The University of Iowa

Program Director Involvement in the Pre-Departure Process

As program structures vary, the role of the Faculty Director in the pre-departure process will also vary a great deal from program to program. Some directors are actively involved in planning minute details and even selecting and establishing a new program site. Other directors may not assume responsibilities related to the program until shortly before the group arrives in-country.

At a minimum, it is helpful if students have some access to the Faculty Director via email prior to the start of the program to establish rapport. For programs that take a relatively small group of Iowa students abroad, an in-person pre-departure meeting with the Faculty Director may be beneficial. Due to study abroad consortial agreements and other special arrangements between the UI Study Abroad office and other campuses, students from other universities who will never set foot on the Iowa campus may attend an Iowa program abroad. Faculty Directors should discuss this variable and how it impacts their program’s pre-departure process with their Study Abroad staff contact.

The staff contact in Study Abroad can give specific details about the level of involvement that will be needed from the Faculty Director prior to the start of the program. Likely areas of involvement for a director prior to the start of a program include: answering program-specific student questions that Study Abroad staff can not answer, addressing academic issues and assisting with academic planning, assisting in program promotion; contributing to decision-making regarding program excursions and activities, and contributing to the discussion of budgetary needs before a student program fee is set by the Study Abroad office.

A variety of “behind the scenes” preparations will take place, generally without the involvement of the Faculty Director, who is not expected to learn all of these administrative details. Questions related to the following are therefore best referred to Study Abroad staff: program cost, the submission of acceptance materials, pre-departure processes, billing, registration, transfer of credits, scholarships, disability accommodations, and group flight arrangements. Arrangements for all of the above will vary from program to program, and even within any given program the arrangements may vary quite a bit. For example, a program that includes UI students as well as students from other universities may require a variety of billing arrangements, and the actual cost for studying abroad may vary based on home-campus fee requirements or special agreements between sending and receiving universities.  

Even small, short-term programs will require students to fill out a bit of paperwork. After applicants are accepted, they are asked to complete a set of acceptance materials, including written confirmation of their participation and medical and health insurance information. Additionally, students are provided with pre-departure materials and may be asked to complete some forms related to housing, travel, admission, registration, grade reporting, etc.

All regularly-enrolled University of Iowa students are invited to “TIPS”, a pre-departure session held each semester for students preparing to go abroad. A general study abroad handbook is distributed. Well-established programs may also have a program-specific pre-departure handbook available. Many programs will also offer a program-specific orientation on campus prior to departure; the Faculty Director's participation in this type of orientation is critical.

Copies of acceptance and pre-departure paperwork and handbooks for Iowa-administered programs are often available on the program's web page. Otherwise, all materials can be requested for your reference from the Study Abroad office.