Faculty are encouraged to meet with the director of study abroad and faculty-led programs coordinator to discuss program development. Important aspects of program development are:
Deciding the course to offer
Learning objectives should drive the design of the program. Will the location support these objectives? How long do you need to be there to meet the learning objectives? How will students develop global competency? How will the program provide opportunities that encourage student development (ie. growth in cultural awareness, academic growth, tolerance for ambiguity, leadership skills, etc.)? Can you build in opportunities to interact with locals? Are there ways to give back to the local community? Are you incorporating local experts as guest lecturers to complement the cultural component as well as the learning objectives? Are there any required pre-requisites to participate in the program (courses or experience)?
In developing the course it is important to review and follow The Forum on Education Abroad's Standards of Good Practice for Short-Term Programs. The following are their guidelines for Student Learning and Development:
Student development: The program provides opportunities that encourage student development (e.g., leadership skills, service orientation, maturity, tolerance for ambiguity, growth in cultural awareness).
Learning outcomes: The program fosters discipline-specific and/ or interdisciplinary learning outcomes appropriate to the curriculum, site, and program goals.
Language and intercultural development: The program provides language and intercultural development opportunities appropriate to its mission.
Intrapersonal development: The program includes opportunities for reflection during and after the experience.
Environmental and cultural responsibility: The organization fosters faculty, staff and student awareness and minimization of harmful individual and program-related environmental and social-cultural impacts.
Assessment: The student learning outcomes and overall student experience are assessed at the program's conclusion so that subsequent programs are improved based on this assessment.
Choosing a country of destination
Careful planning is important not only to provide an organized trip for the students but also to avoid the risk of liability for the University and for you personally. OSA works closely with faculty leaders during the program development phase. The following information will provide guidance to you, the prospective faculty leader, as you consider leading a group of students abroad.
In choosing a destination please consider the following:
Experience in country
Are you well acquainted with the country and the sites to be visited? Did you recently live, study or work in the host country?
Please refer to the
U.S. Department of State international travel site to read information about the host country. Are there significant safety concerns?
Please refer to the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health site for information regarding health issues in the host country(ies). Are there significant health concerns?
Will you be in one location while abroad or will you travel to multiple locations? How will you and the group travel safely and inexpensively from place to place?
It is important to think about how the study group will travel throughout the program. Members of the group need to know for what parts of the travel they are responsible, what parts are controlled by CMU, and what parts are the sole responsibilities of some third party.
More injuries probably occur during, and in connection with, the travel than with any other aspects of the program. Therefore, it is especially important for all travelers to know what entity is responsible for assuring reasonably safe travel during each part of the program.
We will try to walk you through the issues here.
Travel in the U.S. from home to program starting point
Does the group meet at the departure airport? If so, all persons should be responsible for their own travel to and from the airport.
If the group will meet at some other location prior to leaving for the airport, then you are responsible for arranging transportation. DO NOT set up car pools of participants using their personal vehicles. When one member of the group drives others, that driver and his/her personal auto insurance have primary responsibility for any auto liability accidents that occur. Additionally, the University does not carry auto physical damage insurance for personal vehicles, even when the vehicle is used on University-related travel. The owner of the vehicle and his/her personal insurance are entirely responsible for any such losses.
You may want to rent vehicles to take the group to the airport. The University has an arrangement for discounted rates with Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Mount Pleasant, if the group will depart from campus. However, it is not possible to drop off the car at the airport (it must be returned to the Mount Pleasant office) so the cost of this option must be considered. Because the University’s auto physical damage insurance policy excludes coverage for rental vehicles, insurance must be arranged through the CMU business credit card, personal credit card or purchased from the rental company.
If the departure point is not the airport and the group will, for example, meet in Mount Pleasant and drive together to the airport, you and the University are taking on the risk of liability for making reasonably safe arrangements. For example, are the drivers properly licensed for that type of vehicle? Do they have a safe driving record? Have you given instructions about who may drive, how often they must stop to rest or change drivers, maximum speed, etc? You do have the authority to set rules for automobile travel that are more strict than the laws of the State.
As you can see, if it is feasible, we strongly recommend that the program officially start at the airport and that participants be responsible for getting themselves there on time.
