PRIOR A WSU-SPONSORED STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM
All WSU-sponsored study abroad programs must be initiated by a faculty member (either contract or adjunct) who becomes the "Program Director" for that particular program. Program Directors are expected to fulfill the following roles:
- Academic faculty and counselor who provides academic instruction and advice to participants throughout the program.
- Activities organizer who arranges for appropriate activities that will enhance the experience of the participants (e.g., excursions, field trips and cultural events).
- Budget/finance officer who manages funds during the program and submits a budget report at the end of the program, in consultation with the Study Abroad Office and the Purchasing Office.
- Emergency management person who responds appropriately to any emergency.
- Participant manager who recruits, selects and orients program participants.
- Personal resource person who assists participants with personal, emotional, financial and health problems, and acts as liaison between participants and appropriate local agencies to acquire needed services.
- Program marketer who develops a marketing and promotion campaign for the program.
The Program Director should meet with the Study Abroad Office personnel (Hurst
Center, Room 102B,
626-7157) to review the procedures for designing, implementing and evaluating a WSU-sponsored study abroad program. To ensure that all required forms and procedures are completed in a timely fashion, this meeting should occur approximately a year in advance of the proposed study program.
Effective planning for and promoting of a study abroad program takes time. It is strongly recommended that the Program Director begin planning a year in advance of the intended departure date. It is understood that budgets and itineraries may be subject to change.
The planning of a study abroad program begins with the development of a proposal or description of the program. First-time Program Directors should consult with the Study Abroad Office in the development of the proposal. All proposals must include the following information:
- Cover sheet with appropriate signatures and cost codes (see appendix)
- Academic program description
- academic courses which will be part of this program; identify course pre-requisites, if any
- specific learning outcomes which students are expected to demonstrate at the completion of the program; describe scheduled activities which will assist students in achieving these learning outcomes
- how students will be evaluated to determine if they have achieved the learning outcomes identified above; describe the criteria to be used in assigning course grades
- faculty who will teach each course listed above and describe their academic qualifications to teach these courses
- Program Director and any other trip leaders or co-leaders; exclusive of the Program Director, describe the trip leader/co-leader responsibilities and their qualifications to fulfill these supervisory responsibilities
- selection criteria to be used with trip participants, including age, educational background, physical fitness and/or required medical exam, or other categories necessary for the successful completion of the program; identify the minimum and maximum acceptable size of the group
- Overall program details
- program itinerary/calendar (dates for pre-departure orientation, departure, in-country travel, return, de-briefing session, etc)
- travel arrangements, including flight numbers to/from and in-country, if available
NOTE: If private vehicles are used to transport study abroad participants in-country, the drivers must be WSU faculty, staff or students, carry current liability insurance, and meet other University requirements as noted in PPM 5-31.
- non-academic activities (not part of the academic courses)
- housing & food arrangements for each in-country location
- marketing and promotion plans (provide sample materials, if possible)
- risk management issues (health, safety, liability) which may be unique to the area(s) being visited; describe how these issues will be effectively addressed in the design of the program
- emergency management plan, including telephone/e-mail contact information, to be used with problems which may arise
- estimated budget which identifies all trip revenue and expenses with a projected per capita cost (see appendix for a budget worksheet); indicate if the program director and other trip leaders/co-leaders will have travel expenses paid and/or will receive salary
- fee payment schedule, including date of required first deposit and remaining payment deadlines
- Overall program evaluation form to be used to assess overall program effectiveness (see appendix)
- Conflict of Interest Disclaimer form signed by the program director (see appendix)
Once the proposal has been developed, the Program Director should route it to the individuals noted on the cover sheet for their review, approval and signatures. This should be done approximately nine months before the anticipated date of departure and before the program is advertised or participants are registered. The sponsoring academic department and college dean (and the Program Director's home department and/or dean if the sponsoring and home departments are different) have institutional responsibility for the program. By their signatures and identification of a cost code, they are responsible for covering deficits or disbursing residues that result from these programs. Copies of the proposal and cover sheet, along with the program evaluation form and the signed Conflict of Interest Disclaimer form, should be provided to all signing parties.
The Program Director should review all details of the proposed study abroad program (academic courses, trip personnel, program logistics, evaluation form, etc) with the Study Abroad Office personnel. Of particular importance to the Study Abroad Office is the budget worksheet for the program (see appendix).
