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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Development & Operation of Off-Campus International Educational Programs : A-076

Policy/Guideline Area

Academic Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

Community Colleges


The purpose of this guideline is to establish the operational guidelines for the Development and Operation of Off-Campus International Educational Programs by institutions governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.


  1. Introduction
    1. Each institution that participates in any international educational program shall adopt policies and procedures consistent with the good practice standards as established through the Forum on Education Abroad, recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as the Standards Development Organization for Education Abroad.
    2. Best practices
      1. The TBR is committed to having our institutions identify and adopt relevant good practices which can assist our institutions in enhancing and improving their education abroad activities and processes including:
        1. undertake reasonable steps to be informed of and comply with applicable laws both at home and in the host country;
        2. avoid arrangements which might violate those laws or accepted business practices of the U.S. or host country;
        3. establish and maintain reasonably safe and non-discriminatory, work, study and living conditions for employees and students;
        4. communicate clearly with students the anticipated environmental conditions of the location abroad;
        5. make available current policies, procedures and job descriptions;
        6. exercise due diligence in cost control and adopting clear and reasonable billing procedures for participants;
        7. establish transparent protocols for data collected;
        8. maintain sufficient financial resources to meet obligations and exigencies for unanticipated obligations;
        9. enforce research including human subject research protocols and those of the host country in accordance with standards outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services and National Institutes of Health;
        10. engage in continuous improvement;
        11. emphasize academic integrity within the international education experience;
        12. manage all provider arrangements for oversight and evaluation; and
        13. follow the established US Import/Export Guidelines.
  2. Types of Programs & Program Documentation
    1. Courses for academic credit, hosted abroad, should provide academic learning opportunities appropriate to the mission of the program and that align to courses in a student’s area of study or which meet general education requirements.
    2. Institutions may opt to have their students engage in any of the following types of education abroad:
      1. Institutional or campus administered programs led by institutional faculty including course-embedded study abroad, service–learning, or internships.
        1. Service-learning abroad or community-engaged learning combines structured participation in a community–based project to achieve specified learning outcomes as part of the study abroad program.
        2. Service learning is not the equivalent of civic engagement.
        3. Determination of service learning activities should be mindful of the culture and politics of the location in which the program in offered.
      2. Programs where the institution maintains a central office or facility in another country which is staffed by a resident director and is under close supervision and the TBR institution which awards credit.
      3. International branch campuses.
      4. Reciprocal exchange programs which are bilateral or multilateral exchanges.
        1. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a document signifying the mutual interest in the development of collaborative educational activities related to instruction, research, and extension between units at cooperating institutions. No financial or legal obligations are incurred with an MOU. It is often the preliminary step to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
        2. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is a contract between units at cooperating institutions to develop collaborative activities related to instruction, research, and/or extension and thus, establishes the parameters for student exchanges between two institutions.
        3. All collaborations involving either a memorandum of agreement through which a TBR institution agrees to work with a non-TBR institution, whether domestic or international, must be vetted through the General Counsel’s Office either on the individual campus or through the TBR System Office.
      5. Direct enrollment in institutions outside the United States.
      6. Consortia sponsored programs including programs sponsored through the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies (TnCIS).
      7. Programs sponsored by American universities and colleges overseas.
      8. Hybrid or mixed programs which combine two or more of the program types to a significant degree, or
    3. Programs contracted with a third party vendor or independent program provider.
      1. Institutions should use the services of third party or independent program providers, which offer education abroad program services to students from multiple institutions within and outside of the TBR, with caution.
      2. Institutions maintain liability for the welfare of students enrolled in their institutions while they are engaged in study abroad provided through a third party program provider.
    4. All institutions including the TnCIS must establish guidelines for operation of international programs.
      1. Institutions engaged in any international activities which are not coordinated through the TnCIS must establish international policies or guidelines for the individual institution and submit them annually to the TBR Office of Academic Affairs.
      2. Institutions may adopt the policies and procedures embraced through TnCIS as a whole, if the institution engages solely in TnCIS study abroad programs.
      3. All policies and procedures established by institutions must be vetted through the appropriate institutional channels including the TBR Office of General Counsel, as applicable.
      4. The TnCIS protocols and guidelines must be vetted through the TBR Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs or designee as well as the TBR General Counsel.
  3. Defining Roles within Study Abroad Programs