Designated program starting point in-country
When the group is instructed to make travel arrangements and get themselves to the country of destination on their own, it is important that you make clear where the students must meet and give directions for getting to the start point. All of the above instructions for transporting students will apply in this case as well.
If you are traveling on commercial airlines, the airline takes primary responsibility for liability for accidents and injuries. The airlines commonly limit liability for delays, canceled flights, and other causes or losses. You need to be familiar with the limits on their liability. You also need to clearly tell the members of the group that only the airline, and not the University, is liable for injuries in connection with the air travel.
The students pay directly for their own airline tickets. If a student purchases her/his ticket directly from the airline, then it is clearer that the relationship (contract) runs between the student and the airline.
Will there be air travel in-country during the program, as well as at the beginning and end? If so, liability for delays and canceled flights need to be considered for each segment of air travel. Some national airlines in other countries have worse safety records than we are familiar with. Because they are based in other countries, and sometimes are government-run, you and the University cannot rely on the usual standards of insurance and liability. You need to pay special attention to issues of safety and also to what amenities can and cannot be expected. If the safety and reliability risks are greater than with airlines that fly to and from the United States, you will need to explain these risks to the participants and include releases concerning this travel in the Consent and Waiver signed by the participants.
If you are
chartering a plane for the air travel, you need to involve the CMU Contracting and Purchasing Services as early as possible. Charter airlines generally have a higher record of accidents and delays. The terms of the contract between the University and the airline determine liability. However, selecting a charter airline also exposes you and the University to an additional potential liability for negligent selection of the carrier. You and Contracting and Purchasing Services need to carefully review, for example, the safety record of this charter company, the qualifications of their pilots, their record of on-time, delayed and canceled flights, their financial ability to refund the money paid in advance, and the type of insurance and policy limits for accidents. By definition, use of a charter airline is a relationship directly between the University and the charter airline.
The Office of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety purchases a Non-Owned Aviation Insurance Policy to cover charter flights that are arranged by the CMU Purchasing Office. The University pays the full premium. The charter flight must be enrolled through Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety to receive the benefits of the policy; therefore, it is critical that Contracting and Purchasing Services and Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety be included in this process.
Faculty leader arriving early or staying later
You may need to travel in advance of the group to prepare for the group’s arrival. You may also need to remain on site an extra day to “close out” the program. Please be sure to include extra time in your proposal and in the budget to be approved.
If you choose to arrive early or stay later for personal reasons you must print a flight itinerary and cost for the exact program dates and cities when purchasing your airfare. You will be responsible for payment of any additional cost for the extra time.
Air travel: Air travel within the country is discussed in the Travel Logistics section above.
Public Transportation: If needed, the cost can be included in the program and you can purchase bus, tube, etc. tickets for the group.
If you do not intend to purchase public transportation tickets for the students and do not want to include it in the program fee to be paid to CMU, yet is the plan to utilize public transportation, please be sure to inform OSA in the program proposal or renewal process and indicate the cost of the transportation so OSA is aware in creating the student estimated expense sheet. Please also be sure to tell the students ahead of time that this will be an added expense for which they will need to be prepared.
In some countries or cities, public transportation is more risky than in others (i.e. risk of being pick-pocketed). In some places, it is easy to board public transportation without paying, but if you are caught, the penalties are severe and costly. Students should be warned about these risks.
Choosing transportation in-country: How will the group travel on the ground within the country? Will you use trains or buses between cities? If so, will students be responsible for purchasing their own tickets, or will you be purchasing them for everyone? Will you hire a bus company to transport the group? Will you be renting cars within the country? Will you be contracting with a tour group?
As you make each of these decisions, you are taking upon yourself and the University the responsibility for making a reasonable choice. This means you must investigate the safety and reliability of the various choices. You and the University are at risk for negligent selection of the transportation. If you use public transportation (e.g., the trains) in most countries the reputation is established and our liability for selection is less. If you are chartering a bus company or hiring cars with drivers, you must find out how reputable the company is, what their safety record is, what the drivers’ qualifications are, what kinds of vehicles will be used, etc. The arrangements for transportation within a country may best be made by some other entity with experience with transportation within that country. If you use a reliable subcontractor to make those arrangements, then you have fulfilled your duty of care by that careful selection. Again, involve the Contracting and Purchasing Services in the agreement with that subcontractor, to be sure the obligations of the subcontractor are clear, the subcontractor has insurance for its own negligent decisions, and it is taking on the responsibilities you think it is.
