • Faculty interested in admitting non-UNA students should discuss the academic, financial, and logistical impacts with OIA.

 

Unaffiliated Travelers

Requests for accompanying, non-enrolled family, partners, or minors should be discussed fully with the Faculty-led Education Abroad Review Committee prior to granting program participation. OIA cannot assist with housing, childcare, health care, travel arrangements, or any other necessary support for spouses, children, partners, parents, or friends that accompany program participants. Program budgets should not be dependent on unaffiliated travelers, but solely based on minimum student participation. Unaffiliated participants on an education abroad program must not hinder or detract from any student’s academic or cultural experience abroad.

 

UNA is not responsible for the injury, illness, loss, or death of spouses, children, partners, parents, or friends accompanying participants in education abroad programs, nor will any expenses for unaffiliated travel be collected or distributed by UNA. Concerning all unaffiliated travelers, UNA Affiliated Waiver & Release [NKH1] form must be submitted to OIA by the Program Leader signed by the appropriate parties. Justification for Unaffiliated traveler’s participation must be submitted to OIA with the form as part of the approval process. Please see the Unaffiliated Traveler Guidelines in the appendix for more information on unaffiliated traveler classifications and procedures for approval.

Applications and Required Materials

 

Pre-Decision Application

The OIA has a standard on-line application form for all students wanting to go on a faculty-led program. A complete on-line preselection application includes:

  • The Faculty-led Education Abroad Program application
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Financial aid agreement (if applicable to student)

 

Post Acceptance Materials

Post-acceptance materials to be collected through the canvas application, which are subject to change or modification, include:

  • Faculty-led Participation Agreement
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Photo Release
  • RSVP to pre-departure orientation Education Abroad Participation Agreement
  • Terms of Dismissal
  • Travel Health and Safety Class (proof of participation)
  • Education Abroad Assumption of Risk, Program Waiver, and Release Form
  • Health History Form (self-disclosure of any medical or health circumstances to better serve students participating)
  • Scan of passport (students seeking a new passport should do so in advance as it can take up to six weeks for processing)

 

Application Deadline

The application deadline serves two important functions in upholding a faculty-led program. First, deadlines are guides to planning marketing and recruitment efforts. They provide a benchmark for Program Leaders and for OIA in the planning process. Deadlines also require student commitment to a program and create a base for continuation of the budgeting process as logistics are solidified for a program. Applications to faculty-led programs will not be extended nor will late applications be considered. The purpose of the application deadline is to ensure the equity of a program. If a program does not have enough applicants at the time of deadline, the program is subject to cancellation. Amending deadlines or changing costs that are contrary to what programs are advertised for affects the credibility of a program. Once a deadline for applications has passed and enrollment drops to an insufficient number, the program is subject to cancellation. Program budgets, regardless of applicant enrollment, are not to exceed the advertised cost, once student payments have been accepted.

 

Student Screening and Selection

 

Assessing Suitability for Education Abroad

All students wishing to participate in a faculty-led program must be a full-time student at the time of application. Education abroad policy states that students cleared for an education abroad program must be in good academic standing without disciplinary infractions. All students applying for an abroad program will be vetted for infractions by Student Conduct and the Registrar for academic standing ensuring a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Any concerns regarding student standing will be reported to the Program Leader of the respective program and follow up actions will be agreed upon between the Office of International Affairs and the Program Leader. Students will be included in the interview process only after a full application is submitted.

 

Red Flags

Although some applicants may meet all of the established eligibility criteria, certain “red flags” in their application materials and/or behavior may require special consideration. These “red flags” do not necessarily preclude a student’s acceptance into the program, but they are often indicators that further discussion with the student or other involved parties is necessary in order to make a participation decision. Some examples of these indicators include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Student’s essay indicates that their primary motivation to study abroad is questionable (desire to escape a situation or person, focus on travel or extended vacation, for others to visit or accompany them abroad, etc.).
  • Faculty recommendation mentions reservations or discloses information that could affect the student’s participation (concerns about maturity, behavior, recent events in student’s life, etc.).
  • Student’s academic record or advisor notes show recent drastic decline in academic performance, breaks in attendance, or multiple absence/failing reports.
  • Student demonstrates erratic or inappropriate behavior in his or her interactions with faculty or OIA staff (before or after acceptance into the program).

