For the past several years Augusta University has witnessed enthusiastic growth in its Study Abroad and Away programs.
The zeal students have shown for educational travel is due largely to the Faculty who invest their time, talent and expertise to bring new dimensions to subjects that traditionally have been taught in the classroom.
Since the inception of Study Abroad, faculty have returned from all around the world full of practical advice of what worked and, just as importantly, what didn't. It is from these conversations that we developed the tools for successful programs.
In addition, the state of Georgia has steadfastly informed the Study Abroad Office of new administrative, legal and risk management concerns as they have emerged. Designed to keep things simple for faculty interested in leading a Study Abroad or Away program, this information will help faculty stay in compliance with rules and regulations as they plan their Study Abroad programs, without losing sleep.
Take time to explore. The reference guide has been updated, and templates have been created to help you develop your program proposals and program budgets.
Click this BOX Link to access a recording of a webinar from Fall 2022 describing best practices in developing a Custom Faculty-led Study Abroad/Away program.
SCROLL THROUGH OUR FACULTY-LED PROGRAM 101 GUIDE
New Program Proposals are due the 3rd Friday in March of the preceding year.
Study Abroad Office
Instructors and staff members may request a Study Abroad Office student employee/ambassador to share our programs & support resources with your students. Presentations can be tailored for a classroom, student org, office, or other AU student groups.
If interested, please fill out the Presentation Request Form. A member of our staff team will contact you shortly after to schedule a visit!
Please email all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for New Program Proposal Forms is the 3rd Friday in March (next cycle: 3/17/23).
Please use the 2023 Study Abroad/Away Budget Template as part of your Program Proposal due by the 3rd Friday in March.
Please use the Course Contact Hours Form as part of your Study Abroad/Away Program Proposal due by the 3rd Friday in March.
SAO recommends that you review the list of questions PRIOR to starting the official Qualtrics form to submit your program proposal. Then, you can simply copy/paste information into the survey.
SAO recommends that you review the list of questions PRIOR to starting the official Qualtrics form to submit your program proposal. Then, you can simply copy/paste information into the survey.
Please complete the following form for a program that has successfully been approved since 2018 that you plan to keep fundamentally the same as the last time it operated. This is due by June 1st for potential travel the following year.
All Program Directors should complete the Participant Information Form at least 1 month before the travel occurs.
The Study Abroad Office requires one faculty director per program to submit this form at least 1 month before travel.
Please complete the following form for your group program.
Please complete the risk assessment for your program via Qualtrics at least 1 month before departure.
Please complete this report if an incident happens during your program abroad or away. This will be used to create a CARE Report. Please return a copy as soon as possible.
Please complete this report if an issue occurs that you want to document while on your program abroad or away. This is used for less serious matters NOT requiring additional CARE Report assistance.
The Study Abroad Faculty Handbook was created specifically for our study abroad and study away faculty. Not only does it contain Study Abroad policies and procedures, but also methods of recruiting students, how to take care of situations abroad, how to prepare your proposal, and how to handle financial matters, for example.
We encourage all faculty who are considering developing a proposal to looking through the handbook in additional to looking over the proposal to understand the overall process and also figure out what questions you may have.
Phase One: Introduction
The Program Director’s responsibilities are divided between those that must be done prior to the program, during travel and post program. The Program Director agrees to these responsibilities when they sign the official Program Proposal.
Prior to the Program
After the Program
Phase Two: Developing a Program
Note: You are encouraged to read the Study Abroad website in full before you begin to develop your proposal: https://www.augusta.edu/studyabroad/faculty.php
Developing a Study Abroad/Away program is a collaborative process. You should first start in your department by meeting with your department chair and other professors who may want to be involved, are already involved, or who have been involved in a study abroad/away program in the past. It can help you understand what programs are already offered and what programs have done well in the past. Do this early on, preferably in the 1st quarter of the calendar year. Don’t underestimate the need for advanced planning, and give yourself adequate time, whether you are new to study abroad/away or study abroad/away veteran submitting a proposal for a recurring program. The SAO recommends planning 12-18 months in advance of the departure date to ensure a quality program and that all deadlines are met.