When traveling to some countries, it is not possible to be certain of the reliability and safety of the ground transportation. While it is always important to inform students of the arrangements for ground transportation that have been made (along with any concerns and risks), this becomes essential where the uncertainties are greater. If you do not know, and cannot reasonably find out, whether you will be traveling in rickety busses on narrow, gravel roads, with a driver of uncertain skill, tell this to the students. Make it clear that this is a risk they are freely accepting if they decide to go on this program.
A special risk is presented when you, other faculty leaders, or students drive cars in other countries. An international driver’s license will suffice in most countries, but not in all. Insurance and liability for accidents and injuries varies widely from country to country. Rental car companies often have strict rules prohibiting use of the car in certain areas, and violations of these rules can lead to voiding of the insurance and a demand for payment, on the spot, of penalties or for alleged damage to the car.
NEVER require one of the students on the program to drive. In fact, you should discourage, and consider prohibiting entirely student driving during the program. The feasibility of forbidding students from driving depends, of course, on the nature and duration of the study and the independent movement of the participating students. Again, remember that the University has no insurance if a student driver is in an accident and injures either him/herself or passengers or other vehicles. The student driver is entirely liable for the damages to him/herself.
When you or another group leader drives students, the personal liability is also great. Please carefully review insurance information on the
Office of Risk Management,
Environmental Health and Safety website and notice the very limited coverage for employees when they are driving. Also, note that no insurance coverage is provided to drivers who are neither University employees nor students. (This is one of the reasons we recommend that all group leaders be employees of the University.)
Incorporating field trips
Most programs involve academic and cultural field trips. Careful consideration about health, safety and cost is important when selecting and planning field trips. Appropriate and affordable field trips are encouraged within the host country(ies). Students may be given free time to visit other places of interest not included in the program (ie. beach, museums, etc.).
Cultural field trips and field trips that are academic in nature may be planned in-country. A list of destinations and purpose of the field trips is required in the program proposal. For example, a boat tour on the river Thames is an appropriate field trip for students on a study program in London, but high risk activities such as bungee jumping, rappelling and sky diving are not. A copy of the field trip list will be sent to the CMU director of risk management, environmental health and safety for review.
The Standards of Good Practice for Short-Term Education Abroad specifically addresses "Extra-Academic Framework" for incorporating field trips into study abroad programs.
The organization maintains clearly stated policies on nonacademic matters related to the educational experience abroad.
For programs involving extensive travel: Faculty and program sponsors should consider carefully the number of sites proposed to visit, their geographical proximity to each other and the time spent traveling between them. More emphasis should be given to having full, in-depth experiences at each site rather than on “seeing everything” by visiting multiple sites and spending only short amounts of time on each site.
Faculty and sponsors should justify the amount of travel proposed. Visiting a large number of sites and/or countries does not necessarily provide an optimal educational experience.
For volunteer and work abroad programs: The program should be offered in collaboration with well-established, trusted, and known community-based agencies, private firms or other organizations located in the host communities.
Be clear about which activities are included in the trip at no extra cost to the participants. Include in the budget sufficient funds for admission to special events and historical sites. This will require advance research about the prices for places the group will visit. If some events are optional, be sure to tell the students well in advance, along with estimated prices, so they know they must take additional personal funds to attend these events.
All field trips will be pre-approved. Any substantial changes or additions to the field trips must be submitted for approval to Study Abroad.
Side trips to other countries:
First it is important to consider the quality of the program in relation to the duration of the program. Is there time to have a quality experience in two countries or is better to use the time available to have a more in-depth experience in one country? Some countries present very different risks to students than the primary destination of the group. When you organize side trips, the leader takes on for her/himself and the university all the responsibilities and liabilities that have been assumed for the main program. Especially when side trips are made on short notice, it is usually very difficult to assess and warn students of the risks addressed here with only a few days or hours of notice. For this reason, the university strongly discourages organizing or participating in these side trips. And a student participant should NEVER be required to take part in an additional trip.
If such a trip is to be taken, even by the students themselves, it is important you warn the students of any known risks, encourage safety, and make it clear that the students are taking on the risks themselves. (This is why no student should be required to go on such a trip; if it is required, then the student cannot freely decide to go or not.)
