M-8: OPERATING POLICIES FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATION ABROAD PROGRAMS

 

Purpose

To summarize University policies governing the development, implementation, and operation of undergraduate programs offered for Penn State academic credit at an out-of-country location.

 

Context

To support the general mission of the University Office of International Programs, education abroad programs are designed to achieve the following general goals:

1. promote an international component to the University's curriculum.

2. complement the University's general education program;

3. supplement those professional and specialized programs where an education abroad experience is especially desirable;

4. promote sensitivity to and appreciation of the world's diverse cultures;

5. prepare students for citizenship in an increasingly interdependent global community.

The University is committed to providing a high quality education abroad experience to as broad a range and as large a population of Penn State students as possible.

 

Definitions

OEAP: Office of Education Abroad Programs

UOIP: University Office of International Programs

EAAC: Education Abroad Advisory Committee

Education Abroad Program: Any course or body of courses offered fully or in part for undergraduate Penn State credit at an out-of-country location

 

Office of Education Abroad Programs

The Office of Education Abroad Programs is responsible for the development, implementation, and operation of all undergraduate education abroad programs offered by the University.

 

Education Abroad Advisory Committee

The Chair of the International Council, in consultation with the Office of Education Abroad Programs, annually appoints an Education Abroad Advisory Committee to:

1. advise the OEAP on matters of general policy affecting the operation of undergraduate education abroad programs;

2. provide input to the OEAP for its strategic planning process;

3. participate in the review and evaluation of on-going education abroad programs;

4. participate in the review and evaluation of proposals for new education abroad programs;

5. respond to requests from the OEAP, the Dean of International Programs, or the International Council for advice on questions regarding the development, implementation, and/or operation of education abroad programs.

 

Administrative Policies

In addition to applicable University policies, the following specific policies govern the administrative support of the University's education abroad programs:

1. The OEAP oversees the planning and development of all undergraduate education abroad programs of the University.

2. The OEAP is the central administrative unit responsible for providing administrative support and coordination on behalf of the University for undergraduate education abroad programs that are offered by the academic units for academic credit.

3. The OEAP is responsible for providing the administrative and logistical infrastructure to support the operation of the University's undergraduate education abroad programs.

4. The OEAP may, at its discretion, delegate authority for various administrative and logistical details to relevant units within the University when, in the OEAP's judgment, that is desirable to further the overall mission of the UOIP.

 

Academic Policies

In addition to applicable University policies, the following specific academic policies govern the operation of the University's education abroad programs:

1. Education Abroad Programs must be approved for credit by the appropriate academic departments and be listed under regular Penn State course numbers. When an appropriate course number does not exist, courses abroad are listed under X99 numbers.

2. Students remain registered at Penn State while completing courses abroad.

3. Grades for courses abroad are assigned by the individuals responsible for providing the instruction on-site. In those cases where grades are based on a system other than Penn State's, the OEAP, in consultation with the appropriate academic authorities at both the host institution and Penn State, is responsible for translating grades into Penn State equivalents.

4. The OEAP, in consultation with the appropriate academic authorities, is responsible for ensuring that participant selection procedures are consistent with Education Abroad Program objectives.

5. To be eligible for participation in an education abroad program, students must be in good standing with the University; must meet the requirements of the specific program for which they are applying; and must demonstrate evidence of maturity, stability, self-discipline, strong academic motivation, and cultural adaptability. For those programs that have specific course prerequisites, candidates must complete each of the course prerequisites with at least a "C" before enrolling abroad.

 

Fiscal/Contractual Policies

In addition to applicable University policies, the following specific fiscal/contractual policies govern the operation of the University's education abroad programs:

1. The OEAP is responsible for negotiating and administering all fiscal and contractual commitments on behalf of the University in the operation of undergraduate education abroad programs.

2. It is expected that each education abroad program will normally be self-supporting, although exceptions may be made at the discretion of the OEAP if, in its judgment, a program is academically essential in terms of the overall mission of the UOIP and if funding is available to provide the necessary subsidies.

3. Operating costs for education abroad programs are normally covered by income realized from students' tuition payments, room and board fees (when applicable), program fees (a modest but standardized assessment levied upon all education abroad participants), gifts, and grants.

4. Operating budgets for education abroad programs are credited for all tuition and room/board fees collected by the Bursar's Office from education abroad participants for the semesters or academic sessions during which they are enrolled in an education abroad program.

