Today’s Top Ten Tips for Faculty Led Study Abroad

1)  Before you create a faculty led study abroad program, take the time to gauge potential student interest. Distributing a simply e-survey is the best investment in planning faculty led study abroad.  Let your customers (students) determine the path and price point.
2)  During these difficult economic times, be sure to confirm your college/university’s travel and purchasing policies. They may have changed unexpectedly. These difficult economic times are throwing all sorts of curve balls into our plans.
3)  Require emergency/medical evacuation insurance for all faculty, staff and participants. Whether it is a run to the hospital for a stomach bug, a mugging, or an earthquake in Haiti, you’ll be relieved that you did.
4)  Train your university police and weekend phone operator about your course abroad and provide them with a roster for each traveling program. A parent’s worst nightmare is turning on the news and seeing an “issue” in the host location on a weekend – and having the university’s first response employee answer their harried call, but not sound as if they have a clue about your child or program abroad.
5)  Inform your faculty and staff that are traveling abroad that they are eligible for Worker’s Compensation. This program covers any university employee who is injured while on the job.  The paperwork must be completed in a timely manner, so best to share the information prior to departure.
6)  The night before you return home, have students physically show you their passports. There is nothing worse than arriving at the airport and realizing that someone lost or misplaced his/her passport in the host country!  (I once had a student who dropped her passport in her hotel room, accidentally kicked it under the bed, got on the bus to the airport and then couldn’t get on the plane. Then, 2 hours later, she returned to the hotel, found the passport and paid a hefty fee for having to change her flight. Ugh!)
7)  Enthusiasm does not automatically translate into paper applications. Promote your program straight through to the application deadline.
8)  Tip your bus or van drivers. They are sitting on a not so comfortable bus/van while you are out in the field, learning and exploring.  They are loading your luggage, dealing with traffic, handling tricky road conditions. Make sure you put them in your budget, and if you have travel policies that restrict tipping, be sure to prepare students to have cash on hand toward tipping the driver.
9)  Invite senior administrators to the “send off” on your campus. There is nothing better for students and parents than to see your college or university President, Provost, Vice President and Dean showing their support for study abroad.  Send them off in style!
10)  Conduct a 360-degree program assessment upon your return Students/Faculty/Administrators/Providers. What was each group’s perspective? What went well? What providers would you want to hire again?  What did the students appreciate most?
What required flexibility? What are you going to do with this information to improve your program next year?

What tips would you add to this list?   Comment below….