Considering program participants
Who may participate?
Program participants must be at least age 18 or older. For programs offering course credit, all participants must be enrolled in the course. For noncredit programs, participants must be CMU students. Spouses, family, friends or children may not travel with a program participant.
May students with disabilities participate?
Study abroad programs are open to students with disabilities. Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in university programs or activities. Although it is not clear whether these laws apply overseas, Central Michigan University will make strong efforts to enable a disabled student to participate.
Students with disabilities who wish to participate in a study abroad program and request accommodations must be registered with the Student Disability Services office. Once a student requests an accommodation, you can work with Study Abroad to determine how to provide accommodations. Each situation must be decided on a case-by-case basis, just as a request for accommodation here on campus is determined. If a disabled student approaches you about participating in a study abroad program, please contact Study Abroad. Please do not make promises to a student that cannot be fulfilled and do not turn away students because, at first glance, their inclusion seems difficult or costly.
Selecting and arranging accommodations
Who is making the arrangements for housing within the country? If you are using another entity to select and reserve the housing, have you inquired about that entity’s reliability? If prepayment is made, what are the conditions under which a refund is possible? Have you visited the chosen site to ensure the conditions are sufficient and location is reasonable to your study destination(s)? When selecting a housing site you want to be mindful of the time and expense involved with travel from place to place.
Hotels/Hostels/Bed and Breakfast, university Dormitories/Campus Housing and Home stays
You will probably either prepay or pay yourself for the entire group. Please work with Study Abroad if payment is to be made via wire transfer or check. What arrangements have been made for last minute cancellations (e.g., delays in travel, sickness of a participant, etc.)? Can you substitute one person for another? You should orient students to the kind of housing to expect: double rooms, dormitory style, etc. You also may need to orient them to cultural differences: removing shoes before entering the room, lack of heating or air conditioning, in-room or communal bathing facilities, tipping customs, etc.
Does the housing include any meals? If so which meals are included? What are the students likely to be served? What are the portion sizes? Ensure you have a clear understanding of what is included (ie. is breakfast just a piece of toast and tea? etc.). Can accommodations be made for food allergies or even preferences (ie. Celiacs, vegetarians etc.)?
How are the host families selected? What screening has taken place? What measures are in place to address any potential issues that may arise with the student and/or the host family? Has an agreement been drafted and signed by the host family and the university?
Home stays create a special obligation to educate the student about how to be a good home stay guest, but also about how to handle issues that may arise. You must educate the students about the importance of reporting suspicious situations in the home stay before they get serious.
Be very clear with students about what meals will be provided in the program fee, and for what meals they must personally pay. This will include information on when breakfast is included with the hotel or home stay.
You must have a clear understanding of the cost of meals in the various places the group will visit. This likely involves research by you beforehand. Are there some stops on the program where the meal cost is a fixed price? What kinds of dining are likely to find? Students will want to know how much money they will need for meals, so it will be important to give them a realistic amount to budget for meals during their program.
Determining program costs/budget
Faculty leader's salary
The two salary options for tenure-track faculty are:
- Salary paid by home department/college: In this case, your home department/college will pay your salary and the department/college will receive all tuition dollars generated by the program.
- Salary paid by Study Abroad: In this case, Study Abroad pays your salary at the overload rate. Study Abroad uses tuition dollars generated by the program to pay the salary. A minimum of eight students must enroll. If less than eight students enroll, a prorated salary will be paid and faculty leader expenses will need to be discussed.
Faculty leader's expenses
All the expenses you intend to claim must be included in the program budget. Below is a list of expenses that may be included in the program budget for faculty-leaders. If a program has less than eight students, the list of expenses and amount of expenses included in the budget for a faculty-leader, will need to be discussed on a case-by-case basis with Study Abroad.
*Note: If there are less than eight student-participants, it is important to discuss what faculty-leader expenses will be included in the program budget.
Your lodging will be included in a program at the same housing unit as the students. You may reserve a single hotel room for yourself and the cost is included in the program fee paid by the students. For longer-term stays, faculty may choose to rent an apartment. The most cost efficient option is recommended. If you choose housing outside of where students will be lodged, you will receive equivalent to the cost of a single room in student housing toward the cost of your housing. For example, if a single room in the hotel where the students are lodged is $1500 for the duration of the program and an apartment will cost $3000, you will receive $1500 toward your housing.