For all new study abroad/away programs, the online proposal is due the 3rd Friday in March the year prior via Qualtrics form. All recurring programs must submit a shorter Authorization Form by June 1st the year prior via Qualtrics to be considered for the following academic year recruiting cycle.
During your development process, check with your chair to see how your department’s approval process works, as you cannot submit your proposal before it is approved by your department. Each department has a unique, possibly extensive, approval process, so be sure to calculate this into your proposal timeline.
All programs must go through a multi-level approval process beyond your department and must be in compliance with the Office of International Education (OIE) of the University System of Georgia. The Director of Study Abroad will assist if you have any questions and help you develop a program that is academically sound, appealing to students, affordable, and follows the correct policies and procedures. The Director may also help ensure a successful program by providing insight into what kinds of programs have worked in the past and what have not. By working collaboratively with your department and the SAO during the development process, you are much more likely to have your program approved.
Timeline for New & Recurring Programs
NOTE: A Proposal Form is required only for new study abroad/away programs to be approved by the program director’s department, ISAC, and SAO. For recurring programs, there is a more streamlined Authorization process to be completed by June 1 every year.
Accompanying Family Members & Guest Policy
In accordance with the University System of Georgia’s Office of International Education’s policy (Section X: Application Process, Part D), Augusta University does not permit travel of faculty/staff or student accompanying family members and/or guests. The only persons attending a study abroad or away program are either: Students who are registered for the course, or faculty/staff who are leading the travel as Program Directors and/or chaperones. Community members and others may participate only as admitted AU students registered for academic credit appropriate to the program.
This policy is in effort to be more transparent to student participants and enforce the academic integrity of study abroad/away as an educational experience – otherwise, it may be misconstrued as a vacation or cause disruption if participants attempt to bring guests. Faculty/staff directors must remember that their first priority is to be available to their students in any potential emergency (or perceived emergency) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the duration of the program.
If you are interested in having guests join you in your travel, such an arrangement only works when companions join the faculty/staff member either prior to the students arriving or at the conclusion of the program. That said, at least 1 program director is expected to travel with the group. SAO can only justify travel expenses up to the amount listed in the budget for the rest of the group. Anything over that expense would need to be paid for out of the faculty/staff’s pocket. All family members and guests who travel pre/post-program are not eligible to join the CISI Health Insurance or other benefits reserved for study abroad participants. Accompanying family members or companions, if not enrolled as full participants in the program, are not considered in any way to be affiliated with the program or representatives of AU.
Phase Three: Financial Matters
Preparing Your Budget
Important! Faculty/staff cannot sign contracts on behalf of the Study Abroad Office or AU. Do not do it! Instead, please send contracts to the SAO to obtain the proper approvals. Please allow 2-4 weeks for the SAO to process all requests for signatures or payments. Please also remember to not make any written or verbal agreements with a vendor on services that have not been approved by the SAO.
Preparing your Budget
A well-thought-out and comprehensive budget is one of the main pillars of a sound (and approved) program. As you plan your study abroad/away program, think through all the expenses you are likely to incur to avoid having cost overruns and “emergencies” that could have been foreseen. It is important to consider now, as you prepare your budget, that in the months ahead you will submit Requests for Payments, and each of those tie to a line item in your budget. A few tips are presented here for your consideration as you begin to develop you budget. Our goal is to help you create a realistic financial plan for your study abroad or away program.
The SAO has developed a specific template which must be followed as part of either the Proposal or Authorization process for study abroad/away programs. See the SAO website for full details and Excel. Please note: there are certain cells which are “locked” for editing like the SAO marketing budget, CISI insurance for study abroad programs, and buffer for emergency funds.
The SAO office will use the budget you prepared during the program proposal (new) or authorization (recurring) process to come up with the advertised price. Over the summer months, faculty/staff members will work the SAO office to secure reservations and final quotes in order to update the budget with the most accurate numbers. Faculty/staff must work over the summer to help secure any quotes needed to be able to establish this price before the fall semester. Once this has been done, the SAO office will establish the final advertise price for the students by the beginning of the fall semester in August.
