Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad

Standards

Our management team has decades of experience in the study abroad field and operates our programs in alignment with best practices in education abroad.

Our Mission

Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders

Our mission is to prepare students to be leaders in an increasingly interconnected world.

Building Competencies

Anyone attending college today will collaborate or compete with people and companies from around the world over the course of his or her career. It is difficult for someone to be effective in this global environment without some intercultural competencies and an awareness of current international issues.

We help students that attend our study abroad programs develop intercultural competencies by:

Focusing on academic topics that are relevant and timely

  • Taking our students outside the classroom with innovative co-curricular travel and events that are linked to their academic curriculum
  • Providing a network of local knowledge and logistical support that allows students to engage with local host country resources
  • Encouraging our students to move out of their comfort zone and meaningfully engage with the host country culture

Improving Access

We believe that most students should have a study abroad experience at some point during college.  We invest a significant amount of our time and resources in improving access to study abroad.  Specifically, we:

  • Aim to maintain affordable study abroad options within our network of programs
  • Provide meaningful levels of financial support to promote diversity in study abroad
  • Support US colleges and universities in building their capabilities in study abroad, particularly in terms of advising and supporting their students, and with relevant technology solutions

Our Values

At Global Semesters, we expect our students and our staff to adhere to our values and goals

  • Act with integrity and honor. Do the right thing
  • Bring academic rigor and critical thinking to our study abroad programs
  • Have a passion for direct experience and interaction with other cultures
  • Work together to surpass our students' expectations and create an enriching study abroad experience
  • Behave ethically and respect the laws of the countries we visit
  • Never compromise the safety of our students and staff
  • Learn a lot and have fun!

Our Approach

As a university, we are focused on academic development first and foremost.  There are many ways to approach study abroad and many different styles of study abroad programs.  Our approach as a host university is on focused themes that integrate academics and co-curricular activities and having a support platform that allows students to maximize their time learning about and experiencing the countries they live in.

"Thematic" Programs

Most of our study abroad programs are structured around an academic theme that falls within our areas of specialty.

We pride ourselves on taking topics that are either highly relevant and timely (the Globalization of Business, the European Union) or that focus on an underserved area in study abroad (Byzantine Art, Health Sciences, Medical Spanish, etc.).

We think this interest in overall program design leads to richer, more interesting programs.

Co-curricular Travel and Experiences

All of our programs incorporate a large amount of in-country travel and host city cultural experiences. We think it is imperative that our students see and experience all aspects of their host country.

In one semester in Cyprus, for example, our students will visit mountain monasteries and beach resorts, embassies and cheese factories, ancient Roman ruins and church festivals; student dances and foreign embassies.

What we are best known for, however, are our thematic multi-country programs, such as the Semester in Europe, the Semester in the Mediterranean, the Summer in the Mediterranean and the Global Business Semester.

Many topics cross national boundaries and so do we - to as many as 12 countries in one semester. Nothing taught in the classroom about the European Union can replace visiting the Council of Europe and nothing taught about outsourcing can replace visiting a software firm in Bangalore.

Direct experience (in a structured co-curricular manner) is a core principle for us and we are confident that most of our students see, do and learn more in a semester abroad with us.

Operational Best Practices

Our management team has been at the forefront of operational best practices for years, both in the study abroad field, higher education in general and risk and operational management.

We are active members of NAFSA and the Forum for Education Abroad.

We bring this approach to all our programs and implement good practices relating to:

  • Enrollment advising
  • Risk management
  • Health and safety
  • Student preparedness
  • Learning objectives and intercultural competencies
  • Support for diversity
  • Ability to execute highly complex co-curricular travel experiences
  • General quality of the student experience (housing, travel, organization)
  • Overall professionalism

 

Student Learning and Development

Global Semesters develops learning objectives for each program which foster student learning and development. Assessment data is gathered and analyzed on a regular basis and utilizes the information to monitor, maintain, support, and improve student success.

Intercultural Understanding

  • Information on cultural traits of the host culture is presented in the on-site orientation, and staff demonstrate respect for differences in customs and values.
  • Opportunities for students to integrate into the host culture exist through student clubs and activities, community organizations, and internships and volunteer placements.
  • Program alumni report on the way in which the program helped them learn adaptive behaviors for diverse work settings.

Academic Growth

  • Global Semesters students enroll in courses that progress student toward their degree requirements.
  • Courses utilize the relevant resources of the local/host culture to teach the subject matter.
  • Syllabi and/or course outlines are readily available or sought when requested.
  • Course pre-requisites are clearly stated, and placement tests are administered where necessary (e.g., language courses).
  • Students are exposed to both different pedagogies and different perspectives in the classroom.
  • Academic achievement is measured against the learning objectives stated for each course.