A daily meal stipend may be included in the program cost. For destinations with a low cost of living or good exchange rate, you are asked to claim no more than the CMU approved domestic daily allowance for low cost cities. For destinations with a high cost of living and unfavorable exchange rate, you are asked to claim no more than the CMU approved domestic daily allowance for high cost cities. Keep in mind that the higher the meal allowance claimed, the higher the program cost will be for the students.
When staying in an apartment, the per diem rate will be determined in consultation with the OSA.
Individual meals are a prorated amount of the meal per diem: Breakfast 20 percent, Lunch 30 percent, and Dinner 50 percent of the per diem rate.
Reimbursement for expenses such as mileage to and from the airport, parking at the airport, visa costs, etc., may be included in the program budget.
Preparing the program budget
Study Abroad will assist you in preparing the budget. Budgets are set at the time the program is proposed, approximately 12 to 18 months prior to the start of the program, and with good cost estimates a reasonable budget can be prepared. The program budget is an important part of the planning process as the advertised cost of the program and covered expenses will be a key factor in recruiting students.
Authority to sign contracts
Contracts may be needed for program providers or for such things as travel, lodging, tour guides, contracts to provide educational programs during the program, and other matters. Study Abroad will submit the contracts to Contracting and Purchasing Services for signature. Please do not sign any contracts yourself.
Paying program expenses
Study Abroad will work with you to make payment in advance for as many program costs as possible (ie. lodging, transportation, museum tickets etc.).
Study Abroad can arrange for wire transfer payments.
CMU business credit card
You are asked to obtain a CMU business credit card to pay for program expenses. Study Abroad will endorse the card and the application is handled through the Study Abroad. If you already have a department credit card, Study Abroad will endorse a second credit card specifically for the study abroad program expenses.
CMU can issue you a cash advance that will be deposited into the bank account you have set up to receive travel reimbursements. A cash advance must be requested in writing with a breakdown of expenses equaling the total amount requested. A cash advance must be accounted for upon return. Any unapproved or unaccounted for expenses from the cash advance will be returned to CMU.
Allowing student free time
Students must understand that, when they are on their own, you and the university are not responsible for their safety. Although you and the university may warn them about local hazards (i.e., traveling alone at night on the underground; the risk of pickpockets on the trains; the serious criminal penalties for drinking and driving or the use of illegal substances), they must take full responsibility for their actions during these free times.
You may provide a list of possible activities and attractions for the student’s free time, but it is recommended that you let the students make their own arrangements. When you accompany some of the students on a trip during their free time, they are likely to see this as an extension of your oversight functions on the rest of the program. Please carefully consider whether, and under what circumstances, you wish to become involved in the student’s free time activities. The reality is that you will sometimes go with them, so it is then important to distinguish your responsibilities during these times.
Addressing alcohol and drinking
It is suggested that you seriously consider a rule that no drinking of alcoholic beverages is allowed on the program, even if some or all of the students are legally of age, and even if drinking wine with meals is common in the host country. When you permit drinking at group events, you take on the responsibility of assuring no one drinks to excess and no one is injured as a result of the drinking. The liability risks are complex; after someone has been injured, it is stressful to respond to allegations that you should have done something differently.
CMU’s alcohol policy states that presidential approval is required to hold a class, review session or similar class-related activity in a bar or at a faculty member’s home where an alcoholic beverage is served. This provision applies to class-related trips, field trips, and other activities. All off-campus actions by members of the university community should be conducted in a manner consistent with the spirit of this policy. To obtain the President’s approval for an exception to the University Alcohol Policy, email your request to University Events.
One of the most difficult tasks you face is clarifying, first in your own mind and then to the students, the extent of your role in supervising the students during the program. Clarity of your role is most important for the participants.
Many of the students who will participate in your program may not have traveled extensively, even within the United States. Many students will not be as mature in dealing with an international experience as we might expect. Many, and possibly most, students will be unfamiliar with the customs and culture of the country to which you will travel, and they may be completely insensitive to the manners and courtesies expected of them in another country. While they may function very independently here on campus, and are certainly of legal age, they may have difficulty adjusting to living in another country.