How to Prepare a Proposal for Using an Unanticipated Surplus
Sometimes, despite the best planning, you may find yourself in a situation where you have realized savings while on the program, and have an unanticipated surplus that realistically is too large to justify (more than $100/ student). In these circumstances, we suggest that you prepare a proposal on how to use these funds and submit it to the director of the SAO once it has been determined there is a surplus in the budget. For example, some Program Directors may suggest (to the delight of their students) an additional excursion. Draft a short proposal explaining the circumstance and how you would like to use the funds. Maybe there is a museum that the students would like to visit, a concert, a program to an unplanned destination, etc. You might also consider buying photo books that participants submit pictures to include or add additional meals for the group. The expenditure must be for the benefit of the students. This can include purchases for future program benefits as well.
Excess funds are not to be used to reimburse expenses of the Program Director, items purchased for the Program Director only, increased per diems, or the like. They cannot be used to pay for unbudgeted expenses of the Program Director. Remember: All expenditures must be in the original budget plan. If there are remaining funds in a program account equaling $100 or less per student, that money will be transferred to the general fund for SA emergencies and deposits for future programs in accordance with Board of Regent guidelines.
Payment of Expenses
Traveling in a foreign country with cash and credit cards presents risk that we seek to minimize for you. Carrying large sums of cash makes you a target for pickpocketing, and we suggest that you avoid paying in cash whenever there is a reasonable alternative. However, credit cards are also a risk, specifically for identity theft. Therefore, we highly recommend prepaying when possible. If you have not prepaid an expense, you will need to weigh the associated risks of paying with cash versus paying by credit card. Some common-sense questions to ask yourself:
Prepayment of Expenses
You are encouraged to prepay as many expenses as possible before you embark on your program either through the SAO or on your own to be reimbursed after the travel concludes. Airfare, hotel, ground transportation and even some excursions can be prepaid.
There are several advantages to prepaying:
While faculty/staff members are not allowed to finalize contractual arrangements for the SAO or AU, you are encouraged to obtain quotes early on so that your budget estimates for major expenses are realistic. When possible, lock in those rates well ahead of time as approved by SAO and AU’s Purchasing departments.
Once your study abroad/away program has been approved by your department and you have received the official approval of your program from the SAO director, then it is time to request prepayments. For example, some airlines will let you book flights as far as 10-11 months out. Reserve group flights just as soon as tickets become available. However, understand if the program falls below 10 participants, you will lose the original quoted group rate and individual tickets would need to be purchased. Deviations for flights are usually limited to 1 per group, so program directors would have priority before considering student requests. Generally, a $100 per seat deposit will secure a seat. Remember that all study abroad/away expenditures must go through the SAO for approval and processing. You will also need to have an AU Travel Authorization signed and approved on file prior to paying anything on behalf of the program. Again, you must be able to tie the expenditure to a line item in your budget (see p. 12).
If you cannot prepay an expense, you can request a small cash advance (i.e., for an excursion). You would need to review the program budget linked in Box and then list whatever is shown as “petty cash request” in the payment type column. The SAO will review all requests thoroughly so they match your program budget. However, you must be able to justify the need for a petty cash fund, and the expense must already be in a line item in your budget. The form to request a petty cash fund is available through the SAO. The cash advance must be reconciled within 14 days of your return from your program.
Some programs may not need to request a cash advance if vendors are providing all services themselves (i.e., meals, accommodation, etc.).
Remember to submit all receipts to the SAO showing how the petty cash funds were expensed. Although, not required receipts under $25USD are still highly recommended for state auditing and recording purposes. The SAO can help you with the reconciliation if need be. Do not delay in asking for help, should you need it!
Loss of Funds
Please note that you are responsible for loss of petty cash funds. Factor this in when you consider how you are going to pay for expenses. Should funds be lost, immediately contact the SAO and AU Public Safety to file a police report within 24 hours of recognizing the funds have been lost/misplaced. You will also likely need to file a police report locally.