5. In the case of exchange programs, affiliation with foreign institutions is based, to the fullest extent possible, on an exchange of academic and, as appropriate, logistical services rather than an exchange of monies.

 

Program Development Procedure

The Dean of International Programs exercises final authority over the approval or disapproval of new education abroad programs. The OEAP and the EAAC provide advice and recommendations upon which the Dean bases the decision to approve or disapprove the establishment of a new program. All individuals and academic departments wishing to offer a new undergraduate education abroad program must submit a proposal to the EAAC through the OEAP with an endorsement page indicating that the course content has been reviewed and approved by the Penn State academic department(s) under which the course(s) will be accredited.

Proposals for new programs may be initiated by an academic unit in consultation with the OEAP or from within the OEAP itself. The OEAP maintains guidelines for the preparation of such proposals and is available for consultation in developing proposals. Proposals for new programs must adhere to the OEAP guidelines, must bear the endorsement of all relevant academic units, and must be reviewed by the EAAC before submission to the Dean of International Programs. Academic units interested in developing proposals for new programs should consult with the OEAP before initiating any exploratory contacts abroad.

To ensure that the total number of programs does not exceed the capacity of the OEAP's administrative resources, proposals for new programs are evaluated not only in terms of their inherent merits but also in relation to other existing and developing programs. Priority is given to those programs which, in the judgment of the OEAP, the EAAC, and the Dean of International Programs, contribute the most to fulfilling the overall mission, general goals, and strategic plan of the UOIP and which have the greatest potential for viability on a continuing basis.

Proposals for new Education Abroad Programs must be thoroughly reviewed and approved by the pertinent Penn State academic departments. Proposals must bear the endorsement of the relevant departments and contain descriptions and/or syllabi for the courses being proposed. In addition, the EAAC and the Dean of International Programs consider the following general criteria in deciding whether a proposed program should be established:

1. the program's contribution to the overall mission, general goals, and strategic plan of the UOIP and proposing unit;

2. the level of student and faculty interest;

3. the program's inherent academic quality and distinctiveness;

4. the ways in which the program complements rather than duplicates course work available at the home campus;

5. the program's adherence to the administrative, academic, and fiscal/contractual policies governing the operation of education abroad programs;

6. the rationale for offering the program abroad rather than at the home campus;

7. the rationale for offering the program at the particular location being proposed;

8. the desirability and level of need for such a program at Penn State;

9. the availability of resources and support services abroad to ensure a viable program of high academic quality;

10. the range of students who would benefit;

11. the nature of the quality control that is built into the program;

12. the extent to which the program takes advantage of the features and resources unique to education abroad (e.g., the level of cultural immersion, the degree of integration into the host institution, the length of time spent abroad, and the nature and degree of exposure to a language other than English).

 

Program Review Procedure

The OEAP will annually solicit evaluative feedback from students and on-site staff as an ongoing quality control process. In addition, the OEAP will periodically initiate formal reviews of selected existing programs to ensure that academic quality is being maintained and that the program's goals are being fulfilled. The OEAP, in consultation with the appropriate academic units, prepares such periodic reviews and submits them to the EAAC. Those reviews generally include:

1. a complete narrative description of the program;

2. a summary of the program's specific objectives and the means employed to achieve those objectives;

3. a detailed discussion of the academic, administrative, and logistical arrangements;

4. course descriptions and/or syllabi and, when available, curricula vitae for the foreign faculty providing the instruction;

5. a summary of responses to the evaluation questionnaires routinely distributed by the OEAP to returning students;

6. a statistical summary of student enrollments (number of applicants, number of final participants, academic majors represented, GPA of students at the time of selection, etc.);

7. a summary of grades reported and credit hours generated;

8. a report on staff visits to the program;

9. a summary of input received from the foreign faculty and staff;

10. an OEAP recommendation on whether the program should be continued in its current form, modified, or terminated.

After reviewing the foregoing documents, the EAAC submits its advice and recommendations to the Dean of International Programs.

Except for fiscal exigency and other highly unusual circumstances, the Dean of International Programs will consult with the OEAP and the EAAC before eliminating a program that has been approved for inclusion in the body of ongoing Education Abroad Programs at the University.

 
Approved: Provost Brighton (3-19-94)

The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information. Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.