271  Education Abroad

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Responsible Office:  International Affairs
Responsible Officer: Vice Provost for International Affairs

I. Purpose

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) supports off-campus international educational programs or courses as a valuable and integral part of undergraduate and graduate education. MTSU encourages participation in international opportunities that meet the legitimate academic needs of its students and in cooperation with programs internal to MTSU and those external to the University. MTSU recognizes that such programs or courses take a variety of forms in length and focus.

The purpose of this policy is to provide a clear and definite authority for decisions which must be made in regard to education abroad as it relates to the safety of the student and faculty participants.

II. Scope

This policy is intended to apply to the education abroad courses planned and conducted by faculty and staff of MTSU. It is not intended to supersede the safety cancellation policy of an education abroad consortium, in which students from MTSU may be participants. It does not pertain to MTSU Signature Programs.

III. Introduction

A.  All international education programs or courses sponsored or approved for academic credit by MTSU are required to maintain standards of quality in the delivery of instruction, support services, and administration which are consistent with educational excellence.

B.  In general, programs or courses operated or sponsored by, or in combination with, MTSU abroad shall be:

1.  Within the scope of the mission of the University;

2.  Integrated into the undergraduate and/or graduate curricula;

3.  Financially sustainable;

4.  Subject to regular, periodic evaluation and assessment according to the University's normal review procedures for academic programs; and

5.  In compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.

C.  In addition, programs or courses operated or sponsored by other institutions with which MTSU participates shall adhere to the specific policies listed below.

D.  All consortia in which MTSU participates must develop structures for international education programs or courses to be approved by MTSU through the home institution. Memorandums of understanding or agreement require approval of the Provost, President, or designee.

IV. Types of Programs

MTSU sponsors and administers its own international programs and/or courses, or participates in partnerships with international institutions or consortia, to offer opportunities for global study to its students.

A.  MTSU enrolls full-time MTSU students and awards credit to these students for international education programs or courses.

B.  MTSU accepts international transfer credit from institutions recognized by their country’s ministry of education or U.S. accredited schools of record.

V. Defining Roles

Individuals who are approved to participate in, and travel with, international education programs sponsored by MTSU include enrolled students, program directors, group leaders, and other faculty or staff from the University.

VI. Safety and Welfare of Participants

A.  Safety Considerations Involving Travel

1.  MTSU reserves the right to limit travel to countries or portions of countries where the U. S. Department of State currently advises against travel or tourism by Americans.

2.  MTSU may further restrict travel where the U.S. Department of State or other credible authority has identified safety risks.

3.  Upon notice/warning from the U.S. Department of State or other relevant authority, the below referenced administrative officials shall have the final decision on whether to cancel, terminate, postpone, limit, or continue an education abroad program. The decision shall be made in consultation with the program director/faculty member, International Education and Exchange Committee, Department Chair, Dean, and Provost. The Vice Provost for International Affairs and the Provost shall make the final decision.

B.  Emergency Response Plan

1.  All MTSU education abroad programs must have emergency response plans in place for international programs to facilitate swift action by program directors, faculty, and students in the event of emergencies affecting multiple participants, the entire program (natural or human disasters such as earthquake, flood, hurricane, fire, nuclear incident, political/civil unrest, terrorist activity, or threat), assault (physical or sexual), health or psychiatric emergencies, missing participants, arrest, death, and incapacitated program directors.

2.  All program directors must be trained on emergency and crisis management procedures by the Office of International Affairs and the Office of Education Abroad.

C.  Information to be Provided to Students. MTSU will inform participants who enroll in MTSU education abroad programs that it:

1.  Cannot guarantee or assure the safety of participants or eliminate all risks from the international education environments.

2.  Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of individual participants.

3.  Cannot assure that U.S. standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants.

4.  Cannot assume responsibility for the actions of persons not employed or otherwise engaged by the program sponsor for events that are not part of the program or that are beyond the control of the program sponsor or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.

5.  Cannot assure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.

6.  Cannot assure that U.S. standards of hygiene, medical practice, and food and product safety will apply in the host country.