All study abroad/away programs must be able to withstand the scrutiny of the state auditor. Consequently, you are required to obtain receipts for all reimbursable expenditures that are made while you are abroad/away. Will the state auditor be able to read that receipt written in Japanese? Did you document a receipt of anything over $25 USD? Make sure you obtain a receipt that can be readily understood. If necessary, have the invoice translated. Although receipts under $25USD are not required, it is highly recommended to provide a receipt for every purchase so that the reconciliation process is easy. What about tipping in cash? That may not be included in a dinner receipt or may not include a receipt at all. This is another good reason to prepay whenever possible. The SAO will provide blank template receipt forms if you need to utilize them.
Emergency Reserve Funds
While you are strongly encouraged to think through your budget enough to cover as many situations as possible, it is realistic to understand that not every situation can be anticipated, especially when you are traveling abroad or away. Things happen unexpectedly and past experience has taught us the value of emergency reserve funds. A reasonable emergency reserve budget will cover your unplanned expenses, between 7-10% on average. Do not overlook this important part of your budget.
Budget & Salary Considerations
Study Abroad budgets do not allow for the payment of extra salary for teaching abroad or away. Your salary will continue to be paid from state funds, as it normally is paid through your department.
The Dean’s Office determines the summer pay of Study Abroad or Away Program Directors, taking into consideration information provided by the Study Abroad Office. There is an indirect relationship between your summer pay and your recruitment efforts. Here’s how it works:
Faculty/Staff Travel Expenses
Close Out of Study Abroad Program Accounts
All Study Abroad/Away program accounts must be fully reconciled and closed out within 60 days after the program. In accordance with Board of Regents guidelines, account balances must be transferred to the Study Abroad general account, to be used for future program deposits. Knowing this, please be sure to submit all reimbursable program expenses within two weeks of your return.
Program Deposits, Final Payments, Refunds & Transfers
The nature of college students is that they are prone to changing their minds. Remember this as you recruit your students. When your students submit their program applications and deposits, be certain they are aware of our policies so that misunderstandings can be avoided. Students pay a $200 deposit to sign up for a study abroad/away program. If they decide they can no longer participate any time before the 1st payment deadline, they can receive $100 of the deposit back. If they need to withdraw for any reason after the payment deadline then the $200 is non-refundable. Any expenses that have already been paid on behalf of the program will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but the SAO will try to return any recoverable costs if possible. If a student needs to return home for any reason after the program has departed Augusta, GA, all program payments are non-refundable. Note that an electronic signature document acknowledging the refund and withdrawal policy is included in the application that the student signs. As a courtesy to the student, point this out to them, because not everyone reads what they sign during the excitement of signing up for what often is their first abroad or away program!
Program and Application Deadlines
Both the deposit and application deadline are set by the SAO on a schedule depending on when the program will travel or by set requirements from vendors. This allows time for teaching schedules to be adjusted in the event that your program does not materialize. It also allows for recruitment in the fall semester and more focus on final payment, orientation, and other responsibilities in the spring semester. Should a program not be filled by this deadline, the Director of Study Abroad may work with you to extend this deadline to give you time to fill any remaining spots.
Program Deposit Policy for Students
Students must put down a deposit to be officially added to a full program’s waitlist. The student’s Terra Dotta “status” will be listed as “Waitlist.” For those on a waitlist, if a spot does not open up OR they are no longer able to go on the program, their deposit will be refunded in early March. No exceptions can be made.
Program Final Payment Policy
Final payments by students must be made a minimum of 90 days before travel, and as far ahead as 120 days. This allows time for invoices to be paid without a rush and for funds to be transferred for faculty/staff travel. Remember that the Business Office has approximately 10 to 12 working days to process any payment once the SAO submits the request.
This also allows time for airfare and ground transportation arrangements to be altered if there are more students than anticipated or to reduce the number of air tickets and ground arrangements without penalty. Please be mindful that it is difficult to add additional tickets to airfare after the initial quote is held and the deposit is paid. It is significantly easier and more cost-effective to reduce the number of seats needed on a flight instead. Payment deadlines should never be later than the penalty date to lose money on travel – the SAO will help schedule the deadline dates.
Program Refund Policy for Students
Program Transfer Policy
Phase Four: Recruiting Students
It is the responsibility of the Program Director and other program faculty/staff to recruit students for their program. A minimum number of students is needed to make the program financially feasible and must be a primary focus from the start. Promotional efforts for your program should highlight the academic quality, cultural opportunities, and educational benefits for students. While the SAO will help support your marketing plan, the primary responsibility for recruitment rests with the faculty/staff.
