Leading a Program Abroad

Now that you’ve submitted a full program proposal it is time to start the work of actually delivering the program. From recruitment to operation, the CIE Study Abroad Office is here to help. As you know, a study abroad program involves coordinating a lot of moving pieces and is very different from how you may travel independently, or with your family. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re getting ready to go abroad.

Marketing and Recruitment

As with courses on campus, enrollment is a key factor in deciding to offer a program – or deciding whether it actually goes abroad or not. However, unlike courses offered here on campus, the success of your enrollment hinges on successfully recruiting enough applicants. From the applicant pool you can expect that not all of them will complete their applications, and so you’ll need to recruit many more applicants than you will actually need for your program to succeed.

Once your proposal is submitted, reviewed and you’ve met with the CIE Study Abroad Office, your Study Abroad Coordinator will create a page on our website specific to your program – we refer to it is a brochure page. It can be accessed directly through a URL your Coordinator will share with you, and can also be printed like a flyer.

Program leaders may also create their own marketing materials.  If doing so, however, please coordinate with the CIE Study Abroad Office. At a minimum we’ll need to approve the use of the UWM and CIE logos, but we’ll also help to ensure that the content and message are correct and accurate. Incomplete itineraries, inaccurate price information, or conflicting messages will serve only to discourage applications.

Effective recruitment almost always determines the success or failure of a program.  Some tips for recruitment:

  • Host information sessions. These meetings are a great way to bring together groups of interested students. The students aren’t signing up just to go abroad – they’re signing up for your program, and they need to get a sense of who you are. Set a date/time for an information session well ahead of the application deadline, and also be sure to invite your Study Abroad Coordinator!
  • Announce the program in all classes that you teach, as well as those in which students are eligible to participate. The CIE Study Abroad Office conducts class visits and presentation across campus, but we’re happy to target specific courses at your direction, and can even come to present to your class.
  • Discuss the program with students whom you advise, if they are eligible to enroll. This kind of face-to-face promotion is often the most effective, albeit the most time-intensive.
  • Describe the program to your colleagues and ask them to help you recruit. If your program may appeal to students in other disciplines, you’ll want to make contact with those faculty members as well.
  • Give colleagues and students a copy of the program flyer developed and printed by CIE.
  • Your Study Abroad Coordinator will help you maintain a running list of interested students and stay in touch to keep them aware of this opportunity. You’ll have an email reflector that you can use to send out emails to students on this list. Maintaining frequent communication with the students is vital in keeping students interested, engaged and excited about participating on your program. Don’t overwhelm them with an onslaught of emails, but certainly once every week to ten days is appropriate.
  • If you’ve led the program in the past, reach out to former participants and enlist their assistance with class visits, information sessions and other recruitment activities. They are, hands down, the best recruiters you could hope for!
  • Truth in advertising! When you speak with students or colleagues about your program, remember that they may have no idea about what the program site, the study facilities, the additional activities, and the living arrangements will be like. You need to describe these in positive, but accurate terms.

The CIE Study Abroad Office hosts a Study Abroad Fair each semester. This is our biggest single recruitment event, and attracts huge numbers of students – some who have heard about a specific program and are seeking more information, and others who are just learning about study abroad options for the first time. Each program has a reserved space at the fair, and it is expected that you (or a representative) will be in attendance.

Non-UMW students are welcome to apply to UWM programs, and you can certainly recruit locally, regionally and nationally for your program. Keep in mind, though, that in the event of space limitations, priority must go to UWM students. In many cases the addition of non-UWM students can help a program with budget viability, but also has the benefit of bringing in diverse students and perspectives.

Financial Considerations

UWM’s office of Business and Financial Services has developed guidelines related to budgeting study abroad programs. The guidelines are published in the university’s Administrative Services Manual and found in the CIE Faculty Handbook for leading study abroad.

In accordance with Wisconsin state regulation FP#45, all faculty-led study abroad programs are budgeted on a cost recovery basis, whereby each participating student pays an equal share of the program’s total cost. A per-participant administrative fee is included in each program’s cost total. This fee is used by CIE to fund study abroad operations, including staff salaries and operational overhead. Faculty-led study abroad programs do not include a charge for tuition.

CIE study abroad staff work with faculty leaders to jointly develop and finalize budgets in advance of a program’s start. Only those charges that relate specifically to the operation of a program, while it is abroad, are permissible.

Program budgets are designed to break even, but are also structured to prevent against any unexpected overages. At the conclusion of the program, the CIE Study Abroad Office will reconcile the budget and determine actual expenditures relative to total revenue collected. In the event that there is a surplus, and that the surplus is greater than $50/student, refunds will be issued to participants.


You can expect to be paid your salary on the first of the month immediately following the end of your program. Don’t forget, though, that as with any salary payment, the amount will be reduced by the standard tax and benefit percentages. In the unlikely event that you do not receive payment on the anticipated date, please notify the CIE Study Abroad Office immediately. There are numerous dates, processes, and

Salaries for program leaders (and program assistant, where applicable) vary within programs, as well as across the different schools and colleges. For example, the College of Letters and Science uses a formula to determine salary based on a fixed amount plus a per-student supplement. Other methods and formulas are used elsewhere, so please refer to your respective Dean or Department Chair for more specific guidance. Program leaders’ salaries cannot, however, exceed 1/9th of annual salary (or 1/12th for 12-month contract employees).


Because of their short duration, CIE purchases group airfare for all UWinteriM programs. Group airfare is optional for programs taking place in other terms since students often travel on their own before and after their program dates.

CIE plans and purchases airfare for all study abroad program faculty and assistants. Faculty and assistants give their approval of airfare itineraries before they are purchased.

Pursuant to UW – System policy, the CIE Study Abroad Office now arranges all airfare through Fox World Travel. Frequent flyer miles may not used for airfare purchases or upgrades. Airfare is part of each study abroad program budget, so every effort is made to select the least expensive reasonable routing. To save costs, international flights are commonly scheduled to depart from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

All faculty and assistants are asked to complete an [INDIVIDUAL FACULTY FLIGHT FORM] in accordance with the faculty program timeline to insure accurate information and flight requests.  This form is not necessary for UWinteriM programs or if opting for a group airfare.

Vendor Payments

Payments to the vendors (hotels, hostels, transportation and tour companies, museums, etc.) are a necessary part of the study abroad pre-departure preparation process. The CIE Study Abroad Office will work to pay as many vendor invoices in advance of a program’s start as is possible. This decreases risk for the program leader by lowering the amount of money, in the form of a travel advance, that they are responsible for during the course of the program.

A combination of institutional policy, budget design, and best practice in education abroad, means that the CIE Study Abroad Office cannot and does not make payments to any vendors or service providers prior to all students confirming their participation. By confirming their participation, students are making a financial committement to cover their portion of the cost of operating the program. Once this happens, the CIE Study Abroad Office can begin making payments on behalf of the program. It is important to note that this means no deposit payments can be made to hold reservations – there is no money to spend for a program until after the students confirm.

During the program, it is the leader’s responsibility to obtain receipts and invoices for any payments made. To facilitate a seamless and prompt reconciliation of the budget these receipts/invoices should be as complete as possible

In-Country Expenditures

CIE policy is to pay for as many in-country, program-related expenses (eg., hotels, local transportation, etc.) as possible before a program begins. Doing this minimizes risk by lowering the amount of money, in the form of a travel advance, a faculty leader has to carry during the program. While there are many solutions to safeguarding and managing your travel advance, for those who haven’t yet lead a program or haven’t developed a method, the CIE Study Abroad Office recommends opening an account at the UW Credit Union. This account will come with a Visa Debit Card that you can use to withdraw cash or pay by credit.

Program Leader Pre-Departure Orientation

UW System policy guidelines require that all program leaders and assistants leading study abroad programs attend a pre-departure orientation. CIE convenes orientation sessions twice per year, on the study day prior to the exam periods in December and May. First-time program leaders are required to attend this orientation. In order to ensure that program leaders are aware of best practices, policy changes and well-preapred to respond to emergencies, the University requires completion of the orientation once every three years. For those unable to attend the regularly scheduled orientation session, a make up session can be arranged with the CIE Study Abroad Office and the Director of Study Abroad.

Orientation Topics

Program leader orientation covers the following topics:

  • UW-system policies
  • Program leader, assistant, and CIE responsibilities
  • Emergency response and crisis management
  • Safety and risk mitigation
  • Legal affairs
  • Health concerns, and student behavioral issues
  • Student (and faculty) conduct
  • Financial policies and money management
Program Leader Handbook

This handbook is for faculty and staff who will be serving as program leaders and/or assistants on study abroad programs.

Program Leader Orientation

These are the slides from the Program Leader Orientation conducted on May 8, 2015.

Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)

UW-System health insurance coverage provided for all faculty, assistants, staff, and students. Please note that when calling CISI your call is answered and managed by the Assist America Company. Assist America is the service provider for CISI, and will work directly with you resolve the issue, whatever it may be.

  • ID#: STB009987902
  • Toll-free Domestic:  +1 800-303-8120
  • Worldwide Collect: +1 203-399-5130 (calling from outside of the US, collect calls accepted)
  • E-mail: claimhelp@culturalinsurance.com
  • Website: http://www.culturalinsurance.com


While travelling with your group, it is important to contact CISI immediately following any incident requiring medical care. If you are having trouble contacting CISI yourself, the CIE Study Abroad Office can help.

Seek medical assistance for any incident that you think may require service. Unless a case was opened while abroad, CISI will not cover expenses for follow-up medical service back in the United States.

In many countries, medical insurance is uncommon – especially in destinations with socialized medicine. If that is the case in your location, you can explain that CISI is the organization that will pay the bill. In the case of more minor expenses, CISI will reimburse rather than pay up front. The claims process is simple and quick, but please feel free to connect with the CIE Study Abroad Office for assistance with submitting a claim. Please note that medical service fees are NOT the responsibility of UWM or the CIE Study Abroad Office. Thus, it is very important that you collect and safeguard all receipts for medical treatment. Please coordinate larger claim filings through the CIE Study Abroad Office