    1. Individuals approved for participation in, and travel with international programs sponsored by TBR institutions including the TnCIS programs consist of the following categories:
      1. Participants
        1. Individual institutions should establish guidelines to determine the required preparation necessary for a student to participate in the desired international experience (e.g., GPA, tenure in academic program, academic preparedness, and contributions to the program of study). The TnCIS will employ institutional guidelines and notify individual institutions if they are not in compliance with the guidelines.
        2. In keeping with best practices, only individuals enrolled in a TBR institution may participate in study abroad programs.
        3. Students enrolled in TBR institutions must be registered at their home institutions in order to participate in international study courses if the course is sponsored by their home institution or by another institution within the TBR system.
        4. Individuals who are students at non-TBR institutions or are not students at any institution of higher education must enroll in a TBR institution under “Non-Degree” or “Continuing Education” or “Transient” or “Transfer” student status for the duration of the international education experience. Enrolling in one of these classifications requires that these individuals meet all qualifications, prerequisites, and requirements for selection as a participant in an international education program, participate in all orientation meetings, and pay all tuition and fees to the sponsoring TBR institution.
        5. Students from non-TBR schools who elect to participate in TBR institution-sponsored international education programs as fulltime transfer students are responsible for transferring credit back to their home institutions.
      2. Program Directors and Group Leaders
        1. These are TBR employees who administratively lead and/or teach international education experiences, including individuals outside the institution and those employed at another higher education institution outside the TBR system, who serve in the role of Program Director or Group Leader. Program directors and group leaders, including faculty directing and teaching in the TnCIS programs, must have their role defined and documented by the unit sponsoring the program. This documentation must be on file with the TBR Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.
        2. Program directors serve as institutional representatives and as such must maintain current certification as a Study Abroad Leader though the TBR Office of Academic Affairs, the individual institutional training, or the TnCIS study abroad training programs. Individual faculty are responsible for providing documentation of qualifications at the time of application to offer a study abroad program at individual institutions or through the TnCIS.
        3. All program directors of institutionally sponsored trips must create a campus appropriate training structure and implement institutional assessment guidelines for the completion of such training prior to faculty leading a trip.
        4. Faculty compensation for international educational programs is not subject to Policy No. 5:02:04:10 Faculty Compensation During Summer Session and Inter-session. Faculty teaching for the TnCIS  must submit their academic credentials to Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC) and be appointed as an adjunct faculty member at PSCC.
      3. Faculty Instructors
        1. Faculty who are teaching the international course, but may not be the designated program director, must have their role defined and documented by the unit sponsoring the program.
      4. Accompanying Spouses and Minors
        1. In cases where a program director or faculty instructor will be traveling abroad for an extended period of time (more than 30 days), it is left to the discretion of the home institution as to whether to allow spouses and minors to travel with the employee.
        2. Spouses and minor children, if allowed to participate, cannot impair the operation or administration of the program, or otherwise infringe on the participants, or incorporate any of their expenses into the program budget.
        3. Spouses and minor children, if allowed to participate, must complete an Assumption of Risk form for the program, consortia (if relevant) and TBR institutions prior to departure.
  4. Safety and Welfare
    1. Faculty and staff directing and teaching in study abroad programs should be trained in the liabilities of the responsibilities accompanying their role when not on U.S. soil.
    2. Institutions should have operational policies and procedures in place for faculty leading international education experiences to refer to as needed which include:
      1. Health and safety, insurance, payments of health care expenses when abroad, contact information for medical assistance in the area(s) in which the program is in operation;
      2. Crisis management and response;
      3. Disciplinary actions ranging from reporting to expulsion; and
      4. Student appeals.
    3. In case of medical emergency, program directors should take reasonable action on behalf of the student participant.
    4. Crisis Response Plans
      1. All institutions that direct study abroad programs should have a detailed critical response protocol in place to address emergencies.
        1. Institutions offering campus based international educational experiences, as well as the TnCIS based programs, must ensure that all program directors, faculty and students receive clear training on how any crisis is to be handled.
      2. Institutions must establish a clear, written reporting chain with identified contact person(s) on the campus to which all incidents and potential actions to take within a crisis situation is reported.
        1. All incidents should be reported at the earliest possible time.
        2. Program directors for international study courses should have clear guidelines with relevant contact information for airlines, insurance and medical personnel in the event of a crisis including the need to evacuate.
      3. A copy of the institution’s crisis response plan should be on file with the Office of Academic Affairs by April 1 of each year.
      4. Institutions are expected to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act).
        1. Each institution must develop a policy for compliance with the Clery Act regarding all international programs.
        2. At a minimum, each institutional policy must require that each program designate an individual responsible for complying with the Clery Act.