 

Program Leaders who identify “red flags” in a student’s application materials or in interactions with a student are encouraged to notify the OIA as soon as possible. The Program Leader and OIA will work together to determine the appropriate course of action, which may include a student interview, follow up with faculty recommender, or discussion with Faculty-led Education Abroad Review Committee.

 

Conditional Acceptance and Special Conditions

Applicants who are chosen to participate in a program are considered “conditionally accepted.” Following admission into a program, students must meet certain expectations and obligations. Therefore, a student’s acceptance into the program is on the condition that these are fulfilled. If the student does not fulfill these requirements, they may not be permitted to participate in the program. To meet the criteria of conditional acceptance, a student must:

  • Below minimum academic standing.
  • Unsuccessfully complete all course prerequisites by the time of departure.
  • Incomplete on-line portal forms by stated deadlines.
  • Hasn’t maintained behavior consistent with the University Code of Conduct and Education Abroad Assumption of
  • Risk, Program Waiver, and Release Form
  • Doesn’t Meet any additional requirements of the host university/program provider, if applicable (varies by program).
  • Absent to required orientations and a travel health and safety class.

 

“Special conditions” is a classification most often used for freshmen or transfer students who do not have a UNA GPA at the time of application. Once the first semester’s GPA is posted, the student is moved to the “conditionally accepted” status as long as his or her GPA meets the 2.25 minimum.

 

Special conditions may also apply to students who are enrolled in a course on campus that is a prerequisite for the course taught abroad. Similarly, if there is an applicant that the Program Leader would like to see academic improvement from before granting conditional acceptance, a status of special conditions may be assigned. These situations may require students to turn in a mid-semester grade report or fulfill other stipulations as determined by the Program Leader and/or the program coordinator. It is the Program Leaders responsibility to ensure students “accepted with special conditions” understand the required actions for removing the conditions.

 

Disability Accommodations

Sharing in the philosophy that all students should be assured equal access and opportunity, OIA will work with the Disability Support Services and appropriate overseas personnel to identify and obtain reasonable accommodations and to assist a student with a documented disability in planning for a successful international experience.

 

Post Acceptance Requirements for Student Participation

After students have been accepted into the program, Program Leaders must ensure that participants complete or are in possession of the following:

  • Valid passport and visa (if applicable)
  • Pre-departure orientation and on-site orientation Completion of the Terms and Conditions form[NKH1] 
  • Registration in the U.S. Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) Education Abroad Assumption of Risk, Program Waiver, and Release Form Financial aid agreement (if applicable to student)[NKH2] 
  • Health History Form (self-disclosure of any medical or health circumstances to better serve students participating)
  • Medical insurance that covers the student while abroad- students should review their health plan’s claim filing procedures for coverage abroad and make sure they carry their health plan ID cards with them.

 

Late Applicants

History and experience have proven that late applicants are not reliable program participants; therefore, UNA does not allow late applications or deadline extensions for the purpose of a program to meet number for a class to make. Throughout the recruitment phase it is important to keep in mind the target enrollment number and final application deadline. Once a class has made it is acceptable to allow students to apply and be waitlisted.

 

Withdrawals/Refunds

Students who withdraw from a UNA program after accepting a place but before the program begins will lose the non-refundable deposit and any unrecoverable costs. There are no refunds after the start of the program. Students must understand that they are responsible for full payment of the amount owed to the department. There are circumstances under which University of North Alabama, or its agent, has the authority to require that a student withdraw from the education abroad program. These circumstances include but are not limited to the following:

  • Students whose conduct while in the program is deemed undesirable and whose actions are in violation of the University of North Alabama's Student Code of Conduct. Alcohol abuse or drug possession or use.
  • Destruction or misuse of property.
  • Students whose conduct is in violation of the foreign country’s civil and/or criminal statutes.
  • Situations in which the behavior, whether academic or social, of the student causes his/her presence in the program to jeopardize either the reputation of the program, program coordinator, professor, translators, or the participation of others in the program.
  • Situations in which the behavior of the student is deemed disrespectful to the culture. This includes but is not limited to: improper clothing, attitude, verbal or body language, improper displays of affection, sharing a room with the opposite sex, and use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Arguing or fighting is deemed as a serious occurrence and is not acceptable.

