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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

IC changes short-term study abroad requirements

Beginning this semester, Ithaca College faculty and staff looking to organize short-term study abroad programs for students will have to go through the Office of International Programs. This means students will be required to use a college-recommended health-care plan, attend a mandatory orientation session before the trip and have two college leaders per traveling group.Faculty and staff will be required to go through OIP and follow standard regulations, eligibility criteria and requirements, such as the compulsory orientation session for traveling students. Students will be automatically enrolled in a comprehensive international health insurance plan. The plan costs $47.44 per month. Faculty and staff will also be required to submit proposals for study abroad programs 15 months ahead of time. The previous time required was 12 months.Tanya Saunders, assistant provost for international programs and special projects, said the requirements were updated because of a possible future increase in the number of these short-term programs.

“As part of IC 20/20, we want more opportunities for our students to have international experiences that are tied to the on-campus curriculum and to on-campus learning initiatives,” she said. “We knew that if we were going to have a significant increase in such opportunities, we will need to have policies and procedures in place that we could consistently apply in reviewing all of these opportunities.”

In the past, Saunders said, staff and faculty trying to plan trips with students sometimes worked with other campus offices like a dean’s office. Sometimes they p

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Tanya Saunders

lanned their trips independently.

Saunders said consolidation was therefore a key reason behind the change in requirements.

“We wanted to be consistent so that we feel comfortable first that we know where students are going with our faculty and staff,” she said.

Rachel Cullenen, director of study abroad, said these changes will not affect the procedures surrounding the application process for study abroad programs for students.

“It’s only about faculty or staff who want to take students abroad and the deadlines involved in how they go about proposing those programs and institutionalizing the fact that they all need to work with the Office of International Programs,” she said.

However, Susan Allen-Gil, professor of environmental studies and science and member of the International Travel Policy Committee at the college, said requiring faculty and staff to plan trips through OIP means students may face higher costs in travel.

She said two college leaders are now required to travel with every group regardless of its size for liability reasons. This was previously not a requirement for those going through other departments. This, in addition to the college-recommended health insurance plan when going through the OIP, she said, drives up the cost for students.

“What the college is grappling with — at least in my personal experience — is trying to figure out how to balance experienced learning with the inherent risk that goes along with it,” she said.

However, before this requirement was made official by the provost, most faculty and staff taking students abroad had been going through OIP already, Cullenen said.

Steve TenEyck, associate professor and associate chair of theater arts, was one of seven college employees to conduct a short-term study abroad program this summer.

TenEyck said the department has been conducting such programs for the past 12 years, and all of them have been coordinated with OIP and the Ithaca College London Center.

Despite sustained interest in such programs at the college, Cullenen said there has been a decline in the number of short-term study abroad sessions over the past few summers.

Cullenen said while summers used to have 10 to 12 programs in the past, the number has decreased to six to eight programs per summer.

“The last couple of summers the numbers have been down because of the economy, primarily,” she said. “Students haven’t been able to afford to go abroad in the summer.”

Programs in countries such as the the U.K., Italy, Ghana, Turkey and Malawi have consistently been among the top destinations for study abroad at the college, Cullenen said. While interest stems from all five schools on campus, the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance has organized a larger number of study abroad programs.