Concept Development


If you are developing a Global Learning project, it is good idea to consider the desired features at least 12-18 months before departure. Features include the method of delivery (in-country, online, hybrid), locations, time periods, academic recognition, promotion, logistics, partnerships, and more. To assist with your  ideation, utilise the following worksheets and Areas of Consideration:

  • Concept Development worksheet [Personal Use]
    • Timeline worksheet [Personal Use]
    • Basic Budget worksheet [Personal Use]
    • Itinerary worksheet [Personal Use]

For expert advice, contact the Manager, Short Mobility


Areas of Consideration

Provided below are some areas to consider when developing a best practice Learning Abroad project. In addition, some sections identify risks and provide potential Key Controls. These Key Controls can be utilised when completing a Risk Assessment.


Rules and Policies

University Policy and Compliance

  • Does the proposed project meet the principles and conditions of Western Sydney University’s policies?
  • Key Controls
    • Before implementing any program, all project leaders required to submit a Learning Abroad Proposal and Risk Assessment to Western Sydney International and the relevant University delegate, for approval.
    • All international partners and providers must pass the University's due diligence process and have an agreement
    • All students are required to register with Western Sydney University's Go Global Portal and sign terms and conditions for participation in the overseas program.
    • All students and staff are required to participate in information sessions prior to departure. The project leader will highlight university policy to participants and expected behaviour.
    • For advice, contact the Manager, Short Mobility .

Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH)

  • Will there be a risk of sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment during the delivery of the overseas program?
    • The Australian Government and Western Sydney University (WSU) does not tolerate sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment of any kind. The Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) policy sets out expectations and requirements for all delivery partners to manage SEAH risks and incidents. This includes a risk assessment to PSEAH Minimum Standards and a contract with all downstream partners. WSU and partners must assess the level of risk for SEAH occurring and apply the PSEAH Minimum Standards. To determine the risk of SEAH and find out more about reporting, see the Guidance on Assessing the Risk of SEAH.
  • Key Controls
    • WSU requires that all staff and students receive compulsory training on Respectful Relationships.
    • WSU requires that all project leader must document the risk of SEAH and the actions to mitigate during the Risk Assessment process.
    • Before commencing the project, all partners and providers must pass the University's due diligence process and agree to abide by the SEAH policy.
    • Any incident or non-compliance will be reported within the specified period on becoming aware of an alleged incident - see the SEAH policy information.

Child Protection Policy

  • Does the activity involve individuals working with children or contact with children? If you are working with an institution or provider, is the organisation child-focused and what child protection controls are in place?
    • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has a zero tolerance approach to child exploitation or abuse. DFAT recognises that it is the shared responsibility of all adults to prevent child exploitation and abuse.  In Australia, there is recognition that organisations that work with children also have a role in protecting them, and need policies and procedures to enable them to do so. The DFAT Child Protection policy sets out expectations and requirements for all delivery partners to act in accordance with the policy principles outlined in the document, and abide by their own relevant policies, international declarations, conventions, agreements and domestic legal frameworks, which seek to protect children.
    • If your project involves working with children, you are required to determine the level of contact with children (e.g. nil, contact or working), and assess the Activity Risk. If your project involves working with an organisation that is child focused, you are required to list the child protection controls in place. This information must be added to the final Learning Abroad Risk Assessment including what will be established to mitigate the risks.
    • For comprehensive information about assessment and reporting, see the DFAT Child Protection Policy.
  • Key Controls
    • WSU reequires that all project leader must document the risk of child exploitation or abuse, and the actions taken to mitigate for participants and organisations. Extensive information and advice can be found in the  Child Protection Guidance document.
    • All staff participants are assessed and screened for working with children.
    • Any instance, suspicion or allegation of child exploitation and/or abuse, will be reported to the University and Australian Government.