 

No warnings or second chances will be given. Students dismissed from the program for the above reasons will receive no credit for work done, will be considered as not having completed the program, and will not be entitled to any refund. They will be responsible for all travel and other expenses incurred due to their dismissal.

 

Student Registration

Students accepted into UNA summer programs are to register for the program when the session course catalog becomes available. After registration, the student will be billed the tuition and fees for the courses they are registered. The program fee WILL NOT be charged by the University of North Alabama via their student accounts. Payment schedules and deadlines will be determined by the Program Leader and should be careful to follow the University calendar for particular terms.

 

Pre-departure Logistics

According to UNA’s Travel Policy, all international travel must be documented as per the policy and submitted for approval no later than 60 days prior to travel. The required documents submitted to OIA via canvas include the International Travel Plan, Emergency Communication Plan, and Emergency Contacts list.

 

Health and Safety

The health and wellbeing of UNA students abroad is the responsibility of the Program Leader and co-leader. Therefore, it is important to plan for scenarios that could jeopardize a program abroad and establish a procedure for dealing with health and safety issues. Health and safety incidences are not discriminatory and can happen to anyone at any time. Program Leaders are required to submit a Travel Health & Safety Plan at least 60 days prior to travel. The process of creating the plan will help Program Leader’s plan for incidents and response. In preparation for their time abroad, students are required to sign up for and attend a mandatory Travel Health and Safety Clinic provided on campus through OIA  and Health Services. Students who fail to attend the clinic are subject to program withdrawal.

 

Passports and Visas

All students must obtain a passport, and some program locations may require a visa. Visa requirements vary depending on each student’s citizenship and the country to which he or she is traveling.  OIA staff will guide Program Leaders on visa requirements at key points during the education abroad faculty-led program process, however obtaining a valid passport and securing the correct visa is ultimately the responsibility of the student.

 

Medical Insurance

International health care coverage is required for all  participates on UNA abroad  programs. Purchasing international health care coverage will enable students to obtain medical care without the requirement or a possibly large financial outlay prior to treatment. Program Leaders are required to complete the Education Abroad Import Template on canvas to OIA 60 days before departure to register their program for the mandatory international health care coverage.

 

Required Orientations

 

Pre-Departure

All short-term faculty-led programs abroad have a mandatory pre-departure student orientation, coordinated by the Office of International Affairs. Students need to be oriented on cultural and logistical aspects of the program before departure and upon arrival. Orientations are coordinated in conjunction with OIA before departure for both summer and semester programs. Program Leaders are encouraged to schedule additional sessions to support academic, cultural preparation, as well as group cohesion.

 

On-Site Orientation

All programs are required to hold an on-site orientation. Attendance at the on-site orientation is mandatory. Students must plan their arrival in the host country to ensure participation in the on-site orientation. Special attention should be given to differences in world time zones when booking flights to ensure arrival.

Supervision of the Group On-site

The Program Leader should fulfill the following duties on-site:

  • Provide an initial on-site orientation to introduce the students to the host site and culture (may be in conjunction with on-site program organizer).
  • Contact the OIA within 24 hours after arrival to confirm all participants are safe and accounted for.
  • Notify the OIA immediately if any student leaves the program.
  • Act as liaison between the students and any individuals or entities providing services to the program.
  • Ensure the on-site cooperating institution/organization is delivering services according to the contract.
  • If problems arise, alert the OIA immediately so any discrepancies can be resolved quickly.
  • Communicate academic and disciplinary roles clearly to the students.
  • Respond to any emergency situations or serious incidents which may arise (notify the OIA as soon as possible by email or phone - see section on Emergencies).
  • Complete the incident report to accurately document any problems and send to OIA.
  • Itemize usage of any fund advances and other necessary expenses and collect receipts, which will be submitted to Purchasing at the program’s end.
  • Monitor the health and general welfare of all participants.
  • Never loan students program or personal funds unless it is an extreme emergency.
  • Program Leaders will not be reimbursed by the University for loaning money to participants unless authorized in advance by Purchasing.

 

Be aware of possible indicators of culture shock. Most, though not all, students experience some level of culture shock. The concrete indicators of culture shock vary greatly from individual to individual. These can include but are not limited to: feelings of helplessness, loneliness, alienation, sleeping more than usual, depression, getting angry easily, decline in flexibility, stereotyping of host culture, increase of physical ailments, eating problems, inability to concentrate, and uncontrollable crying.

