Picturesque locations, centuries old architecture and historical sites, access to cutting edge technologies and international colleagues…education abroad programs present unique and thrilling opportunities for students and faculty alike. It’s easy to get distracted by the ‘glamour’ and excitement when planning a program abroad. However, an education abroad program is first and foremost an academic pursuit designed to advance students towards graduation. Early in the planning stages faculty and staff should consider how the learning objectives of the course(s) offered will be enhanced by the international environment.
Utilizing the Location
Throughout the course design phase, consider how the location of your program can best complement the course content.
How do academic, professional, and/or cultural site visits, tours, lectures, or interviews relate to the course content? It’s okay to schedule a few activities that are more touristic in nature, but the majority of in-country activities should directly relate to the course content and learning objectives.
Do you and/or your colleagues have any in-country contacts who could provide insights and advice for events and activities that might be considered “off the beaten path”?
Consider how course readings, targeted discussion topics, guest lectures, reflective journal assignments, course projects, and/or service learning components connect the course content and host location.
How does the timing of assigned readings and course discussions relate to and complement in-country site visits and activities?
Credits Offered and Program Length
Faculty-directed programs should include the same number of contact hours per credit as courses taught on campus, i.e. a three credit lecture course generally carries 45 hours of academic content delivery. Delivery of academic content abroad will look considerably different than domestically delivered academic content during a traditional class schedule. Education abroad program directors, with the assistance of the department chair and college curriculum committee, should consider how to calculate the academic content delivery hours on a program in which out-of-the-classroom activities are a significant part of the learning experience.
Although faculty lectures are typically not the primary teaching method on international programs, directors should include dedicated time to hold discussions and present content via lectures or presentations throughout the program. It is wise to have a location reserved for such activities prior to arrival. Program directors should also consider the time, space needs, and technology access required for students to complete in-country assignments, readings and projects. Although faculty and students will spend a significant amount of time each day with one another while abroad, it is not appropriate to count every hour spent together as academic credit. It is important to discern when academic content is intentionally being delivered and when students are engaged in independent learning. For example, a group meal at a local restaurant during which the program director presents concepts related to culture or customs is considerably different from the group simply gathering to dine in a local eatery. Although both activities may enhance the student’s understanding of the local culture, only one should be considered for academic credit.
Typically, UK Sponsored programs run from two to six weeks and carry three to six credits, plus the one-credit ISP 599 course. Additional credits can be offered based on the nature of offered courses (e.g., studio courses, language acquisition, etc.). Typically, the travel component for UK Sponsored Embedded programs run from one to two weeks. The length of a program is largely determined by the amount of academic credits offered and program finances. It is important to understand that some scholarships and financial aid will be available based on program duration. Programs of four weeks or greater typically allow students to compete for more scholarships.
Selecting the Dates
When determining the dates of a program, directors should consider the dates of the regular UK semester and summer calendars, graduation dates, deadlines for submitting grades, flight availability, holidays in the US, holidays in the overseas destination(s), and the destination’s climate and tourist season. UK Sponsored programs cannot overlap the beginning or end of regular UK semesters as this would prevent students from attending on-campus classes.
For UK Sponsored summer programs, the program start date will determine the term in which the program is offered. For example, a UK Sponsored program that begins after the spring semester ends but before the summer session II begins will be built in myUK as a summer session I program. Likewise, a UK Sponsored program that begins any time after the summer session II begins but before the fall semester begins will be built in myUK as a summer session II program.
Establishing an Itinerary
The itinerary of your program should complement your academic plan and vice versa. In developing the itinerary, be realistic regarding the amount of time it will take the group to travel, dine together or separately, check in and out of accommodations, wake up, obtain tickets and gain entrance to museums or other venues, and so on. Also consider your energy level and the anticipated energy level of your students. In addition to teaching, program directors will be handling logistics and taking care of student needs from morning to night. It is strongly encouraged that program directors not account for every single minute of every single day, thereby overscheduling the program. Recognize that “free” weekends or days will be attractive to students and will be an opportunity for both you and the students to rest and revitalize. Many students will be excited to explore the local community and/or travel independently.
Including the Host Community and Local Culture
Successful international programs incorporate opportunities for intercultural learning. The ability to incorporate the host community and local culture is one of the fundamental advantages to delivering courses abroad. Ideally, students will begin developing skills and an appreciation for cultural differences prior to departure through meetings, resources and readings provided by the program directors as well as the required UK Education Abroad pre-departure orientation. Developing intercultural competency skills will give the students more confidence and better prepare them to work and study in an international setting.