SAO Recruitment Workshop for Program Directors
This is a mandatory session which all faculty/staff leading programs must attend annually. The workshop is usually held in the fall early in the semester to help cover relevant changes to SAO policies, give reminders on procedures, and discuss general strategies to engage students. Save-the-date information is shared over the summer usually 4-6 weeks before the session. Please make every effort to attend either virtually or in-person.
SAO Study Abroad/Away Fair(s)
All approved programs are expected to have a presence at SAO’s study abroad/away fairs. These events usually take place mid-September from 11 am - 2 pm on a weekday. The SAO will coordinate a fair on Summerville and Health Sciences campuses (invite only for specific majors) and virtual fairs are also possible. Save-the-date information is shared over the summer usually 4-6 weeks before the events. You are encouraged to creatively decorate your table for the events. Feel free to bring snacks, photos from past programs, souvenirs, etc. The SAO will provide a generic table sign, printed program flyers, and an interest list to sign up. The SAO also tries to coordinate lunch for the fairs if you can attend. If your schedule doesn’t permit, consider recruiting student alumni to volunteer their time instead.
Additional Recruiting Events
The SAO helps to coordinate the annual International Education Week events held in October. Usually toward the end of the week there is an Intercultural Festival on both Summerville and Health Science campuses. The SAO often tries to invite program directors to attend as another opportunity to engage a wide student audience. The events are held during the lunch hour and free food is given to participants. If your schedule doesn’t permit, consider recruiting student alumni to volunteer their time instead.
Talk to Individual Students
Print and Virtual Marketing
Student Eligibility for Study Abroad/Away Programs
Terra Dotta: SAO’s Study Abroad/Away Online Portal
The SAO has utilized an online portal system through the Terra Dotta software for several years which has eliminated the need for paper applications. This also allows for fully online payment options – the SAO no longer accepts in-person payments. Instead, credit cards or web checks can be processed faster through the web portal.
All program directors will be given access to Terra Dotta’s online portal for their particular programs at the beginning of the fall semester. You can access the system using your regular AU-credentials. Once logged in, you will see all “pending” (began an application but not finished and/or paid deposit), “accepted” (completed the online application and paid deposit), and “committed” applicants (optional response but students can select once re-log into application to complete all post-decision requirements).
The SAO will send monthly enrollment reports to all program directors so it isn’t necessary for you to login to the portal to review applications regularly. The SAO will also CC you on any acceptance emails going out to students who have completed the sign-up process.
The primary reason program directors will login to the portal is to complete the faculty/staff pre-travel paperwork. This includes any relevant emergency contacts, medical information, CISI health insurance (abroad only), and passport/driver’s license. If you need training or have additional questions, please email email@example.com for assistance.
Students with Disabilities on Study Abroad/Away Programs
Just as cultures differ from country to country, so do the perceptions of disability and accessible accommodations. Some countries may have a wide range of services for students with disabilities; others may rely on peer or family support or have limited disability accommodations available. The most important qualities for any Study Abroad/Away participant are flexibility and an open mind.
Academic accommodation requests should be made through Testing & Disability Services directly. Augusta University is obligated to make our Study Abroad/Away Programs accessible unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the Programs or create an undue financial burden. For example, relocating a Study Abroad/Away Program in order to make it more physically accessible would constitute a fundamental alteration.
If a student indicates they need additional accommodations for the program, notify the SAO immediately so the planning process can begin with Testing & Disability Services. Any student who has a legitimate accommodation need or documented disability will be assisted to ensure a successful and equitable experience for all involved. In the event that accommodations cannot be arranged given the nature of the program, the SAO will work to assist the student(s) in finding an alternative to meet their personal and academic goals.
Points to Remember
Phase Five: Prior to Departure
Once a student has put down a deposit, the SAO will begin helping students prepare for their program abroad or away. This section details all that the Study Abroad Office does to help with this process.
