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Pre-Departure Policies

Participant Guidelines

As with all academic programs, students are entitled to a good learning environment. Learning/study abroad programs adhere to University policies as applicable to specific programs, including governing principles for academic credit, grading, financial aid, cancellations, refunds, and access to educational records. The Learning Abroad Center has the authority to establish rules of conduct necessary for the operation of a program and to reserve the right to require a student to withdraw. In such instances, the participant is entitled to the same due process established on campus.

In addition to any program specific forms, every participant receives written and verbal information related to participating in a study abroad program. The following is a brief synopsis of the most pertinent guidelines for participation.

Academic Expectations

Courses and credit offered through Learning Abroad Center programs are part of the University of Minnesota curriculum and are offered in accordance with University academic policies and standards. Participants should be prepared for work loads and grading standards similar to or, in some cases, more rigorous than those in on-campus courses. Learn more about Academic Policies.

Participants are urged to seek academic advising on the applicability of overseas courses to specific degree requirements (major, minor, language, liberal education, etc). See Academic Planning and Information for more on the process. For most programs, grades earned count in the participant’s UofM grade point average (GPA). Exchange and Outside Programs usually generate transfer credit, which doesn’t count in the participant’s GPA.

Non-UofM students will receive an official UofM transcript and should check their own institution’s policies regarding credit transfer and applicability.

While the Learning Abroad Center encourages participants to take full advantage of the overseas setting for travel and other experiences outside the classroom, such activities should not interfere with academic commitments. Attendance at all class sessions is expected and assigned work is to be turned in on time. To avoid conflicting with studies, friends and family are encouraged to confine any visits to vacation periods scheduled during the program or to defer plans until the program is completed.

Health & Safety

The UofM considers the health and safety of students on education abroad opportunities one of its top priorities. While no organization or institution can guarantee the safety of participants, the risks can be significantly reduced if program staff, students, parents, and advisers at the host and home institutions all work together. Most professionals in the education abroad field tend to believe that study abroad in a foreign country is no more dangerous than study in the United States, however, safety remains a prime concern for all involved.

In response to the concern for the well-being of the students, the UofM has developed policies and procedures related to education abroad opportunities which require all students participating in an education abroad experience sponsored or endorsed by the university to complete a Release and Waiver form from the General Counsel's office and must have international insurance coverage provided by the university.

Additionally, the university endorses the recommendations of NAFSA: Association of International Educators' health and safety task force findings. Health and Safety Guidelines developed by NAFSA: The Association of International Educators.

Students, faculty and staff are responsible for reading and complying with the following:

Education Abroad Opportunities: Addressing Health and Safety Risks (policy)

Preparing for Education Abroad Opportunities (U of M Academic/Administrative Procedure 2.2.7.1)

Health issues are always a concern for learning abroad participants, their family and friends, and program staff. Predeparture and on-site orientation for participants includes some discussion of prevention and care overseas, as well as a list of resources they can consult for more information. Included in the Learning Abroad Center Student Handbook are health and safety guidelines developed by NAFSA: The Association of International Educators. Those going to developing countries are provided with information about pre-departure immunizations, medication, and disease prevention.

All participants complete a health information form prior to departure to inform the Learning Abroad Center staff of any medical or emotional problems, past or current, which might affect the participant during an international experience. Mild physical or psychological conditions can become serious under the stresses of life while studying abroad. If a participant has questions about how a pre-existing or previous mental or physical illness might be affected while overseas, they are encouraged to consult a physician and discuss the issues with the Learning Abroad Center staff. On-site coordinators may be able to make special arrangements and contacts for students with special needs if the Learning Abroad Center is notified before departure. Information provided will remain confidential and will only be shared with program staff, faculty, or an appropriate professional if pertinent to the participant’s well-being.

Participants taking prescription medication should bring enough medication to last throughout the overseas stay. All medication should be stored in their original containers with their identification label attached and clearly visible. An accompanying letter from a physician which describes the medication should be carried by the participant. Carry-on luggage should contain enough medication to last one to two weeks in case checked luggage is delayed or lost. If the medication is considered a controlled substance, officials must be notified at the US Embassy in the host country.

Learning Abroad Center programs which have on-site staff are prepared to assist students with health care needs. In the case of a medical emergency, on-site staff notify the Learning Abroad Center staff who in turn immediately notify the participant’s emergency contact.

Release & Waiver

The UofM requires that all students (undergraduate and graduate) complete a Release and Waiver as part of the arrangements to participate in a learning abroad opportunity. This form outlines participants’ responsibilities when taking part in a learning abroad program including accepting the terms of the specific program and securing a space. The statements outlined and agreed to on the release include items such as: personal conduct, insurance coverage, medical treatment, responsibility during free time, theft and other crimes, political unrest, travel, cancellation and refund policy, and a general release and waiver statement. It further clarifies that the UofM and the Learning Abroad Center and its staff are not liable for damage to or loss of property, injury, illness, or death during the period of the program, arising on the part of fellow participants, host family members, agencies, and educational organizations persons or groups with which the Learning Abroad Center contracts for the provision of services for the program.

Insurance

The UofM (all campuses) provides mandatory international travel, health, and security insurance provided through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) for most students learning abroad on programs offered by or affiliated with the UofM, custom programs offered by colleges and departments, outside programs, WIV (work, internship, volunteer) opportunities, directed and/or independent study, etc. The cost of this insurance is often included in the program fee or arrangements can be made by the student to purchase the insurance individually at the Learning Abroad Center/Study Abroad Office on their respective campus. Details on this policy are available on the insurance page.

Student Code of Conduct

In addition to the UofM and Learning Abroad Center policies and guidelines, many programs will have their own rules of conduct that are specific to the program and the country. Failure to comply with these guidelines can lead to dismissal from the program. Students not in compliance will be given sufficient warning and then expelled from the program. All academic credit will be lost and the student will be responsible for all program fees. See the University of Minnesota Student Code of Conduct and the Learning Abroad Center Policy on Rules of Conduct.

Power of Attorney/Attorney-in Fact

The Learning Abroad Center urges students who are studying abroad to select a trusted parent or other person to receive Power of Attorney to take care of unanticipated financial and personal affairs while they are out of the country. A student with financial aid through the UofM may require the assistance of their Attorney-in-Fact to deal with issues such as completing financial aid paperwork or deposit of financial aid checks. Any student may require assistance with banking, insurance transactions, or another legal matter. See the Power of Attorney policy for more details.

Financial Arrangements

The Learning Abroad Center invoices students and/or their home institution through the UofM Student Finance billing system. Every student has a finance account. They will receive an email notification from the Learning Abroad Center when the billing information has been applied to their account, accessible through MyU (mid- to late-August for fall semester; December for winter break and spring semester; April for May Session; and May for Summer Session). Confirmation deposits are billed to the student finance account and are due in full within two weeks of the billing date. The Office of Student Finance (OSF) will send an email notification regarding the official bill and payment due dates in early September for fall semester, early January for spring semester, and mid-June for May session/summer session.

Please be aware that the University uses an ebill/epay system and paper invoices are not sent out. Ebill notification coincides with the UofM calendar and may take place after the learning abroad opportunity begins. If the student is arranging for another party to make payments, they must arrange for Power of Attorney through the OSF. Late fees, special handling fees and collection agency fees may be assessed if payments are not made by the due dates. Students are responsible for all information contained on the ebill statement regarding payment procedures.

Non-UofM students need to activate their UofM email account in order to receive the information and make payments accordingly. Email is the UofM’s official mode of communication, and students are responsible for accessing their account often. No exceptions are made for failure to make payments, as sufficient information is provided in advance on how to activate the email account.

Additionally, failure to make payments will result in no transcripts or grades being released and UofM students will also be restricted from being able to register for future terms until the finance account is up to date.

It is important to be aware that the Learning Abroad Center and the OSF, in compliance with the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and Regents policy, cannot share financial information with a third party (including parents, spouse, guardians, etc.) without the student’s written permission. The student can download a Student Information Release Authorization or pick one up at 200 Fraser Hall (map) or any Bursar’s Office. The form should be completed and returned to OneStop Student Services, 200 Fraser Hall, 106 Pleasant St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.