Guidelines for On-Site Academic Advising for Education Abroad

Academic advising is essential in helping students prepare for, navigate, and process the education abroad learning experience.

On-site academic advising in education abroad plays a critical role in helping students to make this experience as purposeful and meaningful as possible. Effective advising helps students integrate education abroad into their individual degree planning, coordinate courses abroad with coursework at their home institution, and prepare for differences in academic cultures.  It can encourage students to take advantage of the full range of opportunities available to them.

I. Objectives of On–Site Academic Advising for Education Abroad

On-site academic advising in education abroad should help students develop a purposeful education plan for the period in which they will be abroad. Academic advising helps orient the U.S. student to a new academic culture in terms of courses, credits, policies and procedures. In some cases, these aspects of academic culture may differ significantly from those on the student’s home campus.

II. Responsibilities of On-Site Academic Advising for Education Abroad

Although both students and advisors have shared responsibility, where possible and appropriate, choices about a student’s academic plan should remain the purview of the student. Academic advising should make students aware of the available curricular and co-curricular resources to advance learning and personal development during the experience abroad, and encourage students to utilize these resources. Advising should be proactive, accurate, and coherent.

III. Helping Students Make Informed Choices about Education Abroad Courses

Information about On-Site Education Abroad Academic and Co-Curricular Opportunities

  • Advisors should direct students to the sources of information (websites, online databases, peer advisors, advising staff, faculty, meetings and handbooks, etc.) that will help the student to plan for the experience abroad.
  • Advisors should provide accurate and timely information regarding institutional and program requirements, and institutional policies and procedures that impact students. Informative materials – electronic, print or other – about education abroad policies, procedures and other information should be accurate, current and properly referenced.

Academic Goals, Coursework at Home and Abroad, and Degree Plans

  • Advisors should assist students make the best academic choices for the education abroad experience by helping the student identify coursework and co-curricular opportunities such as internships and service-learning. Advising should be comprehensive and practical, considering academic and pre-professional factors in selecting courses. Advisors should review student course choices to help students choose the appropriate learning opportunities in light of their long-term educational goals and short-term learning goals in the host country.
  • Advisors should encourage the best fit between students’ abilities and academic backgrounds and the academic program and culture in the host country.
  • Academic advisors should make advisees aware that courses completed during education abroad may or may not affect the student’s expected time to graduation. They should encourage the student to work with their home-institution advisor to clarify the place of the on-site coursework within their own degree plan, and in relation to requirements for enrollment at their home institutions, such as course structure, course hours, and transfer of credit.
  • Advisors should assist students in navigating and understanding the academic approaches, expectations, and standards at the host universities and programs, and, when called-upon, assist the students in resolving differences between the on-site academic culture and that of the home campus.
  • Advisors should be knowledgeable about their own institutions/organization’s requirements, policies and procedures in respect to education abroad/visiting students, and be able to communicate this to students. They should be familiar with the policies of the home institutions of the students they serve, and should encourage students to communicate with their home institutions to resolve any ambiguity about the home institution’s education abroad requirements and policies.

IV. Ethical and Legal Responsibilities

  • Academic advisors should be knowledgeable about and adhere to the ethical standards of academic advising, of education abroad, and of their institution/organization.
  • Advisors should be knowledgeable about the regulations and ethics of their organizations as well as of the student’s home country, and about relevant international law with respect to confidentiality and ethics.
  • Advisors should seek to assist all students in meeting their individual needs and goals, no matter what their ability; age; cultural heritage; disability; ethnicity; gender identity; nationality; political affiliation; race; religious affiliation; sex; sexual orientation; economic, marital, social, or veteran status; and any other bases included in local, state, or federal laws.

V. Organization and Management

  •  Advising staff should be qualified sufficiently to support the mission and goals of the institution concerning advising and education abroad.
  • Advising should be conducted by trained faculty, administrators,  staff or peer advisors.
  • Advisors should possess appropriate professional credentials and have relevant experience
  • There should be clear procedures and guidelines for the selection, training, evaluation and supervision of advising staff.
  • Advising appointments should be made available regularly throughout the education abroad process.
  • Advising should be under appropriate administrative control and oversight.

Member Resources

There are 2 items in the toolbox. Please log-in or join The Forum to access these essential resources.