On any overseas program, the students and instructor(s) will bump into the foreign culture on a daily basis. However, the creation of genuine and intentional intercultural learning opportunities that engages students in meaningful learning can be a significant challenge and only occurs with advance planning. Possible approaches include: Guided observation of, or participation in, activities typical of the culture—special events as well as everyday activities. Possibilities include utilizing public transportation, grocery shopping, religious services, sports events, music or theater performances, local celebrations and holidays.
Meetings, meals, or gatherings with local students or employees of the institutions being visited.
Homestays with local families
Briefings prior to site visits that include information on cultural traits and mannerisms such as work habits, greetings, introductions, and so on. More complex teachings might be given on the meaning or genesis of cultural traits and mannerism as well as national approaches to religion, politics, environmental issues, family and privacy, and city planning.
Independent, yet structured, activities and projects that require students to participate, observe, and then comment on cross-cultural learning.
The Education Abroad Faculty Toolkit provides many resources for faculty to incorporate intercultural learning during program development and delivery.
Academic Credits Offered
Students participating on UK Sponsored and UK Sponsored Embedded programs will enroll in UK credits via myUK. Grades earned via UK Sponsored and UK Sponsored Embedded programs will be reflected on the UK transcript and will be factored into a student’s cumulative GPA. Program directors are responsible for ensuring that the academic course(s) associated with UK Sponsored programs are created in myUK. Program directors facilitate student enrollment and submit grades using practices that conform to UK policies.
If approved by the academic department, some course content and assignments can be completed either before or after the international travel component. In UK Sponsored programs the majority of academic credit is delivered during the international travel component and any domestic content delivery is typically 1 credit hour or less. It is typical for winter and summer term UK Sponsored programs to offer between three to six credit hours, plus ISP 599. Additional credits can be offered based on the nature of offered courses (e.g., studio courses, language acquisition, etc.). Typically, in UK Sponsored Embedded programs offer three to four credit hours during the fall and spring semester and the international content delivered must be 1 credit hour or less.
UK Sponsored Program Proposals
Faculty and staff members organizing UK Sponsored programs should submit the UK EA program proposals 9-12 months prior to program departure. Programs with a shorter timeline are rarely successful in recruiting the necessary number of students. The information and documentation requested on the program proposal form is used by UK Education Abroad to begin building the program’s unique webpage and application as well as ensure compliance with Administrative Regulation 4:9 and University Senate requirements.
New UK Sponsored Program Proposal Form - program has not been offered at UK, or was offered prior to 2012
Education Abroad UK Sponsored Proposal NEW PROGRAM [.pdf]
Education Abroad UK Sponsored Proposal NEW PROGRAM [.doc]
Recurring UK Sponsored Program Proposal Form - program has been offered at UK since 2012
Recurring Education Abroad UK Sponsored Proposal REPEAT PROGRAM [.pdf]
Recurring Education Abroad UK Sponsored Proposal REPEAT PROGRAM [.doc]
In addition to the department chair and college dean’s approval, to further ensure appropriate academic oversight, the University Senate requires that all UK courses taught as part of a credit-bearing, faculty-directed education abroad program obtain college-level Curriculum Committee approval each time the course is taught abroad. This requirement applies to all courses, even those that have already been approved by the University Senate to be taught domestically. The purpose of the approval is to ensure that UK courses taught abroad meet college-approved learning objectives and outcomes. The Curriculum Approval Form must be submitted to UK Education Abroad at least two months prior to program departure.
Education Abroad UK Sponsored Curriculum Approval Form [.pdf]
Education Abroad UK Sponsored Curriculum Approval Form [.doc]
What is ISP 599?
In addition to enrolling in the course(s) associated with their UK Sponsored (non-embedded) program, students are enrolled (by UK Education Abroad) in ISP 599: Study Abroad for one credit hour.* This pass/fail course keeps students classified as full-time thus allowing them to utilize federal financial aid and most institutional aid for their education abroad program (as permitted by the term of enrollment). Students are charged tuition at the standard tuition rate for the one credit hour of ISP 599. Although enrolled in three to six discipline based courses, students participating on UK Sponsored programs are not charged any other tuition - just the one credit hour for ISP 599.
Beyond the financial advantages of ISP 599, the course is designed to provide each student with the necessary information, preparation, and support to successfully navigate the education abroad process through various orientation sessions on campus and via virtual learning. UK Education Abroad staff will inform students and program directors additional details about the course requirements for successfully passing ISP 599 each semester.
*Students participating on UK Sponsored Embedded programs are NOT enrolled in ISP 599.
Building a Program Budget
Across the nation and at UK, one of the top barriers to student participation in study abroad is cost. For several reasons, faculty-directed programs appeal to a population of students who otherwise might not consider studying abroad. In order to minimize the financial barriers for our students, we ask that program directors consider the importance of containing student costs in the development of program budgets. It is also important to understand that UK Sponsored programs are not subsidized by the university—student participants share in the entire cost of their program. Below are some factors to consider when developing your program’s budget.