Student Development

  • Students have opportunities for skill development (e.g., leadership, maturity, adaptability to diverse work environments) outside the classroom in activities such as volunteering, student clubs, community organizations, or internships.
  • Students are encouraged to establish personal goals for their learning (academic, language, cultural) and development.
  • Students are asked to reflect and report on their personal growth upon completion of the program.
  • Resident staff both challenge and encourage students to become more independent and self-motivated through their daily interaction and in various meetings and events.

Language and Communication

  • We encourage the development of language and/or intercultural communication skills.
  • In language courses, students are given a placement test to help determine the appropriate language level.
  • The language curriculum includes information on cultural norms, values, and etiquette.
  • Students are advised on differences in the academic systems and offered ongoing academic advising and support.
  • Program activities provide an opportunity for students to use the host language.

 

Academic Framework

All of our study abroad programs are first-and-foremost academic experiences. Because we are very passionate about the value of developing international awareness and intercultural competencies, we make sure that our programs utilize an effective integration of traditional classroom structure and experiential education which utilizes the local resources and justifies the use of on-site education, while maintaining the high academic standards expected by U.S. accredited institutions.

Many study abroad programs include a weekend excursion or a cultural experience at some point during the experience. Few programs make travel and cultural experiences an integral part of the program. Almost all our programs include a level of educational travel that is unmatched among study abroad programs. We want to take our students outside of the classroom to experience first-hand the places, people and institutions that they are studying and work hard to make these meaningful experiences for students.

Our programs are designed to not only offer a summer or semester abroad, but a life-changing experience.

Integrated Academics

  • Because of our academic heritage, we have the expertise in-house to allow us to work closely with our accredited host institution partners to develop exclusive and unique programs that you cannot find from any other study abroad organization.
  • Our programs combine the best of both worlds - a traditional immersion experience in a host university along with extensive global, regional or local travel and intercultural experiences - to show, first hand, what is being studied in the classroom.
  • We are committed to providing a relevant educational experience to students who will influence, participate in, and shape the future of our global society. Thus, we develop programs focused on themes we believe to be evolving, dynamic and forward-thinking.
  • Though our programs distinguish themselves through their combination of travel and academics, we do not grant credit for academic or co-curricular travel.

Academic Credit

  • All of our programs are for-credit programs that are consistent with United States standards of university-level academic work.
  • The University of Nicosia is accredited by the Ministry of Education in Cyprus.  Thus, a transcript for all course work completed at the University of Nicosia is provided every students.
  • All other programs outside the Mediterranean are hosted by a degree-granting accredited university in the host country.  Thus, all participants will receive a transcript from the host university upon completion of academic work.

Academic Coursework

  • Global Semesters partners with accredited universities which offer courses accepted by U.S. institutions toward degree requirements.
  • Students are expected to obtain course articulation approvals at their home college/university before enrolling in any courses abroad.
  • All of our instructional work is conducted by qualified faculty at fully-accredited host universities.

Academic Advising & Support

  • Our students have pre-departure access to a network of advisors that can assist with applications, credit transfer approval and financing.
  • Students are expected to show transfer credit approvals for program courses by home institution upon application to the program.
  • Students receive tips on managing differences in the academic system, teaching styles, and expectations during the on-site orientation.
  • On-site staff are knowledgeable about registration and enrollment procedures in order to readily assist students.
  • Students may consult with on-site staff to seek academic advice or express concerns throughout the program duration.
  • Students have access to academic resources at the program site and/or local libraries.
  • Students have convenient access to online resources for academic purposes.

Curriculum

  • Courses offered to our study abroad / visiting students are direct course offerings from an accredited host university.
  • The curriculum engages students in critical thinking and intellectual growth.
  • The curriculum and its related activities promote student learning and development.
  • Culturally appropriate methodologies are used to instruct in each discipline.

 

Student Preparation

Pre-Departure Info

  • Information is provided to accepted students on academics, accommodation, travel arrangements, health precautions and care, safety considerations, and information on expenses and budgeting through printed materials and online resources.
  • Relevant information on passports and immigration visas is provided to students in a timely manner.
  • Students may consult with staff on questions or concerns on an ongoing basis.

On-Site Orientation

  • Global Semester On-Site Coordinators deliver a comprehensive orientation program covering academic expectations, policies, and procedures; living arrangements; behavior expectations and disciplinary policies; independent travel; and health/safety and emergency information.
  • Students are given guided opportunities in the local area to use public transportation and identify daily living resources such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc).
  • Students receive information about the local culture, including laws and customs.