Student Advising Appointments Upon Request
While information is given in the student’s online application, some require additional guidance. Advising appointments (virtual or in-person) can greatly benefit first-time travelers, including students travelling for the first time as an adult, and can be scheduled with SAO staff upon request. Critical information is shared that will help guide them on a variety of travel related concerns, including:
Study Abroad/Away Orientation
Orientation has two sections: the SAO has a general orientation scheduled for a specific day/time. Program Directors are encouraged to schedule their own program-specific pre-departure orientation separately.
SAO General Pre-departure Orientation
SAO pre‐departure orientations are designed to increase student preparedness and help to reduce institutional liability. The SAO orientation is mandatory for this reason. Faculty/staff members are welcome and encouraged to attend if possible. The dates are shared with students upon acceptance into the program with frequent reminders given. The SAO Pre-departure Orientation takes approximately 2 hours and cover the following general content areas.
The following forms are included in the Pre-Departure Orientation folders provided by the SAO:
Individual Program Orientation Meeting
The Study Abroad/Away professors or Program Director conducts the Program Orientation. Your orientation session should set the tone for the program, clarify expectations and provide detailed information to students that will help avoid unpleasant surprises when you arrive at the destination.
This session should emphasize the expectations for a successful program and leave your students well prepared to embark on what could be their first travel internationally or outside of Georgia. The SAO has template slides you can utilize in building your program-specific orientation. The Program Orientation may occur during a class time at the beginning of the semester or before the term begins as a separate orientation from the general SAO Pre-Departure Orientation.
The Individual Program Orientation should cover the following:
Pre-Program Director Meeting
As mentioned in the timeline in Phase Two, you will meet with the Director of Study Abroad and possibly the Study Abroad Office Coordinator 2 weeks before your program’s departure date, to review the following:
Phase Six: On-Site Program Management
Augusta University Travel Advisory Policies
To view current United States Department of State Travel Advisories, visit their website at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html
In general, travel to countries under a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4, or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Level 3, is not allowed for Undergraduate Students on Augusta University Programs.
However, exemptions to the policy may be granted for travel to Level 3 Travel Advisory countries and areas for graduate students via formal petition. Individual undergraduate students cannot petition for an exemption unless the destination country is at a Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 due to COVID-19. Further information on the formal petition can be found in the petition packet.
In certain circumstances, the Study Abroad Office may review Programs and allow travel as follows:
Travel to Areas with COVID-19 Warnings Only
Travel may be allowed in special circumstances where the country/area is currently under a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 due only to COVID-19 or where a country/area is under a CDC COVID-19 Warning Level 3 or 4. In order for travel to be approved in these circumstances, the following procedures must be followed:
Undergraduate student travel as part of any AU recommended, faculty-led, or facilitated activity may only be approved after a mandatory review process by SAO and the associated ERT and with the approval of the Vice Provost of Instruction, in consultation with the college dean or designee.
This mandatory review process may include, but is not limited to, submission of the Pre-Travel Risk Assessment describing the risk mitigation plan to the Study Abroad Office, consultation with the On-Call Global Security Specialist, and a meeting with the University Emergency Response Team.
Travel When a CDC or State Department Warning Level is Elevated to a Level 3 or 4
In the event that the travel warning for an existing program is elevated to State Department Level 3 or 4 or a CDC Warning Level 3, either before departure or during the program, established study abroad programs will be reviewed according to national trends at peer and aspirational institutions and evaluations or assessments published by discipline-specific professional organizations. On the basis of these considerations, the Emergency Response Team will make a recommendation to the Vice Provost of Instruction as to whether the program should proceed (if the program has not departed) or continue (if the program has departed) as planned. If the Team makes recommendations for further risk mitigation prior to departure or during the remainder of the program which are approved by the Vice Provost of Instruction, the Program Director must demonstrate that all recommendations have been implemented in full.
Petitions for DOS Level 3 Exemptions
Exemption from this policy regarding travel to Level 3 Travel Advisory countries or areas requires a formal petition for exemption submitted to the Study Abroad Emergency Response Team at Augusta University no later than 3 months prior to potential departure. Travel to these countries or areas will not be supported without prior approval. The purpose of this formal petition is to ensure that students and program directors are making informed and wise decisions regarding travel to Level 3 Advisory countries or areas.