Host Location

Knowledge of the Host Location

  • What experience do you have in the host location? Have you explored and physically visited the potential site?
    • Before implementing a program, a valuable exercise is to conduct a site visit to evaluate the host country's services, on-site logistics, health and safety, transportation, housing and many other elements. Conducting a site visit also provides a good opportunity to collect materials specific for promotion and pre-departure sessions.
    • To support the project, you may wish to consider utilising a partner university or approved third party provider. Before commencing the project, all partners and providers must pass the University's due diligence process. For more information see Program Models and Partnerships.

DFAT Risk Rating

  • How safe is the proposed destination? What is the current DFAT Travel Advice?
    • To guide Australians and avoid difficulties overseas, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) maintains travel advisories on Smartraveller for more than 170 destinations. The Smartraveller advisories assist people in making informed decisions and highlight the risks that could be faced in host location(s). Smartraveller includes information about security, safety, health, local laws, or natural disasters. The advisories also highlight areas that are clearly not safe for travel.
    • Smartraveller has 4 levels of risk.
      • Level 1 – Exercise normal safety precautions
      • Level 2 – Exercise a high degree of caution
      • Level 3 – Reconsider your need to travel
      • Level 4 – Do not travel
    • Further information about these precautions can be found on Travel Advice Explained.
  • Key Controls
    • If the risk rating for a host location is Level 3 or above, the program must be reviewed for cancellation or stricter measures must be implemented to reduce the likelihood of any hazards occurring. Contact the Manager, Short Mobility for further advice.

Local Laws and Penalties

  • What local laws and penalties are specific to the host destination?
    • When travelling overseas, participants subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Similar to living in Australia, ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. It is the responsibility of participants to research and understand the laws, codes of dress and behaviour, and the penalties for the host destination - see Learn the Local Laws.
  • Key Controls
    • WSU requires that all project leaders, review the specific risks and provide information and pre-departure training to participants.
    • Participants are requested to research and understand the laws and penalties for the host destination:
      • Local laws may reflect the local religion and customs. Learning about, and respecting, the local religion can help you stay within the law.
      • Medication could be illegal. Even with an Australian prescription, participants could be arrested.
      • Authorities may apply the law inconsistently.
      • Some conservative countries discriminate against certain populations including women and LGBTI travellers.
      • Bribery, under any name, is illegal. Don't give anything to an overseas official in return for special treatment.
      • Understand the local codes of dress and behaviour.

Terrorism

  • Is the host location prone to terrorism?
    • Terrorism remains a threat to Australians living and travelling overseas. Many terrorist groups have demonstrated the intent and capability to undertake attacks, including against Australian interests. Find out more.
  • Key Controls
    • A Learning Abroad project must have an approved Proposal and Risk Assessment that: 
      • Considers the level of security at the destination
      • Avoid locations that are possible terrorist targets
      • Have a clear emergency and critical incident response plan
      • Train students and staff
      • All participants will be educated about risks and avoidance during pre-departure training
    • Contact the Manager, Short Mobility for further advice.

Civil unrest and political tension

  • Is the host location prone to civil unrest and political tension?
    • Civil unrest is conflict between different groups of people living in the same country. It can be peaceful or violent. It can range in scale from a few people at a small local rally, to a large demonstration with 1000s of people. Find out more.
  • Key Controls
    • A Learning Abroad project must have an approved Proposal and Risk Assessment that: 
      • Considers the level of security at the destination
      • Avoid locations that may have civil unrest or political tensions.
      • Have a clear emergency and critical incident response plan
      • Train students and staff
      • All participants will be educated about risks and avoidance during pre-departure training
    • Contact the Manager, Short Mobility for further advice.

Crime

  • What are the common crimes in the host location?
    • Before going overseas, you need to be aware of some of common crimes in the host country. Find out more about what to do if a participant is a victim of a crime overseas.
  • Key Controls
    • WSU requires that all project leaders, review the specific risks and have an emergency and critical incident response plan
    • All participants will be educated about potential crimes and avoidance during pre-departure training
    • Participants are to abstain from travelling alone, even in major cities and tourist sites

Tours and adventure activities

  • What types of excursions or field activities, will be incorporated into the program? Will students engage in independent activities?
    • DFAT Advice: "Australians love sport and adventure, both locally and overseas. Whether you’re crossing the ditch to ski, hiking the Himalayas or strolling the Camino de Santiago, make sure you’re informed and prepared before you go". Find out more.

