What is it?
Study abroad refers to a broad range of credit-granting programs, courses and learning experiences that take place internationally. Because study abroad takes places outside of Canada, special considerations need to be made:
- transfer credit,
- pre-departure and re-entry sessions, and
- the development of international partnership agreements (in many cases).
The learning value of study abroad depends to a great extent upon
- well-guided student self-reflection on their experience,
- relevance of the experience to a student’s degree,
- major or career aspirations,
- the depth of foreign language and/or inter-cultural immersion, and
- the length of the program (including preparation and re-entry).
The options for studying abroad are increasing on a global scale. These options include a variety of types of experiential learning, and they occur outside of Canada. Thus, community-service learning, undergraduate research, internships and practica, and fieldwork that take place internationally fall under the term study abroad.
Types of study and courses abroad are:International reciprocal student exchange programs.
- Programs that involve international partnership agreements with partner institutions in another country.
- Students from the home and host institution nominate, select and send students (pre-specified number) to attend each partner institution for up to three terms (1 year).
- Students take courses at the host institution through pre-approved “Learning Agreements”.
- Student pay tuition at their home institution and tuition is waived at their host institution.
- Programs that involve international partnership agreements with partner institutions.
- There is no expected reciprocity between institutions.
- The courses that students take at the host institution are pre-approved by the home institution and typically appear on the student’s transcript with grades.
- Often, these programs are tied to a department’s course offerings to augment the curriculum options, usually in the area of language and culture.
- These programs usually last anywhere between 2 and 4 months and can be taken during fall, winter or spring/summer sessions, depending on the host institution’s program schedule.
- Students pay tuition and fees to the host institution.
- Typically 3 to 6 credit courses that are developed and/or taught by home institution faculty or university lecturers at a location outside of Canada.
- The students taking taught abroad courses pay for the full program in advance to the home institution, including tuition, in-country travel, accommodations and activity-related fees, etc.
- Integrated into the department or college course offerings and students are graded by the home institution instructor.
- These courses can include pre-departure and post-trip learning activities.
- Typically, taught abroad courses are related to a specific discipline and may involve some form of fieldwork.
Why would I include it in my teaching?
The inclusion of study abroad in a program or course of study has many perceived benefits:
- Study abroad provides the opportunity for students to experience their discipline-specific interests in contexts that broaden their knowledge and skills. For example, students in environmental science can take courses in sustainable development in Sweden, students in business can take courses in European banking practices in France, or faculty who teach engineering physics can introduce students to using state of the art research facilities in Japan.
- Through well-guided cultural and foreign language immersion (where relevant), it has been shown that students on study abroad programs can develop upon their cross-cultural communication skills and intercultural competencies. In the global economy, these are valuable skills for university graduates to have.
- It has been argued that study abroad can provide student learning experiences that foster an understanding of, and commitment to, global citizenship.
Integrating study abroad requires a relatively high degree of advance planning in order to be successful. This includes the integration of high impact teaching and learning methods associated with the type of experiential learning of the study abroad program (i.e. international community service-learning, fieldwork or undergraduate research).
Due to the international dimension of study abroad, advance planning also includes:
- site selection
- program cost
- safety planning
- transfer credit
- partnership relationship (if relevant).
If a faculty member or department is proposing a new course taught abroad, or a new term abroad program, college course approval procedures need to be followed. For courses taught abroad, this approval usually includes a detailed budget framework for the program.
Where programs involve an international partner in a substantive way, a Memorandum of Understanding needs to be signed by both institutions and is usually signed at the U of S by the VP Academic and Provost. This process is handled through the International Office at the University of Saskatchewan.
As per university policy, faculty or staff leading programs that involve student mobility internationally must create a risk planning record, and all students who are participating must complete specific pre-departure requirements. This includes tasks associated with the University Saskatchewan’s International Travel Registry (ITR) for students. The purpose of these requirements is to protect the safety and security of students. This includes among other aspects, site selection approval, based on the Government of Canada’s Travel Advisories, due diligence in the signing of waivers and releases, and explanation of emergency response procedures (including provision of emergency contact cards).
How do I propose a study abroad program?
For faculty proposing a University of Saskatchewan study abroad program with or without the use of an outside contractor, the process should be initiated at least 18 months in advance of the proposed program start date.
There are a variety of funding and support options for experiential learning approaches at the University of Saskatchewan.
Program development resources
- National Field Staff Association (US-based) website with resources for study abroad program development and implementation: http://www.nafsa.org/Find_Resources/Supporting_Study_Abroad/
- Global Perspectives Inventory (student learning assessment): https://gpi.central.edu/index.cfm
- Intercultural Development Inventory (student learning assessment): http://www.idiinventory.com/
International travel risk management resources
- Travel advisory and advice from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade: http://travel.gc.ca
- Safety Abroad First – Education Travel Information (SAFETI) website (US-based): http://www.globaled.us/safeti/
Training and professional associations
- Canadian Bureau for International Education (applied research, international opportunities, annual conference): http://www.cbie-bcei.ca/products-page/cbie_series/
- Queen’s University International Centre International Educators’ Training Program (IETP): https://quic.queensu.ca/training/ietpnew.asp
- Brewer, E. & Cunningham, K. (Eds.) (2009). Integrating study abroad into the curriculum: Theory and practice across the disciplines. Sterling, VA: Stylus Press.
- Lewin, R. (Ed.) (2009). The handbook of practice and research in study abroad: Higher education and the quest for global citizenship.
- Mitchell, L. & Myles, W. (2009). Risk sense: Developing and managing international education activities with risk in mind. Guelph, ON: University of Guelph.
- Trilokekar, R., Jones, G., & Shubert, A. (Eds). (2009). Canada’s universities go global. Toronto, ON: James Lorimer & Company.
- Rhodes, G., Biscarra, A., Loberg, L. & Roller, K. (2012). Study abroad as a collective endeavour. About campus, 2-10.
- Shultz, L., Abdi, A. & Richardson, G. (Eds). (2011). Global citizenship education in post-secondary institutions: Theories, practices, policies. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
- Vande Berg, M. (Ed.) (2012). Student learning abroad: What our students are learning, what they’re not, and what we can do about it. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.