Tips for Creating Your Own Study-Abroad Program

Student drawing airplaneWant to take your students abroad to gain a greater understanding of your discipline? You’re not alone: UTSA faculty currently lead about two dozen study-abroad programs around the world every year … learning archeological field techniques in Belize … studying English literature in London …  exploring cultural and education systems in China … and many more.

Recently, Julius Gribou, executive vice provost and senior international officer, led a round-table session in the Faculty Center on the ins and outs of making a proposal to lead a UTSA faculty-led study abroad program. It covered the planning process, the paperwork and policies, as well as considerations for designing a program that is appropriate to the discipline and to international study. The program also covered international risk management planning and preparation before and during a study abroad program.

Here are five tips to consider:

  • Be sure to consider possible collaborations with other UTSA faculty, colleges, third-party affiliates, and foreign universities. Use collaborators to make your program more appealing to students and less of a logistical headache for yourself. Look for partnerships.
  • Start planning early: It can take a year or more to plan a program. You must consider location, housing, cost, risk management, logistics and how course credits will apply to students/transfer back to UTSA.
  • You will have to abide by UTSA and UT System policies: There are request forms and approval processes that must be completed before you can begin telling students about your program.
  • Marketing is a must: You have to sell the program to students (and their parents). Start marketing as soon as the program is approved. Meet with Education Abroad Services staff to have your program brochure built and application turned on within the online study abroad application portal. Man a table at the UTSA fall and spring study abroad fairs, visit colleagues’ classrooms, visit student clubs that might have interest to build your program’s application numbers.
  • There will be specific expectations of you as a faculty leader: You are a partner with Education Abroad Services to prepare your students for what will happen before, during and after the faculty-led program. There are pre-departure requirements and in-program risk management needs that faculty leaders must consider.

Visit the UTSA International Gateway website for more details on making a program proposal and to download the complete program proposal application.

March 7, 2014