Wildlife safety

  • Will the participants be exposed to any dangerous wildlife?
  • Key Controls
    • All Learning Abroad projects require an approved Learning Abroad Proposal and Risk Assessment that identifies risks and prevents participants from engaging in hazardous activities.
    • All students and staff must be educated about risks and avoidance during pre-departure training and arrival orientation sessions.

Climate and natural disasters

  • Does the host location experience natural disasters?
    • A disaster can happen anywhere, anytime. However, some destinations experience certain types of natural disasters more often. Before you go, find out what natural disasters are common in your destination. Know what you can do to be prepared. This helps reduce the impact on your health, safety and finances. Find out more.
  • Key Controls
    • All Learning Abroad projects require an approved Learning Abroad Proposal and Risk Assessment that identifies risks and prevents participants from engaging in hazardous activities.
    • All students and staff must be educated about risks and avoidance during pre-departure training and arrival orientation sessions.

Health

Health risks and Medical Care

  • What are the specific health risks for the host destination? Are vaccinations required? Will the participants need to take any medications? Do the participants need to have a certain level of fitness?
    • Although participating in an overseas activity is exciting for participants, the activity may expose students and staff to serious health risks. Know the health risks so you can make informed choices about where you are going and what you do. When implementing the project, review the specific risks and provide this information to participants. Everyone has a different medical history. Participants should visit a doctor 6 to 12 weeks before departure and find out about vaccines and medications that may be required.
    • Information about health risks can be found by visiting Travel Doctor-TMVCSmartraveller, and the Australian Government's Department of Health websites.
  • Key Controls
    • WSU requires that all project leaders, review the specific risks and provide information and pre-departure training to participants.
    • Participants are requested to visit a doctor 6 to 12 weeks before leaving Australia and find out about vaccines and medications that may require before and during the trip.

Mental Health

  • What attitude does the host location have towards mental illness? What happens if a participant suffers from mental illness?
    • According to the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission, 1 in 5 Australians suffer mental ill health each year. It is important to consider the host location and the attitude towards mental illness.
    • The Australian Government stresses that anyone travelling abroad is subject to foreign jurisdictions, which may view mental illness different from back at home. Consequently, it is important to thoroughly research the destination and determine if there are any concerns that may trigger mental health concerns - see Australian travellers with mental health conditions.
  • Key Controls
    • WSU requires that all project leaders, review the specific risks and provide information and pre-departure training to participants
    • Participants are required to self-identify existing conditions in order to assess potential liabilities, remedies or contingencies

Travelling with Medications

  • Do any of the participants need to take personal medications or medical devices on the program? 
    • DFAT Advice: Travelling with medication and medical devices overseas can be complicated. Participants may have difficulties finding treatments or taking what they need on a flight. Some medications could be illegal in the host destination and locally-bought remedies can be poor  substitutes, counterfeit, or hard to find. See Travelling with Medications.
  • Key Controls
    • WSU requires project leaders to highlight risks to participants during pre-departure training and ensure they are not carrying prohibited medication to the host location.
    • Participants are requested to:
      • see a doctor or travel clinic for medical advice
      • learn about the local laws around medication
      • find out any cultural considerations about the medication or condition
      • pack enough medication to stay in good health for thetrip
      • check whether the airline has restrictions on medical equipment or mobility aids
      • make emergency plans in case things go wrong

Travel Insurance

  • Will the participants be covered by insurance?
    • Students and staff that travel overseas on approved University activities are covered by the corporate travel insurance policy for the official University component of their trip. This may include travel overseas for the purposes of placement, work experience, practicums, research, conferences, student exchange and study tours.
    • The University's travel insurance is limited and does not include personal travel or participating in extreme or high risk activities. See Overseas Travel Insurance.
  • Key Controls
    • The project will have an approved Learning Abroad Proposal that includes a strict itinerary that identifies hazards.
    • During pre-departure training, the project leader will emphasise  university policy, highlighting that participants are not permitted to engage in personal travel or high risk activities.
    • Participants are required to sign terms and conditions for participation in the overseas program

Travel

Visas

  • What type of visa will participants require when participating in the program?
    • A travel visa is an official government document that temporarily authorises a non-citizen to enter and temporarily remain in a country. A visa is usually a stamp, sticker, or card that is placed in a passport and is checked when entering a country. As a program leader, you will need to consider the type of visa required for the overseas program. Depending on the experience or location, visa processing can sometimes take many months. Therefore, it is important to contemplate visas when developing a timeline. In addition, be aware that prospective participants in the program will have different backgrounds, such as places of birth and/or citizenship. Due to different circumstances, this may affect visa requirements.
    • Key Controls
      • Staff employed by the Australian Government or Western Sydney University are not permitted to provide direct advice to participants about visas.
      • All participants will be educated about risks during pre-departure sessions. Ultimately the individual participant is responsible for determining with the appropriate consulate(s) if they have the correct visa and requirements for the country(s) they are entering, well in advance of travel. Only the embassy or consulate for the host location(s) can provide up-to-date information about visa requirements. This information may change constantly.
      • Participants are required to sign terms and conditions for participation in the overseas program

Passports

  • Do the participants have valid passports?
    • Prior to travelling abroad, all participants require a valid passport with more than 6 months until expiration from the date of return. For further information see the Australian Passport Office or  the relevant foreign consulate (non-citizens / international students).
  • Key Controls
    • All participants will be educated about requiring a valid passport during the application and pre-departure sessions.
    • Project leader or support staff will check passports during the selection process.
    • Participants are required to sign terms and conditions for participation in the overseas program.

Transport

  • After arriving in country, how will the participants be transported to accommodation or other venues? Will you be driving? Are you competent or have the correct licence? 
    • Although public transport is a cost effective and convenient way of travelling overseas, there may be challenges. Get to know the specific risks for the host destination and how to mitigate any liabilities. See Public Transport. In case of last minute changes, make sure that you have a robust, yet flexible itinerary.
    • To alleviate challenges, it is highly recommended that project leaders consider engaging with a WSU preferred provider or partner university. see Guidelines for Developing Instructor-Led Short Programs.
  • Key Controls
    • Program leader engages with a preferred third party provider or partner university to assist in planning and managing the program. Before commencing the project, all partners and providers must pass the University's due diligence process.
    • During pre-departure training, the project leader will emphasise  university policy, highlighting that participants are not permitted to engage in personal travel or high risk activities.
    • Participants are required to sign terms and conditions for participation in the overseas program.

Accommodation

  • Where will participants stay during the project? Is the accommodation safe?
  • Key Controls
    • Pre-book accommodation in safe areas with appropriate health and safety standards.
    • Get advice about your itinerary from a preferred third party provider or partner university.
    • Find out about the accommodation provider’s health and safety record, including security, emergency plans and evacuation procedures.

Program Design

Itinerary and Program Syllabus

  • What is included in the itinerary? What are the learning goals for the program? Is the prospective location academically sound and culturally relevant? How will the program support the students’ personal and intercultural development?
    • Designing a program takes skill due to the inherent time restraints, quick pace, and special dynamics of group travel. To ensure success, it is important to have clearly defined curricular goals, academic standards, and onsite logistics planned long before departure.  A well-planned program will successfully incorporate academic content with daily or weekly excursions, lectures, and site visits. The syllabus should clearly explain the subject, expectations, and how the students will be evaluated.
    • A poorly planned program can be exhausting for students and staff. Try to avoid burnout by scheduling free time, as well as frequent opportunities for the students to de-brief their observations and reactions to the cultures they are experiencing. Make sure that you have enough time in your itinerary for travelling between venues and balance your activities appropriately, e.g. do not plan three gallery visits in one day. In addition, pay attention to the seasons and make sure you are travelling at the right time of the year.
    • To assist with this process, download the Proposal for a Global Learning Project. The Proposal includes worksheets for Itinerary, Description of Activities. Timeline and Basic Budget.

