Study abroad programs are more important than ever, for both students and higher education institutions. The ever increasing interconnectedness of our world requires college graduates to be globally savvy, which in turn, has created the need for colleges and universities to provide cross-cultural communication skills, a global perspective, and additional language capabilities. Study abroad programs do a wonderful job of accomplishing this. When assembling these programs, in addition to crafting the study abroad course content, it’s vital for an institution’s international department to also take a close look at the operations and logistics behind moving students and faculty members across borders, for both cost and duty-of-care reasons.
Duty-of-care is especially important to think about when crafting study abroad trips. Students’ guardians will expect this has been addressed and having a documented plan of action in place to address an emergency will help the school act quickly, if need be. Duty-of-care includes having easy access to travelers’ itineraries and whereabouts, communication plans, as well as location and cultural norms awareness briefings. For those institutions that are partnered with a travel management company (TMC), their TMC partner should be able to provide them with traveler location reports, as well as be able to provide guidance for choosing third party solutions, such as traveler tracking platforms, medical evacuation and pre-trip intelligence.
Affordability of education abroad trips is certainly an important factor for students to consider in today’s climate of rising tuition costs and student debt concerns. Therefore, it can be advantageous to partner with a travel management company that understands the best way to price out air itineraries, including obtaining group air pricing. They can help you compare prices of group and published air, as well as assist with obtaining visas and passports. Another benefit is they’ll be checking the weather forecast a few days prior to your departures to see if any alternate plans need to be made due to inclement weather.
As a high-impact educational practice, study abroad, including faculty-led trips, summer, semester, and JTerm trips, can be a life-changing experience for students that better position them for entry into the competitive job marketplace. In addition, a positive study abroad course enhances the overall higher education experience, which makes it more likely that alumni will be receptive to the advancement department’s giving program. With this much at stake, it makes sense to ensure that every component of each study abroad trip is scrutinized, even the “behind-the-scenes” parts. For assistance with planning your institution’s study abroad trips, contact Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited.