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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Non-Credit Service and Internship Experiences Abroad : S-040

Policy/Guideline Area

Student Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges


The purpose of this guideline is to establish the operational procedures for student participation in non­ credit service or internship experiences abroad, which are sponsored by institutions governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.


  1. Types of Programs
    1. Institutions may opt to have their students engage in any of the following types of non-credit bearing experiences abroad:
      1. Volunteer or service programs - placements a broad in which the primary emphasis of the trip is for students to engage with the local community in a structured, unpaid capacity, but with a cultural focus. The activity of a volunteer or service program is designed to fill needs present in the on-site community, and should be developed based on an analysis of host/sponsoring entity's community  needs.
      2. Internship programs abroad - provide professional experience with a primary emphasis that is educational,but with a cultural focus. Internships provide students opportunities to gain skills and content area knowledge while immersed in a professional or work context. The practical learning enhances, but may not be necessary to, the student's academic degree or future career or educational goals. The experience may be paid or unpaid,full-time or part-time.
    2. Program sponsors may be:
      1. Faculty
      2. Institutionally recognized student organizations.
      3. Student support services office or academic department.
      4. Sponsoring entity - organization where the student will be placed to do internship or service experience. This would include any non-profit organizations, business or associations located abroad who agree to host the student(s).
  2. Defining Roles
    1. Participants
      1. Students currently enrolled in TBR institutions.
      2. Faculty or staff employed by the institution serving in an advisory or coordinating capacity to the student or student group while abroad.
      3. Community partnering organization members who serve a coordinating or mentoring role to students engaged in the experience. In such instances, the community  partner members must be registered as a volunteer with the institution.
    2. Group Leaders
      1. Student leaders for an institutionally recognized student organization coordinating the experience for a group of students.
      2. Faculty or staff employed by the institution serving in an advisory or coordinating capacity to the student or student group.
  3. Student Outreach, Placement, Training, and Supervision
    1. Prior to a sponsor recruiting students to participate, institutions should review and approve the following information submitted by the sponsor during the planning stage:
      1. Name and description of the sponsoring entity, and its context (cultural,economic, community);
      2. Scope and nature of the assigned responsibilities;
      3. Responsibilities of the home institution or host organization, the sponsoring entity, and the student;
      4. Primary contact on-site;
      5. Required time commitment (hours per day, number of weeks);
      6. Requirements and competencies that will impact the student's success in the experience;
      7. Expectations of professionalism and appropriate conduct;
      8. Expectations of the student's obligation to act within the limits of their knowledge and competencies, and within the role prescribed for them;
      9. Learning objectives for internship and job experiences; and
      10. Any other institutional policies and procedures that govern travel abroad or student travel.
    2. Prior to signing up to participate in the experience, students should receive communication with the following information:
      1. Accurate description of the program, housing options, and any associated additional costs;
      2. Accurate description of the distance between the location where volunteer, internship, or work experiences will take place and student housing and available transportation and cost;
      3. Deadlines and timetables for placement, application, interviews, confirmation of placement, start and end dates; and
      4. Learning objectives and requirements for student participation.
    3. In advising or supervising students who travel abroad in non-credit bearing experiences, the institution should ensure that:
      1. Faculty/staff working with the program are effectively trained to oversee, monitor, and maintain ongoing communication with the student(s);
      2. The institution maintains open channels of communication throughout the experience with the advisor,the sponsoring entity, and the student(s);
      3. There is a mechanism for filing grievances or complaints;
      4. There is an emergency plan in place for the student(s) while abroad, including appropriate emergency  contact information for the student(s) and sponsoring entity, secondary contact information, and emergency contact information that can be shared with the student's designated family members;
      5. There is a clear distinction between the learning role and the work or service role of the student{s), and that the sponsoring entity is prepared to anticipate or navigate any conflicts that might arise between these roles;
      6. The overseas environment of the sponsoring entity is safe and non-threatening. Program sponsors are responsible for assuring that all State Department Travel and Health Advisories have been shared with participants. If the State Department advisory includes language stating "avoid travel," then the sponsoring entity should not travel to that location; and
      7. The student{s) are adequately supervised and supported.
  4. Health, Safety, Security, and Risk Management
    1. All student organization travel must adhere to TBR Policy 4:03:03:50.
    2. Program sponsors should provide clear information on any potential health and safety risks specific to the context in which the students will be working, including, but not limited to CDC travel notices.
    3. Program sponsors should review relevant individual health information prior to the arrival on site, to identify any special considerations  or accommodations that might need to be taken into account.
    4. Program sponsors should clearly articulate policies and practices that protect the health and safety of student participants in the event of an outbreak of diseases or other health/safety risks;
    5. Program sponsors should educate student participants on their personal responsibility for their own physical and mental health and safety while abroad, on available resources to support their health and safety, and on their right to decline when asked to perform activities outside their scope of training or their abilities.
    6. It is required that each participant have their own medical,travel, and accident insurance. Any costs not covered by insurance will be the responsibility of the traveler.
    7. Student participation in activities which are non-credit bearing and off-campus require student acknowledgement of inherent risk and waivers of liability. Program sponsors are responsible for collecting these documents and maintaining the files in a central location in accordance with TBR Guideline G-070.
    8. Dual-enrolled students are not eligible to participate. Students under the age of 18 must have a liability waiver signed by their parent or legal guardian.
    9. Students are subject to enforcement of the home institution's student code of conduct and local, state, and federal laws at all times while traveling. Disciplinary issues must be reported by the group leaders to the appropriate campus official upon return to campus.


NEW Guideline approved at President's Meeting, August 16, 2016.