Program Structure and the Influence on Finances
How does the program location impact the cost? When addressing this question, the most important factor to consider is the connection of the international location to the course content. Other factors include student interest in the location, availability of support services, and cost and ease of transportation, housing, etc. It’s important to consider the currency exchange rate and general economic factors. A program in Western Europe will likely attract a large number of students, but it will also come with a higher price tag – both fixed program fees and out-of-pocket expenses.
To what degree does the intra-program travel impact the cost? A program with a “home base” in one location with day trips and short excursions to nearby locales will likely incur significantly less cost than one that travels to multiple locations across wide geographical spans.
How much do the proposed excursions further the academic goals of the program? “Tourist” excursions may be costly; if they are not strongly tied to your academic goals, consider eliminating them as required program activities and instead allow students to explore predominately touristic activities independently.
Shorter doesn’t always mean cheaper. An international flight will be a static cost whether or not the students stay two weeks or six. Sometimes less expensive housing can be reserved for longer durations.
Does the anticipated number of students, location, and/or logistics justify the number of faculty and/or TAs? A very low student to faculty ratio often creates an undue cost burden on student participants, who pay their own expenses plus a portion of all included program directors.
Does UK or the Program Director have a relationship with a university in the desired location? The ability to connect faculty-led programs to existing university partnerships has multiple benefits. If the institution can provide logistical support, classrooms, and/or housing, it helps control costs and give you potential access to local experts, and a population of students in the host country, thereby deepening the cultural experience of participants.
What expenses are included in the program budget?
UK Education Abroad assists faculty in establishing UK Sponsored program budgets and making international purchases. UK Education Abroad has a budget worksheet and detailed financial protocols that will be shared with program directors during the planning stages. The UK Education Abroad staff provides financial support and assistance to program directors before, during, and after the running of programs.
UK Sponsored program budgets can include any and all of the following:
Program Director(s) Expenses – this may include international airfare, a meals per diem, local transportation costs, housing expenses, travel medical insurance, and a stipend for all faculty, staff and graduate student (TA) directors. These expenses are divided by the total number of participants on a program.
General Program Expenses – this may include a rented coach/bus for the entire group, rented studio or classroom space, honorariums for guest lectures, class supplies to be used by all participants, etc. These shared expenses are divided by the total number of participants on a program.
Individual Participant Expenses – this may include per person housing expenses, included meals, per person local transportation passes, per person entrance fees, per person course supplies, travel medical insurance, etc. These expenses are paid in full by each participant.
UK and UK Education Abroad Fees – this may include a contingency fee (to account for fluctuations in currency and unexpected/emergency expenses that may occur abroad), administrative fees, and ISP 599 tuition. These expenses are paid in full by each participant.
Although not included in the advertised ‘fixed’ program fee, UK Education Abroad wants to make sure that students have a complete understanding of financial obligations for each program. As such, UK Education Abroad will provide estimates for out-of-pocket expenses that are not included in the fixed program fee, such as international flights, individual meals, passport and visa fees, etc.
UK Education Abroad does not prohibit family members from joining program directors teaching abroad. However, all expenses related to accompanying family members must be excluded from the UK Sponsored program budget and instead paid out-of-pocket by program directors and/or the accompanying individual.
"Participants who withdraw from this UK Sponsored program prior to the first deposit will receive a full refund. Participants who withdraw on or after the date of the first deposit will be financially responsible for all non-recoverable expenses (can be up to or in excess of 50%). Non-recoverable expenses include anything that the University of Kentucky Education Abroad office has paid for on behalf of the participant and is unable to recover from an organization or vendor. Participants who withdraw on or after the program start date will be financially responsible for the entire program fee. **Students who withdraw on or after the first deposit and reduce the required minimum enrollment may be responsible for the entire program fee, regardless of the actual date of withdrawal.”
Additional Financial Support
Each UK Sponsored program is designed to operate via an established budget and in accordance with University of Kentucky regulations. UK Sponsored programs are funded directly by participant fees. UK Education Abroad does not provide a financial supplement nor does it earn a profit by offering of UK Sponsored programs. In the past, some colleges and departments have selected to provide a financial supplement to faculty and staff teaching UK Sponsored programs. It is the responsibility of the program director to identify and/or negotiate for any supplemental funds or grants that could be used to supplement a UK Sponsored program.
Education Abroad Program Development Grant
UK Education Abroad supports UK faculty and staff in developing faculty-directed, UK Sponsored programs. Faculty and staff interested in conducting preliminary research and/or site visits in a particular location for the development of a future UK Sponsored program are encouraged to apply for the Program Development Grant.