 

Expectations for Student Participants

On faculty-led education abroad programs, students are required to attend all classes and all excursions that are part of the program itinerary. Program Leaders should take attendance at all classes and excursions and are encouraged to inform the OIA of unexplained absences for emergency management. Participants in an education abroad program are also expected to behave as ambassadors for both UNA and the United States.  It is often difficult for students to understand what is expected of them in this regard, so it is important to stress these issues in the pre-departure orientation(s) and again upon arrival. Students need to be aware that behaviors with minimal or no consequences in the U.S. may have major implications in their host country. This information should be presented repeatedly to students – not just at the pre-departure orientation. Topics to be included in these discussions include:

  • Appropriate dress.
  • Local laws and mobility (which neighborhoods in the area are safe).
  • Gender dynamics and youth/elder relationships.
  • Food and meal etiquette.
  • How to recognize signs of displeasure on the part of host country nationals.

 

Disciplinary Problems

The Office of International Affairs should be notified immediately about any serious disciplinary problems with any student on the program. In less serious cases, mediation by OIA may be required. In serious cases, the student may be dismissed from the program and sent home with no credit awarded and no refund. This will be determined through consultation with the Program Leader, OIA, and UNA legal counsel (see Dismissing Students below). In cases of arrest, UNA assumes no financial responsibility for legal aid to students. However, it is appropriate for the Program Leader, with OIA, to assist students in contacting their families and appropriate government offices. Students using or selling illegal substances will be immediately dismissed from the program, with no credit awarded and no refund.

 

Alcohol Use

The subject of alcohol policies is frequently debated in international education. Contention usually centers around “whose laws are in effect,” given that laws concerning alcoholic beverages vary greatly from country to country and that in many countries abroad it is perfectly legal for university students to purchase and consume alcohol. The consideration of the University of North Alabama’s policy on alcohol is still in effect while abroad but can be complicated both to interpret and enforce abroad. In general, it is wise to follow these guidelines:

  • Students should be educated about legally and culturally appropriate behavior regarding alcohol, as well as the consequences of inappropriate behavior. Be aware that alcohol abuse is not tolerated anywhere in the world and will not be tolerated on UNA Education Abroad programs.
  • Violation of local laws and/or UNA policy may result in dismissal from the program.
  • Responsible use of alcohol is required on the part of the Program Leader as well as each program participant.

 

Dismissing Students

All students on faculty-led programs sign an agreement indicating that they understand the Terms of  Dismissal [NKH1] form an education abroad program. The decision to send students home, even when made for the best reasons, may result in negative responses. It is essential when contemplating an expulsion or an evacuation to consult immediately with the OIA who will, in turn, consult with other appropriate offices on the UNA campus. Some instances of dismissal may include (but not limited to):

  • Criminal activity on the part of the individual: arrest, drug use, physical or sexual assault, etc.
  • Inappropriate behavior on the part of the individual: a continuing pattern of culturally inappropriate behavior which does not improve with advising and which endangers the program’s relationship with the host institution and/or community; or behavior which is insensitive to other group members and/or damaging to the program group’s morale.
  • An emotional crisis which greatly affects the individual.
  • Death of a program participant, or death or serious illness in the family.
  • Serious illness, either physically or psychologically of a participant.

 

In order to dismiss a student abroad, the following procedures should be followed:

 

Document the Incident: In the event that a student is subject to the Terms of Dismissal[NKH2] , it is the responsibility

of the faculty/staff leader to document the incident(s) by recording the details of the incident on the Faculty Incident Report [NKH3] for Dismissal form [NKH4] (see appendix). In the event the form is not available, Program Leaders should collect the following information:

  • Name of student and name of program Date/location of the incident
  • Violation being cited in reference to the Terms of Dismissal and justification for withdrawal Documentation of warnings (verbal or written) given to the student prior to the dismissal process

 

Report the Incident: The first receiver of pending dismissal incidents is the Office of International Affairs. OIA will assess the severity of the incident and forward the report onto Legal Counsel and the Student Conduct for review.

 

Participant Justification: Depending on the severity of the case, the student pending dismissal will speak with the Student Conduct to provide their justification for the infractions. The Legal Counsel and Student Conduct, in consultation with OIA, will approve the student dismissal if necessary.