        3. For programs managed by a third party or a foreign institution, where the TBR institution has control of the property, the TBR institution should designate an official to collect any crime reports.
    5. Student Rights
      1. Study Abroad programs are expected to comply with the American Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act when possible and the policy for addressing requests for accommodations should be included in the institution’s international education policy.
        1. Issues related to accessibility should be resolved after a student is accepted into an international educational experience, but before the student departs on the trip.
        2. Appropriate institutional offices including those responsible for international programs and disability services should be contacted to assist in the determination of reasonable accommodation.
      2. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
        1. Generally, institutions and their respective faculty members must have written  permission from a student in order to release information from a student’s educational record or personally identifiable information.
          1. FERPA consent includes the type of record to be disclosed, to whom the record will be released and the student’s signature.
          2. When a student turns 18 years old or enrolls in an institution of higher education at any age the rights under the FERPA transfer from the parents to the student with some exceptions which include: when a student is claimed by either parents as parent as a dependent for tax purposes; for school officials with legitimate educational interest, and; appropriate officials in the case of health and safety emergencies.
    6. Conduct and Discipline Issues
      1. Every TBR Institution engaged in a study abroad or international education program must develop a policy for addressing complaints of discrimination and harassment arising during the course of a program. Policies must be consistent with TBR Policies 3:01:00:00, 3:02:00:00, and 3:03:00:00.
        1. Faculty and staff involved in study abroad activities who receive complaints of harassment whether student-to-student, staff-to-student, student-to-staff or any other individuals for which harassment is alleged during an international education experience, must report the incident to the institution immediately.
        2. The procedure set out must provide for due process for any student accused of misconduct.
      2. Students from other institutions who participate in international study programs at any TBR institution regardless of their classification must adhere to the sponsoring institution’s student conduct rules and regulations and all rules of the international program in which they are enrolled.
      3. The Tennessee Board of Regents institutions do not tolerate harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, and any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law.
      4. Institutions have the right to take disciplinary action including expulsion of students during an international educational experience using the same guidelines and processes of action and appeal as those in place on the home campus.
      5. Due Process
        1. Campuses must establish minimum due process procedures for students who are participating in international study courses.
        2. Campus due process must be enacted consistent with TBR Policy No. 3:02:00:01, General Regulations on Student Conduct & Disciplinary Sanctions.
        3. Due process procedures must be clearly outlined in international study course materials and provided to students in pre-trip trainings.
    7. Institutional Authority
      1. International study courses have the authority to establish more stringent guidelines than those set either by the TBR or individual institutional policies regarding student conduct which might be disruptive to the program or individual participants. These may include guidelines regarding the use and abuse of drugs, alcohol, engaging in behaviors which may be culturally inappropriate in the host country, or actions that may put the student or others at risk. Students should be advised that standards of personal conduct differ from those in the United States and what is expected in a host country.
  5. Recruitment, Admission, Orientation, Participation, Program Evaluation and Re-entry
    1. TBR Office of Academic Affairs will publish on the system office website, links to international education programs offered by individual TBR institutions.
      1. All institutions and the TnCIS are responsible for notifying the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs of all international education courses regardless of the direction of the course or program to be offered at the time when schedules are confirmed.
    2. Institutions are responsible for establishing program recruitment/advising materials and/or advising which accurately represent the program and include selection criteria based on appropriate academic standards, cultural and educational objectives, estimated cost, financial aid, health insurance requirements, services provided, vaccinations, visa responsibilities and legal proceedings. Students should be informed of these issues at the time of admission.
    3. Financial Aid
      1. Due to the complexity of offering classes or programs internationally, institutions are responsible for developing appropriate implementation timelines which allow for the student to apply for financial aid.
      2. Students who are receiving financial aid are not allowed to change from credit to audit once funds have been disbursed.
    4. Orientation and Participation
      1. Individual institutions may, at their discretion, require students, faculty or staff to provide signed documentation of having received pre-travel advice and counseling, as well as relevant vaccinations, anti-malarial prophylaxis, and other medical interventions consistent with appropriate medical practice.
      2. Institutions may restrict participation in an international program for participants, program directors and group leaders, and faculty instructors determined to be at excessive medical risk.
      3. All students and faculty, whether program directors or instructional faculty, are required to have documentable medical insurance with covered medical treatment outside of U.S. borders  at a minimum of $100,000 per accident or sickness  as well as evacuation and repatriation insurance combined minimum of $50,000  in order to participate in study abroad. Institutions are encouraged to purchase group insurance to cover evacuation and repatriation on behalf of students and faculty.  (Currently, the TnCIS purchases group insurance on behalf of students and faculty engaging in TnCIS programs.)