Petition for Exemption - Groups
The paperwork required for this petition is in addition to the other paperwork required by the Study Abroad Office for programs. The petition process is as follows (see petition packet for full details):
Individuals Traveling to Level 3 or 4 Areas
Students who are traveling to Level 1 and 2 Advisory countries containing areas with Level 3 or 4 Advisories must agree not to travel to those high advisory level areas. Students who want to travel to Level 3 areas must go through the same formal petition process listed above.
MCG Medical Students
Any travel to Level 4 Travel Advisory areas must be done strictly on the students’ own time and not in connection with any MCG project or faculty member for credit. Travel to advisory level 3 countries will require an extra step of approval, as mentioned above.
Proposals for programs located in Level 4 Advisory countries or areas will not be approved unless the location is only ranked Level 4 due to COVID-concerns. Faculty/staff who are proposing programs located in Level 3 Advisory countries or areas must include additional explanations within the “Safety and Security” section of the proposal by the annual due date of the 3rd Friday in March. Program directors must address the specific security concerns listed within the Travel Advisory and discuss the additional safety measures necessary to keep our students safe. The proposal must also address why this program cannot take place in a country or area with a lower advisory level.
In Case of Emergency
To every extent possible, the SAO encourages pre‐planning. There needs to be a well thought out contingency plan in place for a variety of emergency situations or when discipline is needed. In some cases, the Study Abroad Office has taken the lead following our Emergency Response Plan. In other instances, the Program Director must step in, especially in time-sensitive situations. We have outlined the distinct roles of the Study Abroad Office and the Program Administrator below:
Know Before You Go
As a Program Director, your responsibilities go beyond managing the academic and travel aspects of your program. You must be prepared to handle emergencies and behavior problems as well as administer discipline appropriately. While there are usually few problems on these programs, it is important that you are prepared for situations that may arise. Please familiarize yourself with the information below before you travel.
All program directors are required to attend a Pre-Travel Risk Management Workshop hosted by the SAO 2-3 months before departure, typically in February for Spring Break programs and in March/April for Summer programs. The session takes approximately 1.5 hours and is best conducted in-person. During the workshop the Emergency Response Plan is covered in great detail, and case studies discussed to explain best practices to common scenarios. Stakeholders on campus are invited as well (Title IX, Dean of Students, Counseling, etc.)
FERPA and AU Resources
Also included in this chapter is information about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and resources at AU to which you can refer students or use yourself. Please be mindful that FERPA applies to Study Abroad/Away too! Students are asked to sign a release at orientation, but if the student does not sign this release, we must abide by FERPA laws. FERPA (regarding the privacy of student records) may conflict with the desire of parents and others to be fully briefed on both student progress and on-site emergencies.
Students participating in AU programs are given the opportunity to sign a release form which recognizes that program staff will disclose information to their families in the case of a medical emergency. If the faculty/staff director believes that certain information must be disclosed for a participant’s well-being without his/her consent, they should first contact the Study Abroad Director who will seek the advice of University Counsel. In rare cases when that is not possible, such as serious and urgent medical emergencies, the best guideline is to act in the way which will be of most benefit to the student. Remember to document all emergencies thoroughly on the Study Abroad Incident Report form and to communicate with the SAO about the situation as soon as possible.
It is inappropriate to communicate with parents about a particular student’s grades, personal relationships, or cultural adaptation without prior permission from the student.
Clery Act applies to all study abroad or away programs because Augusta University is sponsoring the travel. All crime would need to be reported to the SAO for further documentation as program directors are considered Campus Security Authorities. Program Directors can simply complete the Incident Report Form online or submitting a written record and the SAO will determine if the situation was a Clery Act violation or not. Murder, Forcible/Non-Forcible Sex Offenses, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Arson, Hate Crimes, Violence Against Women Act, Arrest, and Disciplinary Offenses can be considered depending on the specific situation.
Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
The Emergency Response Plan must be carefully followed. Take time before traveling to become familiar with it even outside of the SAO Risk Management Workshop.
