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Supporting Your Students to the Fullest: Your List of Standards to Implement Before, During & After Their Experience Abroad

The time when students are abroad is certainly an important part of their education abroad experience, but it’s not the only part of their journey that needs to be top quality! From the moment you begin communicating with the student pre-departure to well after their return home, it is the responsibility of the institution and/or education abroad organization to ensure that student has a stellar experience abroad.

What if there was a checklist of sorts for what to be sure you’re offering your students? In the 6th edition of The Forum’s Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, we share a robust list of requirements, recommendations, and possibilities to consider.

As a reminder:

  • shall = minimum requirement
  • should = recommendation
  • can = possibility

Before the Program

Responsible parties shall prepare all students to be successful abroad throughout the program design, outreach, advising, application, and pre-departure processes. They:

Shall keep specific learning outcomes and educational objectives central to program design.

Shall communicate the value of education abroad for students’ personal, academic, and career goals.

Shall endeavor to recruit and advise students from all segments of the student population, including those who are historically underserved by their organization’s programs.

Should develop strategies to increase participation by historically underserved groups.

Shall communicate the importance of understanding the social, historical, political, economic, linguistic, cultural, and environmental context(s) for each program and location.

Shall prepare students to participate in the curricular and co-curricular aspects of each program.

Shall engage students in academic planning relevant to their studies and programs, including, but not limited to, consideration of:

  • course equivalencies
  • credit and credit articulation
  • academic differences
  • assessment and grading
  • relevant career plans

Shall evaluate student competencies and place students in language and other courses at their level.

Shall communicate expectations for conduct and consequences of behaviors to participants.

Shall prepare participants to navigate the cultural transition and to engage in culturally relevant, ethical, and reciprocally beneficial activities in relation to the local context.

Should encourage students to consider the social, cultural, economic, and environmental impact of each program and to mitigate negative or harmful impacts.

Shall communicate to participants the significance of identities including, but not limited to, racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, religious, ability, citizenship or nationality, and socioeconomic status in relation to the program context.

Shall provide students with information related to accessing physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being services.

Shall prepare students to manage their safety by providing resources related to concerns including, but not limited to:

  • physical risks
  • behavior
  • property crime
  • liability and legal issues
  • sexual misconduct
  • identity-based discrimination
  • country-specific recommendations

Recognizing that not all countries have in place the same support and infrastructure as the home institution, responsible parties shall:

  • clearly convey to students the importance of disclosing mental and physical disability status, accommodation, and other specific needs;
  • work with other responsible parties and students to determine how their needs may be met on the program;
  • and advise students on other program options if their needs cannot be met.

Shall publish and provide full program cost estimates to students in writing prior to acceptance.

Should provide information on financial topics, including, but not limited to:

  • all costs of participation
  • financing options
  • financial aid
  • scholarships
  • loans
  • budgeting
  • currency conversion and exchange rates

Should support students in identifying and accessing sources of funding, including competitive scholarships and grants.

Shall prepare students to manage program logistics including travel, housing, and group dynamics.

Shall communicate the need to obtain passports or alternative travel documents for students of all citizenship statuses.

Can support passport and travel document procurement processes

Shall communicate the need to comply with host country immigration and/or visa processes for students of all citizenship statuses.

Should support the immigration and/or visa processes with information and required documentation.

During the Program

Responsible parties shall support student learning and development to achieve portfolio and/or program learning goals. They:

Shall communicate to students their responsibilities for managing program logistics including travel, housing, and group dynamics.

Shall communicate expectations for conduct, consequences of behaviors, and appeals processes.

Can develop strategies to support conduct and behavior improvement, including reflective activities or restorative justice programming.

Shall support students’ understanding of the social, historical, political, economic, linguistic, cultural, and environmental context(s) for each program and location.

Shall support students’ participation in the curricular and co-curricular aspects of the program.

Should support students in relating the experience to personal career goals.

Shall support students to interact in a respectful, ethical, mindful, and sustainable way in the local community.

Can provide students with opportunities to reflect on the social, cultural, economic, and environmental impact of their activities.

Shall support students as they navigate identities including race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, religion, ability, and socioeconomic status in the local context.

Shall support students in accessing physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being services.

Shall support students in managing their safety by providing resources related to concerns including:

  • physical risks
  • behavior
  • property crime
  • liability and legal issues
  • sexual misconduct
  • identity-based discrimination
  • communication, social media use, and freedom of expression
  • country-specific recommendations

Shall support students with accommodation needs related to disability status and identity and determine how their needs may be met in the program.

Shall support students in obtaining and maintaining legal immigration status or direct them to appropriate resources.

After the Program

Responsible parties shall support post-program integration and application of academic, professional, and personal learning. They:

Shall create opportunities for reflection.

Can provide occasions for students to share their experiences through opportunities including panels, photos, videos, essays, and research.

Shall support students in the course equivalency and credit articulation process (for credit-bearing programs).

Should create opportunities for integration of learning abroad with future learning.

Shall provide resources related to student mental and physical well-being related to program participation.

Should prepare students to identify transferable skills developed through education abroad.

Should prepare students to communicate the value of education abroad to employers and other audiences.

Can offer leadership opportunities or ambassador programs for students.

Should encourage continuing local and global engagement in culturally relevant, ethical, and reciprocally beneficial activities.

Can work with students to mitigate the social, cultural, economic, and environmental impacts of their travel experiences.

Can inform students about opportunities to build upon their learning abroad experience, including, but not limited to, academic, governmental, and non-governmental programs, fellowships, and grants.

The Forum on Education Abroad is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the field of education abroad. As such, it is The Forum’s responsibility to monitor changes in our field of professional practice and maintain, update, and promulgate the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad according to the needs of our field.

Next Steps

Authored by Stephanie King.