 

Coordinate the Dismissal: Program Leaders and OIA will facilitate in the dismissal of the participant including arrangements for return to UNA. Upon return, OIA and Student Conduce will work together to correct the situation. The program fees or tuition paid will not be refunded to the student.

 

Student Withdrawal

If a student has arrived at the program site and decides to withdraw, he or she must begin by discussing the situation with the on-site UNA Program Leader. The Program Leader should consult with the OIA to determine whether a solution exists for the situation. Financial implications and academic implications must be articulated to the student. If, after consultation, the student still plans to withdraw from the program, he or she must submit a signed and dated statement to the Program Leader[NKH6] . This statement must indicate that the student understands that effective as of the date indicated, he or she will no longer be considered a student in the program and is therefore responsible and liable for his or her own behavior, transportation home, insurance, etc. The Program Leader should send the signed and dated statement to the Office of International Affairs and the OIA will contact proper representatives at UNA and the student’s parents or legal guardian(s).

 

Expectations for Program Leaders

In addition to being responsible for serving as the academic and administrative representative of the program, Program Leaders are also responsible for:

  • Developing the program and coordinating on-site delivery of the course(s), including engaging teachers and guides, and arranging adequate transportation.
  • Communicating information about the program and contact information to the parents of participants.
  • Maintaining contact with appropriate host country institutions and government offices.
  • Being on-site one time prior to the students’ arrival in the host country.
  • Planning and organizing cultural orientation on site, including organizing and participating in cultural visits and excursions during orientation and throughout the program.
  • Handling behavioral problems according to established procedures, outlined above.
  • Preparing for and responding to emergencies, as outlined in University Regulations Regarding Emergency Procedures[NKH7] .
  • Attend the health and well-being of program participants.
  • Maintaining clear financial records, including keeping track of expenses and saving receipts.
  • Exercising caution with confidential information.
  • Keeping UNA informed about developments concerning the program and participating students.
  • Notifying OIA of any changes in itinerary or contact information.
  • Documenting events and activities.
  • Submitting final grades, final report, and facilitating program evaluations to OIA.

 

Expectations for Co-Leaders

In the event that the Program Leader becomes unable to perform the duties and responsibilities required to facilitate an education   abroad program, the co-leader will assume all responsibilities for the program group including communication with OIA, adherence to the communication, travel and safety plan submitted before departure, as well as safety of all participants. The co-leader should also be able to facilitate the remainder of the course in the event that the Program Leader is unable to. Procedures for emergencies can be found later in this section in the event that Program Leaders are impacted directly and are not able to perform their role.[NKH8] 

 

Program Leader Conduct

Faculty, staff, and other administrations of the University of North Alabama are responsible for assuring the highest ethical and professional standards and behavior when working with students. For more information regarding faculty and staff expectations in relation to working with students in a professional environment, consult the UNA Faculty Handbook or Staff Handbook. Faculty representing UNA abroad are subject to the same set of standards for conduct as they are when on campus. Furthermore, The University of North Alabama adheres to the Forum on Education Abroad’s Code of Ethics and expects all programs to meet this standard, at minimum, following the ethical principles outlined: 

  • Truthfulness and Transparency:  Education abroad practices and decision-making processes should be appropriately disclosed, periodically reviewed and effectively revised as needed. 
  • Responsibility to Students:  Education abroad should keep students' best interests foremost in mind, including their academic objectives, exposure to cross-cultural learning and experiences, professional goals, personal safety and security, individual growth and financial welfare. 
  • Relationship with Host Societies:  Institutions and organizations should endeavor to create sustainable, mutually beneficial local relationships that are respectful of economic, social, and environmental concerns. 
  • Observance of Best Practices: Institutions and organizations should endeavor to identify and follow best professional practices, exhibit sensitivity and respect for cultural differences and ensure compliance with applicable home and host country law. 
  • Conflicts of Interest: Institutions and organizations should identify and appropriately handle potential conflicts of interest, or the appearance thereof, based on the best interests of the students1. See also Murray State Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct. 

 

Title IX Compliance

All faculty, staff, other administrations, and students, as per UNA policy, are to adhere to the Title IX Policy whether at UNA or abroad. Title IX and its implementing regulation, covers nondiscrimination in employment and in access to educational opportunities. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. Sexual harassment is unwelcome, sexual or gender-based verbal, written, online and/or physical conduct. Any student, faculty, or staff member with questions or concerns about sex discrimination or sexual harassment or who believes that he or she has been the victim of sex discrimination or sexual harassment may contact the Office of Title IX for assistance. The Office of Title IX is available to discuss options, explain university policies and procedures, and provide education on relevant issues.