D.  Insurance Coverage. MTSU is responsible for informing approved participants about the coverage, availability, mandatory purchase of accident and health insurance, and medical evacuation and repatriation insurance prior to departure for any MTSU approved education abroad program.

E.  Students with Disabilities

1.  MTSU shall attempt to work with institutions abroad to provide reasonable access for students with disabilities.

2.  MTSU shall inform students that it cannot, however, guarantee any particular access.

F.  Student Conduct and Discipline

1.  MTSU policies regarding student conduct apply to all MTSU students registered for credit regardless of their attendance at the MTSU campus in Tennessee or while participating in an approved education abroad program.

2.  All participants, whether enrolled for credit or not, must attend a program pre-departure and on-site orientation, including emergency contact information and repatriation information, including issues relevant to the culture, social, and health conditions of the host country, in addition to information about registration, fee payment, and reenrollment, as appropriate.

3.  All international education programs must brief program participants regarding student conduct expectations including, but not limited to, alcohol and drug use, visitation, prohibited locations, and abuse of laws and customs of the country to be visited.

4.  A student’s removal from an international program may be conducted in accordance with Policy 540 Student Conduct and/or the host institution policies on student conduct, whichever is more conservative in keeping with Policy 540 Student Conduct. Students should become familiar with the host institution’s policies governing student conduct, and a discussion of such policies should be a part of the student’s orientation session.

G.  Academic and Logistical Program Assessment. MTSU will assess both academic and logistical aspects of education abroad programs which they operate or sponsor.

H.  Media Inquiries

1.  MTSU will establish policies for media inquiries regarding any incident involving MTSU faculty, staff, or students involved in any MTSU approved education abroad experience.

2.  MTSU Education Abroad policies require that the Vice Provost for International Affairs consult with the Provost and/or legal counsel regarding the release of student information on student records in accordance with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

VIIEstablishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

Contracting with Institutions Abroad

A.  MTSU has established procedures for the contracting with potential institutions abroad, including appropriate legal review.

B.  Partner universities may be proposed by anyone in the institution but the decision to pursue a formal agreement with any institution abroad must be supported by the Provost and the President, or designee. Such agreements must be processed through MT$ource and fully executed prior to implementation

VIII. Host Country Consideration

To promote the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, no restrictions shall be placed on the establishment or maintenance of programs in other countries based on the political, religious, racial, ethnic, or ideological characteristics of a host country or its government.

IX. Financial Management

A.  Employee Compensation/Benefits provided by Program Abroad. A program shall provide, upon request, disclosure of any benefits provided to any employee of MTSU which are paid for or subsidized by participant fees or secured from any vendor that is providing services to students.

B.  Emergency Reserve/Contingency Fund. MTSU shall maintain a reserve/contingency fund deemed adequate in response to the international activity level in order to respond to emergencies and unforeseen problems of students, faculty, and staff engaged in MTSU sponsored or supported education abroad programs or courses.

C.  Contracting-Legal Review

1.  MTSU will exercise reasonable care in contracting with any institution or entity associated with international education/travel programs to ensure compliance with MTSU policies and promote the best interests of the students and the State of Tennessee.

2.  All contracts must conform to Tennessee state law and MTSU policy, including legal review.

3.  Contracting issues shall be discussed at orientation sessions offered to faculty, staff, and students.

D.  Fiscal, Management and Educational Standards. MTSU has fiscal, risk management and educational standards for international education abroad programs whether offered by the University, direct exchange, a third party provider, or through consortia.

MTSU will make appropriate arrangements to use existing accounting and reporting procedures for all education abroad travel for program directors.

X. Program and Course Evaluation

A.  Evaluations are required for individual courses and for all international education programs to determine the continued academic value and student satisfaction of each program.

B.  At a minimum, the program evaluation must include perceived strengths and weaknesses, the projected and actual costs of the program, program enhancements or improvements needed, strategies for improvement and lessons learned that can be a good tool for future program directors or faculty leaders.

C.  The evaluation should include student assessments, as appropriate, as well as a full evaluation completed by the program director or faculty leader.

Forms: none.

Revisions: none.

Last Reviewed: November 2020.

References: Policy 540 Student Conduct.