Risk Management - Introduction
Study abroad/away may involve unique risks to participants and a higher level of responsibility for supervisors. Your faculty/staff folder includes information on who to call at any time day or night. When handling any crisis, DOCUMENT YOUR ACTIONS!
Within the Emergency Response Plan there are specific step-by-step “checklists” to follow related to a wide variety of crisis situations that can occur during travel.
Phase Seven: Returning to Augusta
Evaluating a program after it is completed provides the program director, faculty/staff members, and SAO director with information they need to make improvements to the program in future years. Reactions of students to accommodations, travel itineraries, program planning and other aspects of the program should be used in making changes in the program.
Evaluation also provides a base of information that can help other faculty/staff members make decisions about the design of a new program. It is essential that every program involving the award of academic credit at AU is evaluated by students upon their return to campus. The evaluations, however, will not be used in making personnel decisions about faculty/staff and are not generally supplied to department chairs or other academic administrators. Faculty/staff members may choose to share evaluations with academic leadership, but are not required to do so.
Data for program evaluations are ordinarily collected through the use of a questionnaire or other instrument that seeks information about: how well the program leader and faculty/staff prepared students for academic and travel components of the program; how well organized and managed the program was; features such as transportation, accommodations, field programs, and food; and what students consider to be the best and worst aspects of the experience. The questionnaire should elicit students’ opinions about the organization and quality of the academic component, including classroom instruction, field programs and how well they were integrated into the academic work, as well as the level and the appropriateness of course assignments and assessments.
The SAO has a standard program evaluation delivered to students via Qualtrics. The email goes out right before the program returns to Georgia and a reminder email sent approximately 1 week after return. In the program director faculty folder, there is a printed QR code that can be shared with participants to complete anonymously as well. The results of the SAO program evaluation will be shared via Box with faculty/staff after the post-program review is conducted.
Post-Program Review with SAO
Within 1 month of the program’s return to campus, program directors are required to meet with the SAO Director to reflect on the experience. This includes discussion of how learning outcomes were met, safety measures, consideration on future improvements, and reviewing student evaluations. This usually takes approximately one hour to go over the form in depth, but can go longer if situations arise that merit further discussion.
Be Aware of Reverse Culture Shock
Reverse Culture Shock is a term associated with the phenomenon of returning to one's own country and culture. Very similar to culture shock, a person entering into their home environment will have to make adjustments to reacquaint themselves with their surroundings. Unlike culture shock, most do not anticipate feeling like a foreigner in their own home. However, it should be expected. If your students have made any cultural adjustments while abroad/away, they will have to readjust once back home. Experiencing reverse culture shock is extremely common and may include any to all of the following emotions:
If students come to you with concerns that may be related to reverse culture shock, remind them of the services that are available for all enrolled AU students, such as Student Counseling and Psychological Services.
Keeping in Touch with Students
The relationship students can have with Program Directors during their program may be the most significant, they have with a faculty member throughout their academic career. Students often contact Program staff for references, support and mentoring. In many cases, students will consider changing their academic or career goals after studying away and may call on Program Directors for advice. Program Directors and students may face some adjustment issues, or reverse culture shock after returning to the United States. Sometimes students feel that their fellow Study Abroad/Away students and Program Directors are the only ones who understand and appreciate the meaning and significance of their travel experiences.
The SAO encourages Program Directors to discuss the possibility and merits with their Department Chair or Dean of using discretionary funds to plan a reunion with students on the program. Group Reunions allow students to share memories and photos, as well as their reflection on re-entry. They also highlight the importance of the study abroad/away academic experience in the discipline-specific context of the department.
There are sometimes conferences for study abroad/away alumni that the SAO will invite students to attend directly as another way to un-pack and share their experiences.
The Study Abroad Office encourages you to consider International Virtual Learning opportunities for your course(s). Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) as defined by the Stevens Initiative “is a new teaching and learning paradigm that promotes the development of intercultural competence across shared multicultural learning environments. Through the use of internet-based tools and innovative online pedagogies, COIL fosters meaningful exchanges between university-level teachers and students with peers in geographical distant locations and from different cultural backgrounds.” Institutions have been creative in offering a variety of ways for COIL to take place in their classrooms.