Despite your best efforts, problems may arise. A student may become ill and require hospitalization. A student may be so homesick that he/she decides to return home early. A student may spend all her/his money before the program is over, and have no money to pay for meals. A student’s luggage may be stolen. A student may go out drinking at night during free time and be too hung over to take part in the program the next day. A student may be arrested for possession of an illegal drug.
In many of these circumstances, the student is ultimately responsible for his/her actions and financially responsible for any costs. The reality is, however, that you are not going to separate yourself from the student but will assist in any reasonable way you can. While your role during free time, for example, is not that of a supervisor, it will probably be that of an advisor or consultant. Simply be careful that you do not take on responsibilities that you cannot reasonably fulfill or mislead the student as to the amount to which they may rely on your judgment in a particular matter.
Although you are not expected to supervise the students 24 hours per day, you are expected to be on-site and available to the students from the published start date of the program until the published end date. You must be aware that at any given time during the program you may be responsible for responding to an emergency, even if during free time. Treat leading a program as if you are on call 24/7 and ensure that you have the ability to respond.
Selecting a co-leader/program assistant
We encourage all faculty leaders to have a co-leader. Please take into consideration any possible situation that would call you, the faculty leader, away from your teaching duties for that day. For example; you get sick and cannot teach or need to take a sick student to the hospital, you will need somebody to fill in for you.
If the group traveling together is large, you will probably be unable to provide adequate supervision and coordination of the official parts of the program by yourself. What tasks will you, or others, have to be accomplishing throughout the program? If, for example, the group you are leading is a performing arts group, you will be kept busy making final arrangements for concerts, checking lighting, sound, staging, etc., and maintaining cordial relationships with your hosts. You may not be able to coordinate travel to and from the concert hall, or to arrange for and accompany students on visits to museums, historical sites, etc.
What assistance will you need? How many other "chaperones" should accompany the group? What will be their roles? Do not convince yourself that you will not need this help or that the situation will "just resolve itself."
Do not expect students to take on the roles of coordinator and overseer. In fact, you should not allow them to take on this role, unless that function has been clearly established before the trip.
Do not expect other adults traveling with you to take on these roles. Spouses, adult children, parents, friends, etc., cannot be recruited into an overseer function. What other staff are needed for your program? For example, is a pianist for the performing group going? If so, can that person also serve as a "chaperone"?
Discuss the co-leader’s compensation and expenses with Study Abroad.
Traveling with family members
Spouses of the faculty leader who choose to travel with the program do so voluntarily. You and your family member(s) traveling with you are asked to sign an informed consent and release of all claims waiver and submit it to the Study Abroad. Your minor children may travel with the group only if another adult travels with them to provide supervision. You must sign a consent and release of all claims waiver and submit it to the Study Abroad. Please be aware that CMU liability insurance does not cover your spouse or children.
Following protocol for crises and emergencies
Study Abroad will assist you in responding to emergencies that may arise. Types of crises include:
- Serious illness
- Serious accident
- Death of a student
- Arrest of a student
- Physical assault
- Disappearance or kidnapping
- Sexual assault or rape
- Hospitalization for any reason
- Unexpected disruptions to the program (e.g., terrorism, weather, natural disasters, political crisis)
All Faculty-leaders must know and follow the Study Abroad Crisis Management:
Emergency Response Protocol - Faculty-Led Programs.pdf.
All Faculty-leaders will be asked to complete the Emergency Action Plan Questionnaire in their My Study Abroad account. The EAP will then be formatted by the faculty-led programs coordinator and emailed to all student participants.
Please contact Study Abroad for the most up-to-date points/questions included in the EAP. This information will help you understand what you will need to consider for emergency planning when leading a program abroad.
Please also be sure to visit the Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety website on foreign travel.
Promoting Faculty-led Programs
It is best to begin recruiting students one year in advance. For summer programs, this means by the start of the previous fall semester. The standard application deadline for spring faculty-led programs is October 31, making it beneficial to begin promoting the program in the previous academic year and immediately at the start of the academic year. The standard application deadline for summer faculty-led programs is February 1 and, therefore, recruiting can continue into the spring semester. Please
click here for more information regarding promotion of faculty-led programs.