The Program Director, in consultation with the Study Abroad Office, must create a budget that is adequate to support the program. An overhead/indirect cost fee of $200 per capita must be included to cover risk management, financial management and course registration/tuition expenses incurred by the Study Abroad Office in assisting with study abroad programs. The Study Abroad Office will charge a less per capita fee for those participants who do not register for academic credit. If a salary is paid to the Program Director and/or other trip leaders or co-leaders, this compensation must be paid through the WSU payroll system and include benefits. Salary is defined as a daily wage to compensate for time spent on the trip. All program costs must be factored into the per capita program fee.
All financial matters of WSU-sponsored study abroad programs must comply with state and institutional guidelines. This includes procurement of and payment for travel services and accommodations, Program Director expenses and compensation, payment of tuition to WSU or to institutions domestic or abroad, and a variety of unique expenses that may be incurred because of the particular nature of the program. Because WSU fiscal procedures are not designed solely for study abroad programs, it can become a real challenge to keep records clear and understandable for auditors who may not be familiar with what the Program Director is doing. Program Directors must keep all receipts for expenses incurred during the trip to accurately reconcile the program budget at the completion of the trip.
Most study abroad program expenses will be paid for with a WSU purchasing card (P-card). The Study Abroad Office will assist the Program Director with completing the P-card application form and will schedule a training session for the Program Director on the P-card use with the Purchasing Department.
The Study Abroad Office may authorize a travel advance request from the Program Director when a P-card cannot be used when traveling abroad. This travel advance may cover individual expenses, group costs, and emergency/contingency funds. NOTE: a strict interpretation of IRS reporting requirements reveals that funds provided in advance to a Program Director for study abroad expenses MUST be reported as personal income unless final reconciliation reports are filed within 60 days of the date of program completion. Needless to say, negligence in filing with the IRS could be catastrophic to a Program Director's personal tax obligations.
All courses included in the study abroad program must be identified in the initial program proposal, and must be approved by the sponsoring academic department or program. Approval for new courses must follow existing WSU curriculum policies and procedures.
The Study Abroad Office will enter the courses in the student record system and all trip participants must register for the courses through the Study Abroad Office. Non-WSU students who wish to have course credit transferred to their home institutions must follow the required process for admission to WSU prior to registering for the courses.
There is an increasing emphasis on issues of institutional liability for the general health and welfare of participants in institutionally-sponsored study abroad programs. This may be the case because the concept of "In Loco Parentis" applies even more strongly when individuals are abroad in non-native settings and/or separated from their support networks. Although the courts focus on whether or not institutional negligence is apparent, they tend to support the fact that participants, for the most part, are adults and therefore responsible for their own actions.
A set of "good practices" for promoting health and safety in study abroad programs is available at http://www.oldsite.nafsa.org/safetyabroad/. One of the keys to a successful study abroad program is to follow prudent risk management procedures, including requiring all participants to:
- have adequate accident insurance (an international ID card is strongly recommended)
- have adequate health insurance (a medical exam clearance may be required for some programs)
- sign a Statement of Understanding/Release
- follow travel safety guidelines
- attend a pre-departure orientation session
Accident insurance is required for all participants. WSU employees and students are automatically covered by virtue of their being employed at or by paying tuition to WSU; existing employees and students are considered Class I insured. Class II insured participants (non-WSU employees or students) must provide proof that they have purchased WSU accident insurance through the WSU Office of Public Safety before being allowed to participate. The Study Abroad Office will maintain records of trip dates, destinations and lists of all Class I and II participants, and will furnish the WSU Office of Public Safety with this information at least two weeks prior to the trip departure to be forwarded to WSU's insurer.
The accident insurance available through WSU only provides coverage for activities undertaken during the study abroad program (including travel to or from the destination), while participants are actually in the care, custody and control of the WSU Program Director; see http://www.weber.edu/risk/fieldtrip.asp This policy does not provide 24 hour a day coverage, however this can be arranged for an additional premium paid through the WSU Office of Public Safety. Supplemental accident insurance coverage, as well as other travel abroad assistance, may be also obtained by purchasing an international ID card. The Study Abroad Office will assist the Program Director in making a decision on the need for ID cards for the trip participants.
Key aspects of the WSU insurance plan include:
- medical coverage is provided only for illness or death due to accidents (alcohol or drug-related accidents are not covered)
- there is a required payment of $100 deductible for a medical claim
- the maximum limits are $10,000 medical and $25,000 accidental death or dismemberment; if additional coverage is desirable beyond these limits, participants must arrange this through their private insurance carriers
the insurance is a reimbursement type policy which requires the participant to:
- pay for any medical services at the time they are provided
- request and complete the necessary claim forms from the WSU Office of Public Safety upon return from the study program
- submit the forms to WSU's insurance carrier along with the required medical receipts
In addition to adequate health insurance coverage, some study abroad programs may require clearance from a physician in order for participants to complete scheduled trip activities. The Program Director determines whether physician clearance is required.