 

On-site Safety Procedures

The Program Leader is responsible for communicating applicable codes of conduct and the consequences of noncompliance to participants. In the event there are U.S. State Department public announcements, worldwide caution, travel alerts or warnings, the OIA  will  be in contact with the Program Leaders abroad. They will then relay any applicable information to group participants and, at times, their emergency contacts.

 

In the event of a local, regional or global crisis, Program Leaders should maintain contact with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updated security information. If a crisis should occur, they must review precautions with participants so they can better secure their safety. In emergency situations, the Program Leaders must contact the OIA as soon as possible to confirm the well-being and overall status of the group.

 

Program Leaders must also brief students on safe behavior, depending on the local situation and culture. This may include advising students to maintain a low profile, avoid crowds and protest groups, restaurants, and locations where Americans are known to frequent. Students should keep up with local news through newspapers, radio, and television and, in the event of disturbances or protests, do not get involved. Students should be asked to use common sense and caution when divulging information to strangers about themselves, the program, and their fellow students. In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety circumstances, Program Leaders must follow the emergency procedures as indicated in this handbook.

 

Behavioral Problems and Response

In the event of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, it is the Program Leader’s duty to respond. Depending on the severity of the violation(s), the responses may include an incident report/verbal warning, an incident report/written warning, and/or an incident report accompanied by a termination report[NKH11] . Students who are dismissed incur all the expenses of returning home and do not receive any refund from UNA. The following behaviors are among those that may result in immediate dismissal from a program:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Harassment
  • Possession  use or distribution of illegal drugs Setting a fire or possession of explosives
  • Possession of a weapon
  • Theft

 

Responding to Crises and Emergencies

The OIA is responsible for coordinating the University’s management of emergencies affecting participants in UNA Education Abroad Programs. It is the responsibility of Program Leaders of a UNA program to follow the procedures outlined below and to be sure to inform students about these procedures upon arrival on-site. In the case of an emergency, Program Leaders should be prepared to be on-call 24 hours a day until the emergency is resolved.

Incident Documentation and Reporting

All incidents or emergencies should be documented as completely as possible and as soon as possible after they occur. Qualifying events include but are not limited to; allegations of injury, illness, criminal activity (student is a victim of a crime). The Office of International Affairs should be provided with documentation within 24 hours of any incident if possible. In documenting an incident, Program Leaders should use the Education Abroad Participant Incident Form [NKH12] (see appendix). If access to this form is not available, group leaders should make note of the following:

  • Date and time of incident.
  • Location of incident.
  • Names of all students involved.
  • Names of all others present.
  • How and when you learned of the incident if you were not present.
  • Brief description of the incident.
  • Brief description of your response to the incident.
  • Names and contact information of any physicians, officials, or police involved.
  • If a student was injured or ill and received medical attention, a description of the treatment and any recommended aftercare, including the names of medication.
  • If a student was incapable of making decisions (about medical treatment, for instance), explain who made those decisions.
  • Notes regarding contact with students’ parents and any UNA offices.

 

*All incident reports should be submitted as soon as possible to OIA.

Reconciliation of Program Expenses

UNA requires complete financial reporting for all expenses incurred by the program. Program Leaders are required to submit all receipts and documentation for expenses incurred within 60 days of your return to Purchasing.

 

Credits and Grades

The Program Leaders are required to submit the course grades within two weeks of the program’s conclusion. If a program is working with a third party and official transcripts will be sent an accurate timeline for grade transfer and evaluation must be articulated to all student participants.

 

Program Evaluation

Program Leaders will ask students to evaluate the education abroad program by using the appropriate institutional or department forms. The Office of International Programs will ask Program Leaders to convene a meeting with the program coordinator upon their return, to document travel, accommodations, unforeseen problems, and to provide a detailed overview of the program.

 

Post-Program Debriefing with Office of International Affairs

Program Leaders must also submit a program report to the OIA within 30 days after the program ends. This Program Leader report is critical to the program process, as insights, suggestions and lessons learned are incorporated into the planning for future programs.