As a professor or study abroad advisor, you know first and foremost that sometimes the world has more to offer students beyond the four walls of a classroom, be it the opportunity to study the works of Shakespeare in the historic streets of London, Buddhist art in the temples of Nepal, or tropical ecology in the rainforest of Panama. College is an exciting time for students to go abroad to broaden their horizons, learn about the topics you teach on a deeper level and build cultural awareness and social skills.

Planning, implementing, and teaching a faculty led program for your students can be an overwhelming process with many details to sort out. Choosing a program provider to lead your program is an option available to you that can help ease your workload and your mind.

If you are considering starting a faculty led abroad program using a program provider, our guide to faculty led programs abroad gives you everything you need to know.

What is a program provider?

Study abroad program providers are third-party organizations that manage, facilitate or operate programs overseas for students. Program providers offer programs in a variety of disciplines and locations worldwide, including countries such as Cuba and North Korea where tourism is not readily available to travelers from the United States.

There is a wide variance in the range of services offered by program providers that varies based on cost, program type and location. Most providers at least provide accommodation, tours and meals. More inclusive programs will also include flights, language classes and tuition. Some programs will include free or discounted rates for faculty, staff, and/or programs.

Some program providers offer structured courses, but most are able to customize and tailor their offerings to better meet the needs of your students and course. Program providers exist to make the experience of studying abroad easier and more meaningful for you and your students.

Why choose a provider instead of organizing my own trip?

There are many benefits to using a program provider for faculty led programs. Here’s our breakdown:

  • Program providers are in-country experts who know the country or countries you are interested in taking students to like the back of their hand. You will be able to leverage their experience and knowledge to create the best possible experience for your students.
  • Program providers may have ideas for activities or experiences that you weren’t aware of that will further enhance your course. Who knows what wonderful options are available in the area you want to go to? Program providers do!
  • Sometimes turning dreams into reality can be difficult, especially without any help. Program providers can tailor or customize their experiences to create a course that meets, and exceeds, everything you are looking for in a study abroad experience.
  • Using a program provider allows you to focus your concerns on teaching and cultural immersion instead of dealing with logistics. As a professor you are busy enough teaching. Let someone else help you with details.
  • Program providers have emergency management protocols that will make handling any issues that arise on your study abroad experience a smoother experience. Regardless of the level of assistance a program provider provides, their protocol will ease your mind.
  • Who couldn’t use additional support, especially when traveling abroad? Working with a program provider means you will have backup, reachable in person, by email or phone, if you find yourself in a sticky situation or even just need more information to answer questions that pop up while you are overseas.

If you use a program provider, who teaches the course?

When going through a program provider, it is typical that the provider will be in charge of organizing the logistics of all travel details while faculty members will be responsible for teaching the course, administering homework or exams, and grading assignments.

Program providers can help you draft and adapt an itinerary to fit the curriculum of your course and also help arrange for activities, tours and guest speakers that will support the topics you are teaching and help your students engage more deeply in the course. By having someone else arrange transportation, accommodation and logistical details, you can focus on what you do best –teaching.

How do program providers handle emergencies abroad?

Emergency management is a big consideration for faculty looking to lead programs overseas. It is important to know before you go what the protocol is for handling emergencies such as student injury or illness, criminal activity, natural acts or other events that could potentially present harm to students and faculty.

Though all program providers have strategic protocols, the way they handle emergencies abroad also varies greatly. Some have insurance policies that cover medical and emergency costs for the length of the trip, but students going abroad will need to have their own health insurance back in the United States that includes emergency medical transportation, hospital care, accidental death and dismemberment, repatriation of remains, and evacuation coverage.

It's also recommended that students have a travel insurance policy that will cover changes to transportation and loss or theft of personal items.

Regardless of the protocol, faculty members on the program will need to be available to help handle emergencies at all times. All program providers have a protocol for

How does payment work when using a program provider?

Typically, when a faculty member decides to use a program provider, students will still pay tuition directly to their university of college. The institution will then be responsible for paying the program provider for the cost of the program.

By paying the tuition directly to the university, students will often times be able to use scholarship money or federal funding to apply to the cost of the program. Universities are also able to offer study abroad scholarships this way as well.

Most program providers do not charge faculty members for the cost of the program. Some will even give university additional spots for faculty or chaperones free of charge if a certain number of students sign up to participate.

Contributed by Lauren Salisbury

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