Stephen F. Austin State University


The Office of International Programs (OIP) coordinates and facilitates opportunities for faculty to lead a group of SFA students while teaching one or more courses abroad. The OIP will assist in developing logistical arrangements, programmatic support and travel arrangements. The office will also assist in budget development and collection and dispersal of funds for program costs. The following sections should give you enough information to start planning your program. Please contact the Study Abroad Coordinator for more information.

We also have a Faculty Handbook which is extremely useful in planning and carrying out your study abroad program. We encourage you to read it thoroughly.

Plan Your Program

SFA Faculty-led programs add a unique insights to what is offered via traditional teaching in the classroom experience. We appreciate your careful planning and leadership in encouraging students to include study abroad in their college plan. Study abroad program leaders must ensure that the program not only broadens the students' experiences and enhances their understanding of the culture, but also furthers their academic accomplishments. Consider the following:

• Take advantage of contacts that you or members of your department have in the host country. Confirm academic quality of planned events by speaking with on-site representatives, making advance site visits and carefully reviewing all available information sources.

• All shortened courses shall consist of the same number of class contact hours as similar courses offered in a regular session or summer session; that is, normally 45 to 48 contact hours. Courses shall also have the same objectives, requirements, and quality of instruction as regular length courses.

• Consider how pre- and post-travel meetings and courses can add to the learning experience.

• Consider including an introductory/conversational language component relevant to your country if applicable.

• Be careful that your program does not compete with another program on campus for a target student population, which could affect your recruitment efforts.

• Discuss college and/or departmental funding assistance available to participants, to broaden your student profile

• Keep in mind that planning a short-term study abroad program will require you to go beyond the usual realm of planning and to become a travel agent, bookkeeper, first aid administrator and 24-hour companion.

Forms and Deadlines

In the year prior to the proposed study abroad program, faculty leaders should submit to the OIP the Planning Proposal due on May 1st and the Final Proposal due on September 1st. The Planning Proposal is not meant to be a comprehensive document but rather an outline of the program that you will present in more detail (budget, detailed itinerary, etc.) in the Final Proposal. Faculty leaders of new and existing faculty-led programs must submit both of these proposals.

Please keep in mind that OIP will estimate the number and dollar amount of study abroad scholarships based on information from the Planning Proposals received by May 1st.

*OIP may not have scholarship funds available for programs whose Planning or Final proposals are submitted after the due dates.

The following is a brief overview of the application process:

1. Faculty complete the Planning Proposal (including obtaining the signatures of their Chair and Dean) and submit to the OIP for review. The Planning Proposal is due on May 1st.

2. OIP will review the Planning Proposal, make necessary recommendations and sign.

3. OIP will assist faculty with the Final Proposal, as needed. Faculty complete the Final Proposal (including obtaining the signatures of their Chair and Dean) and submit to the OIP for review. This Final Proposal is due on September 1st.

4. OIP will review the Final Proposal, make necessary recommendations and sign.

5. OIP will forward the Final Proposal to the Provost for final on-campus approval.

6. Upon final completion, OIP will submit the course/s electronically to the THECB for state approval.

7. Faculty leaders submit to OIP the Pre-departure/Faculty Form by February 1st.

8. Faculty leaders submit to OIP the Pre-departure/Safety and Contingency Plans Form by March 1st.

Faculty salaries are paid by departmental teaching allocation. Travel cost of the instructor is prorated over the pool of student participants. Students will pay SFA tuition, fees, and their share of the programmatic and travel expenses.

Travel Procedures

Travel requests will be completed by OIP; however, each faculty leader must submit his or her own Travel Voucher to OIP within 15 days after the last day of the program. In order to receive reimbursement, travel expenditures must be documented on the Travel Voucher approved by the Travel Office and signed by the traveler. If the voucher exceeds the original request by more than $50, a revised Travel Request must be approved at all applicable levels. The Travel Voucher must reflect the total reimbursable expenses paid by the employee, regardless of whether advance travel funds were received. Expenses paid by the university should not be on the Travel Voucher. Original receipts are required for all travel expenses. In the case of meal expenses for group travel, the sponsor/advisor must provide documentation of how the funds were expended.

The Travel Voucher must be submitted, with original receipts attached, to the Controller's Office within 15 days from the ending date of the trip. No reimbursements will be made and all prior year encumbrances will be cancelled 15 days after the end of the fiscal year.

All amounts listed on the Travel Voucher must be converted to U.S. dollars using the rate applicable on the date of the expenditure. A foreign currency conversion table is available online at the travel website. Documentation of the conversion calculation must be attached to the Travel Voucher. Receipts are required for all reimbursed expenses. In lieu of providing receipts and foreign currency conversions for foreign meals, travelers may elect to be reimbursed at Texas per diem rates.

Promoting Your Program

Promotional materials must be carefully crafted. Specific promises (e.g., a "fun time") should be avoided. Commitments should not be expressed unless they can be delivered in a concrete and ascertainable manner. Moreover, certain warnings should be contained either in the advertising or application: (1) a disclaimer cautioning that changes in the program could occur and that reasonable substitutions will be made to the best ability of the faculty leader; (2) no refunds are made for activities missed by group members; and (3) damage caused while overseas is the responsibility of the person causing the damage.

Tips for Preparing Your Students

One of the most important aspects of developing your study abroad course is setting appropriate expectations for students. The more students understand of the academic goals of your course, the standards you intend to apply, and the practical issues of logistics and cultural adjustments in an international setting, the smoother the program will run.

The orientation sessions you hold in the months prior to departure will be an important source of information of this kind. During those meetings, you may want to show slides or photos of the course location, distribute the reading and project assignments list, discuss the grading system.

Aside from administrative concerns, a study abroad program must be carefully planned and implemented to prevent potential legal risks involving the safety and security of participants. The preparation and execution of a study abroad program should seek to address all foreseeable risks. Prior to departure, all known hazards should be analyzed and plans formulated on how to deal with them. It is necessary that students are fully alerted about any potential risk and instructed on appropriate ways of responding. While overseas, all reasonable steps must be taken to avert foreseeable perils and students should be notified about possible threats to safety.

Finally, the majority of students participating in your course will not have traveled abroad before. Your clarity about the country where you will study will be reassuring to them. While they will welcome your observations about the course site, your students will greatly enjoy hearing from other SFA students who have studied there. Best of all would be a presentation from SFA international students who could speak from an insider's perspective on his or her home country.

Tips for Directors by James Citron, Study Abroad Director (NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 57th Annual Conference, Seattle, WA. 2005):

• Orientation is an ongoing process. As the director, you don't have to know all the answers. If in doubt about the bus routes, where the best cell phone deals or Internet cafés are, or where to eat in a new city, assign the students to figure it out the answers as a team and bring them back to share with the rest of the group (in the form of maps, schedules, price lists, etc.). It actively engages the students in the host language and culture and it takes the burden off you.

• One or two well-timed group or individual meting during the program can serve as a great reality check, rekindling the group energy, and redirecting us all toward the goals we have set for ourselves. If we are not reaching our goals, it may be time to ask why.

• Discussion time is important throughout the program. A final meeting (or two or three) to identify what we have learned, how our attitudes or understandings have changed, and what we're going to do with it all when we go back home, is essential.

• Document expenses every day. You may think you'll remember them later, but you won't.

We look forward to working with you in developing new programs abroad. Please contact us to start working on your program today!