    5. Evaluations
      1. All participants and international program leaders are expected to complete program evaluation forms to gather data on the effectiveness of recruitment, admissions, pre-departure orientation, the educational and personal value of program components while abroad, re-entry, and recommendations for continuation or termination of the trip in the future.
      2. For programs operated by the TnCIS, the TnCIS will summarize the results of the evaluations and forward a summary to all campuses with enrolled students in order for facilitate data-based decision-making on each campus.
      3. For all non-TnCIS international engagements, institutions must conduct their own evaluations for inclusion in campus planning of internationalization activities.
  6. Financial Management
    1. Financial procedures for international educational programs
      1. Each institution is responsible for the charging of tuition and fees, receipt of student payments, administering financial aid, registration and reporting of grades in the same manner as domestic programs.
      2. Institutions should not charge Maintenance Fee for students enrolled in TnCIS study abroad programs.
    2. Institutions must make appropriate arrangements to use existing accounting and reporting procedures (if available) for all international travel by program directors or group leaders to cover expenses abroad. Through the use of an institutional credit card, advanced money or other means, expenses abroad related to housing, food, excursions and incidental expenses as outlined in the international education program contract should be arranged for in advance.
    3. Viability of International Educational Programs
      1. International education activities at all TBR institutions as well as the TnCIS are expected to be financially self-sustaining over time and to be accountable to good financial management practices.
      2. Individual Institutions shall establish an evaluation for individual courses and for all international education programs to determine the continued academic value and financial viability of each program annually.
    4. International Fee Usage
      1. Recognizing the need for flexibility while maintaining accountability, the TBR has established the optional assessment of an international fee to be paid by each student enrolled in the institutions.
      2. Individual institutions have authority to allocate funds to activities in support of globalization efforts for the campus, including international professional development of the faculty.
        1. Salaries for faculty not engaged in directly providing international programs or courses are not acceptable.
        2. Institutions should use a portion of the revenue generated through the internationalization fee for study abroad scholarships.
      3. Individual institutions are responsible for establishing an infrastructure to determine the allocation of the international fees collected from students to promote internationalization at the home institution. The infrastructure should include student representation or input received from the entire study body.
    5. Faculty Compensation
      1. Salaries for faculty engaged in directing or teaching study abroad courses receives remuneration from their home institutions.
        1. Faculty compensation of summer session and inter-session international educational programs whether campus-based or operated through the TnCIS are not subject to Policy 5:02:04:10 Faculty Compensation During Summer Session and Inter-sessions.
        2. Faculty teaching or directing study abroad courses on behalf of the TnCIS must submit an Adjunct Faculty Contract and a travel authorization form at their home institution, which will be forwarded to the TnCIS Office by the home institution.
        3. For non-PSCC faculty, the TnCIS will process the contact through the PSCC Accounting Office, which will issue a Dual Services Agreement to the faculty member’s home institutions along with a purchase order.
        4. Institutions will invoice PSCC for the services to receive reimbursement for paying the faculty members directly for their service.
      2. Faculty are expected to follow through on the agreed upon international study course and adhere to all institutional policies once abroad. In the event that a faculty member cancels their participation in the trip or is directed to return from a trip due to failure to follow institutional policies, the faculty member will be charged for any travel costs assumed by the institution in advance of the trip or the faculty member will be held responsible for costs associated with their return home.
  7. Use of Technology Abroad
    1. The TBR requires that its institutions fully comply with federal regulations that control the conditions under which certain information, technologies and commodities can be exported to a foreign country, person, or entity, including U.S. citizens in a foreign country.
      1. Institutions are responsible for implementing export control procedures to determine whether an activity is covered under export control regulations, whether the  U.S. Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) 22 CFR §120-130,  U. S. Department of Commerce’s Export Administration regulations (EAR) 15 CFR § 734-774 or the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) 31 CFR §500-599.
      2. All faculty, staff, or students involved in international travel including study abroad, restricted research, international collaborations, or foreign exchanges that risk export or violation of the regulations must comply with the provisions of any license (or other governmental approval), policy, procedure, or campus based Technology Control Plan (TCP) as required by ITAR.  Before traveling internationally, faculty/staff/students should determine whether any item, device, component, or document is covered by ITAR and/or requires a license or other government approval/agreement for export or import as defined in those regulations. Where unsure, faculty/staff/students should consult with their general counsel’s office or institutional research office.
      3. Institutions are responsible for determining if self-disclosure of any violations, real or perceived, of the expert control regulations or TCP occurs during the courses of the sponsored activity to the federal agency is required.



T.C.A. § 49-8-203; All State and Federal statutes, codes, Acts, rules and regulations referenced in this procedure.


Presidents Meeting February 17, 2009; Revised at Presidents Meeting August 18, 2015.