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Program Building

Program Development

Study abroad program administrators should carefully consider health and safety issues when developing a new program. This ranges from specific concerns such as housing, transportation, and excursion programming to the effectiveness of all aspects of the study abroad program. NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad for Advisers and Administrators, Second Edition outlines some of these areas in the following way:
  • Establishing curricular, credit, and grading correspondences between disparate systems
  • Entering into contractual arrangements with foreign universities, other institutions, and governments following the correct protocol
  • Setting admissions standards and defining the process
  • Securing housing, office space, classroom space, study space, library resources, and so forth
  • Helping with passport and visa procurement
  • Dealing with student health, safety, and social issues
  • Setting budgets, handling finances, etc.
  • Hiring faculty and staff

In addition, it may also be helpful for administrators to consider the above information from a student’s perspective. To help students gain further insight on aspects of study abroad programs, particularly those aspects associated with health and safety concerns, the Center for Global Education developed an online student study abroad handbook.
Study abroad administrators should attempt to ensure that students are being educated about all issues relevant to their respective programs during advisement in one-to-one visits, general and small group meetings. Students may understand how to support their needs in the United States, but a foreign country typically offers new challenges (health and safety, language, medical support, housing, etc.) According to Foundations of International Education: Education Abroad Advising, NAFSA's Professional Development Program, the study abroad administrator or advisor acting as a guide to students should:
  • Be knowledgeable about all programs
  • Understand the process of program evaluation
  • Assist in both the selection and application process
  • Prepare students for the challenge of living abroad and re-entering U.S. society
  • Know where to get answers to 3 and 4
(NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad for Advisers and Administrators, Third Edition, page 173)

As advising can be a team effort, a student's parents can be a terrific asset. Whenever possible, administrators should collaborate with parents in order to help disseminate health and safety information about students looking to study abroad. For more, see the article "Advice for Parents" by William Hoffa of Academic Consultants International.
Orientation programs are typically divided into pre-departure and on-site sessions. Both are designed to inform students about the realities of their study abroad program and the country where they will be studying and to help them more quickly adjust to culture abroad. Orientation could include health and safety issues and information about the abilities and limitations of program support (who will pay for medical care? how does insurance work? etc.). NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad for Advisers and Administrators (p. 293) suggests that the following areas could be included in an orientation:
  • Provide essential practical information
  • Motivate students to learn more about the host culture as well as about themselves as Americans, prior to departure. Students could learn what differences and difficulties to expect and discuss ways to deal with them in a positive and constructive manner
  • Help students develop cross-cultural sensitivity and become familiar with the process of cross-cultural adaptation
  • Help students gain a better comprehension of world issues and examine their roles as global citizens
  • Assist students in investigating their academic, personal, and professional objectives abroad and how these goals might fit into their long-term objectives

According to NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad for Advisers and Administrators, minimally, orientations should include past participants, international students, and other resource people who have spent time in the region, and will include a discussion of health, safety, and security issues, how to handle emergencies, and basic information on academics and appropriate cultural behavior (Campus Advising, Whole-World Study, NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad for Advisers and Administrators, Third Edition, 239).

While pre-departure and on-site orientations have virtually become standards in the field, re-orientations given to students upon return to the United States are sparse. The process of re-entry and the effects of reverse culture shock must not be ignored. Bruce La Brack offers advice on these issues in his articles entitled: “The Missing Linkage: The Process of Integrating Orientation and Reentry” and “The Evolution Continues: The UOP Cross-Cultural Training Courses”.
Center for Global Education Home:
SAFETI Clearinghouse:
Student Study Abroad Handbooks: Online Courses for Study Abroad:
The Center for Global Education (UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies) promotes international education to foster cross-cultural awareness, cooperation, and understanding. Living and working effectively in a global society requires learning from an international perspective.
We promote this type of learning by collaborating with colleges, universities, and other organizations around the world. Visit to view a vast array of international education resources for educators, students, and parents.