The appendix includes the Statement of Understanding/Release which must be signed by all participants (and their guardians if the participants are less than 18 years of age) prior to departure. These forms also include emergency contact telephone numbers for all trip participants. The Study Abroad Office will take primary responsibility for ensuring that this has been done and that signed forms are on file for each trip participant.
International travel has always had its joys and its hazards. Terrorist acts have usually been directed at government officials and business people representing large US firms, but all Americans are at risk while abroad. Regardless of how safe an international location seems to be, it is important that the Program Director has an emergency management plan in place prior to the trip departure.
The first step in developing an emergency management plan is to become knowledgeable of the risks associated with travel to particular areas of the world. The State Department regularly issues warnings for specific areas (http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html). The Study Abroad Office will assist the Program Director in monitoring conditions prior to departure and in making any needed changes in the itinerary. In addition, the nonprofit ASIRT (the Association for Safe International Road Travel) promotes road travel safety through education and advocacy. Its staff of 50 statisticians, lawyers and physicians around the world work pro bono to compile yearly updated road travel reports on over 60 countries that are available to members. Contact ASIRT, 5413 West Cedar Lane, Suite 103 C, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone 1-301-983-5252; web site http://www.asirt.org
NOTE: The right is reserved by WSU, in its sole discretion, to cancel the study abroad program or any aspect thereof prior to departure, if WSU determines or believes that any person is or will be in danger if the program occurs.
Second, an emergency management plan also includes provisions for health care. The Program Director should become familiar with the health care delivery systems found in the various trip locations. Prior to departure, identify what kind of health facilities exist, their locations, their hours of operation, their methods of payment, and whether or not they will treat foreigners.
Third, an emergency management plan checklist should be developed to include the following steps in case of accident or emergency:
- promptly report to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to the WSU University Police (801/626-6460) any accident or other incident which, in the course of a domestic/international study program, causes physical injury to participants or other person(s)
- evaluate the real danger to the trip participants by considering such factors:
- the event's impact on the availability of food, water, and medical supplies
- the presence of military or emergency personnel
- the feasibility of continuing the trip or its activities
- advice of the nearest US embassy or consulate
- relay the above-listed information to the Study Abroad Office; this office will consult with appropriate WSU administrators to decide what initial and long-term strategies are needed to deal with the emergency
- implement appropriate responses based on the on-site situation and the WSU responses, including evacuation procedures, if necessary
In conjunction with the Study Abroad Office, the Program Director must conduct an orientation session for the participants approximately one month prior to departure and provide information on:
- academic course requirements and procedures
- travel details
- fee payment schedule
- health and safety concerns
- emergency management plan
- Statement of Understanding/Release
- other issues specific to the proposed trip
During this orientation session, it is important to keep the institutional responsibility to a minimum. Participants should be informed when and where the institution's responsibility ends, and what aspects of their study abroad experience are beyond the institution's control. Program Directors must not promise "the moon" because the more responsibility they accept, the more liable they become. The Program Director should confirm that all participants have read and signed the Statement of Understanding/Release.
Participants should be told applicable codes of conduct and the consequences of noncompliance. "Culturegrams" provide helpful information for more than 160 areas of the world. Besides historical and political background, each four-page report also explains country-specific customs, courtesies and lifestyles that differ from those in the United States. To order, call 1-800-528-6279; fax 1-801-378-5882; web site http://www.culturegrams.com/individual.htm
Good preventive health care prior to departure is probably the most important thing participants can do to assure a successful study abroad experience. The exact health topics which are discussed in a pre-departure orientation may vary depending on the health issues and health resources of the country being visited. Many resources are available to provide information on specific topics. The WSU Student Health Center can provide information not only on immunizations but also how to respond to participants' simple health care needs such as upset stomachs, cold and flu symptoms and just plain homesickness. Other good sources of information include faculty and students who have traveled abroad, country guidebooks, public health hotlines such as local and state health departments, and the Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/. At a minimum, a pre-departure orientation should cover the following health topics:
- basic hygiene
- water and food issues
- alcohol and drugs (legal and illegal)
- personal responsibility and health status
- existing conditions, special care needed
- prescriptions, eye wear, etc.
- sexuality and relationships
- accident and injury prevention
- health care availability abroad
- psychological issues
- common sense
WSU STUDY ABROAD - PROGRAM DIRECTOR MANUAL