Conflicts of Interest 

Updated August 2020

Properly managing conflicts of interest is essential to ethical education abroad operations. A potential conflict of interest exists when the interests of an individual or organization, whether financial or non-financial, may be seen as competing with the best interests of the students or inconsistent with best professional practices.  

This document provides guidance on how to avoid and manage potential, actual, and perceived conflicts of interest. It is meant to be used alongside the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroadthe Code of Ethics for Education Abroad, and the Guidelines for Good Business Partnerships to ethically address conflicts of interest. 

  • Institutions and organizations should have a Conflict of Interest policy and procedures for addressing conflicts of interest or their appearance. 
  • A Conflict of Interest policy should effectively manage relevant conduct. 
  • Conflicts which cannot be appropriately managed or waived after full disclosure to all parties concerned should be eliminated. 
  • Certain conflicts of interest may be resolved by requiring involved individuals and/or institutions to recuse themselves from the matter at hand. 
  • The Conflict of Interest policy should create and enforce guidelines to properly manage the potential conflicts of interest that could impair objective and fair decisionmaking about any aspect of education abroad operations, including but not limited to affiliation, approval of study abroad programs, and student enrollment in such programsSuch conflicts might result from: 
    • Gifts or Gratuities 
      • Gifts or other items or services of more than nominal value should not be given or accepted under circumstances where it might be reasonably inferred that the intent or effect is to impair objectivity. 
      • Institutions should have a process for reporting gifts of more than nominal apparent value. 
      • Any other than nominal benefits exchanged between partners or their staff should be appropriately disclosed. 
    • Rebates, Commission, or Discounts 
      • Any rebate, commission, or discount provided by a sponsoring organization should benefit the students directly. 
    • Honoraria and Consultancies 
      • Institutions and organizations should have clear policies regarding receiving and reporting compensation such as honoraria and consulting fees, particularly from partners, potential partners, or service providers.  
    • Service on Advisory and Governing Boards 
      • Service on advisory boards of education abroad organizations or associated institutions and organizations other than one’s primary employer while providing valuable feedback as well as quality oversight of education abroad programs can create the appearance of a conflict. These may be managed by actions such as full disclosure of the specific purpose, goals and terms of the service; of how costs are to be borne and of any compensation, hospitality or honoraria provided. 
      • The role of a governing board differs from an advisory board in its influence, responsibility, and accountability to an organization, moving beyond providing advice and counsel, though minimally, the expectations would be the same. As such, the guidelines for service on governing boards are subject to ethical considerations which are guided by generally accepted principles of ethical board management, and thus not included here.* 
  • Any uncertainty should be resolved in a manner that aligns with the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad (6th ed.), the Code of Ethics for Education Abroad (3rd ed.)and the Guidelines for Good Business Partnershipsreflects best practices of the field, and advances the best interests of the participating students. 

 

 

* For reference, please see: 
https://standardsforexcellence.org/Home-2/code  
https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/conflicts-of-interest   
https://www.boardeffect.com/blog/avoiding-conflicts-of-interest-on-a-board-of-directors/     

 

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