Student Selection and Code of Conduct

  • We make available the information on student selection and behavioral code of conduct.
  • Global Semesters enrolls degree-seeking undergraduate students who are in good academic standing.
  • We support the study abroad admission requirements of students’ home institutions.
  • Students are directed to follow the study abroad application requirements of their home institution.
  • We review, in cooperation with the home institution, each student’s judicial record.
  • We support the academic requirements of our partner institutions abroad.
  • Eligibility requirements are clearly stated in program informational materials.
  • Where applicable, students meet the stated admissions requirements for target language study.
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

Policies & Procedures

  • Academic information is clear and accurate in print and website media.
  • Published program cost information is complete and accurate, and sound estimates are given for out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Published cancellation refund policies are clear and accurate.
  • Established scholarship funds are promoted to assist students.
  • Marketing activities follow ethical guidelines and principles.
  • Field staff demonstrate respect for institutional policy regarding campus visits and program promotion.
  • Advising practices support students’ academic and personal development.

 

Organizational and Program Resources

Faculty and Instructors

We partner with respected universities in each host country that are recognized/accredited by the host country ministry of education.

  • Faculty and instructors have appropriate credentials in the host country.
  • Faculty have the required expertise in their respective fields, together with the ability to teach and a commitment to international students.
  • Faculty are made aware of differences in learning styles and the academic requirements of U.S. colleges and universities.
  • Faculty participate in developing new courses that may be designed for international students and are approved by their respective credit-granting institution.

Administrative and Support Personnel

  • Staff hold the proper and required qualifications for their positions.
  • Staff demonstrate courtesy and respect and are committed to the best interests of the student.
  • Staff participate in professional organizations and activities related to their area of responsibilities.

Learning and Academic Support Facilities

  • Students are provided with sufficient study space.
  • Students have access to adequate library resources.
  • Students have access to adequate equipment and technologies to support their academic requirements.
  • Reasonable accommodations are provided to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities. We work with the student, the student’s home institution and our host university abroad to develop a support plan to address the needs of the student.
  • Every effort is made to accommodate students with physical challenges. Access issues are dependent on local facilities and resources.  We work with students and our local contacts to evaluate the accommodations that can be provided.
  • Facilities undergo routine maintenance and have established plans for preventative and deferred maintenance.

Student Housing

  • Students are guaranteed appropriate and secure housing.
  • Housing contracts abide by in-country laws.
  • Housing is regularly inspected.
  • Established procedures support a housing change when warranted.

 

Health, Safety, Security, and Risk Management

We are committed to the health, safety, and security of our students, faculty, and staff at every step of the program process with established policies and procedures as well as at student orientation.

Program Development

  • The overall safety and political and economic stability of a country are considerations in selection of every program site.
  • Experts in local laws are consulted regarding risk management, employment law, and other relevant certifications of staff.

Health and Safety of Students, Faculty, and Staff

  • General travel safety advice and country-specific health information is provided to students prior to departure.
  • Comprehensive insurance (medical, evacuation, cancellation) is provided to every program participant.
  • Students may request information prior to departure about managing a medical condition abroad.
  • On-site staff refer students to English-speaking medical clinics and physicians for sickness, accidents, or mental health care.
  • Staff are trained to recognize and respond to suspected mental health problems and substance abuse.
  • All students are provided with a local cellphone for emergency communications.
  • We provide students with an emergency contact card with key phone numbers of local directors, local emergency services, US support lines, the local American embassy, and emergency taxi service.

Risk Management

  • We maintain adequate corporate insurance coverage for liability and indemnification.
  • We have established criteria for our contractual agreements with outside providers for services such as transportation, housing, facilities, and technology.
  • Students must abide by the conduct code of Global Semesters and the host university.
  • Response coverage by on-site staff is available 24-hours per day on every program site.
  • We register all students with the American embassy
  • We are enrolled in OSAC (of the US State Department) and two separate corporate intelligence programs for immediate updates on emerging crisis situations
  • Students, faculty, and staff are provided information on safety and emergency procedures.
  • Students receive timely notification of local health and safety concerns.
  • Crisis management plans are reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

Housing

  • Student housing meets local health and safety requirements.
  • Student housing is located within proximity to public transportation access.
  • On-site staff manage any conflicts that occur between student and landlord.

 

Ethics & Integrity

We educate our employees on ethical behavior and adheres to a code of ethics aligned with the Forum’s Code of Ethics for Education Abroad.

  • We promote respect of the cultures and values of the countries in which we operate programs and from which it draws its student participants.
  • Students, faculty, and staff abide by the host country laws and regulations.
  • We do not discriminate in hiring or admissions on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.