Excursions and extra-curricular activities

  • What types of excursions or field activities, will be incorporated into the program? Will participants engage in independent activities?
  • There are a number of different types of excursions or field activities that you could incorporate into a Learning Abroad activity. These include:
    • Academic Excursions: These outings are related to themes of the course and have a clear academic purpose which is communicated to the students. The program leaders accompanying the students facilitate the learning.
    • Orientation Excursions: These usually occur during the first days for the program and are designed to help students adapt to their new surroundings. Examples included guided tours through the immediate neighbourhood or city.
    • Recreational Excursions: These could be inexpensive side trips for tourism or recreational purposes. Longer or more expensive options should generally be optional and at the student’s expense. The program budget should only reflect academic excursions.
    • Field Assignments: In addition to excursions, leaders should incorporate structured field assignments into their program. Field assignments are an important variety of active learning. The analysis of the experience may be individual (a written report), team (oral report to the class), or the full class (group discussion, or a written report to which each student contributes one part.

Academic recognition

  • Will the students be enrolled in a Western unit or receive unspecified credit? What is the value of the overseas short program?
    • On average, standard Instructor-Led Programs have a value of 10 Credit Points and the duration of the trip would between 2 and 3 weeks. This is the norm, however there are short programs that could last up to 10 weeks and have the value of 40 Credit Points.
    • A Credit Point is the numerical value given to a unit that indicates the total contribution required to complete a course. At Western Sydney University the standard workload for one session is four units (40 Credit Points) with most units valued at 10 Credit Points each. The average 10 Credit unit requires approximately 3-4 hours of face-to-face teaching each week, not including additional work outside of this instruction.
    • A useful way of determining the academic value for an Instructor-Led Program is to arrange the itinerary in a grid and record the number of academic hours for each day. Depending on the nature of the program, academic hours can be mapped to the program outcomes and could include pre-departure, arrival and post-departure instruction; lectures at overseas universities, on the bus, in the field or at work sites; assignments, readings, and journals; independent exploration etc.
    • A well-designed program will take full advantage of the cultural opportunities and local idiosyncrasies and thread these into the itinerary.
    • Important: Students that are not eligible for academic credit, are disqualified from receiving OS-HELP or NCP mobility grants.

Academic calendar

  • Will the program be offered during the mid-year or end-of-year breaks? Will the timing of the program coincide with student assessments? What season will it be at the overseas location (spring, summer, autumn, winter, rainy or dry)? Will the program be offered to students that are studying in their last semester?
    • Deciding on the right time to hold a program, is very important. The itinerary can be affected by the weather, national holidays, or other events.
    • Individual students considering the program may be affected by their year of study (1st, 2nd, or 3rd), e.g. eligibility for OS-HELP, or complications with graduation. For students participating in 3 year degrees, the ideal time for students to participate in a program is usually from second year to the middle of third year.

Budgeting and Program Cost

  • Who creates and approves the budget? What are the costs? How much are students willing to pay for this opportunity? How will the opportunity be resourced and financed? Will low enrolment or lack of interest affect the program cost? What does the program fee include (credits, flights, meals, excursions, transportation, visas)? How will you pay for goods and services while abroad?
    • Creating a budget for your program is a critical step in planning. The program leader, in consultation with the School/Institute is responsible for creating a program budget and assuming all financial risk associated with the study tour. The budget process will help you determine the financial viability of the program and the students' program fee. The program fee must cover all program expenses.
    • To determine the financial viability of a program, experiment with the Worksheets found in the Proposal for a Global Learning Project. Try dividing your costs with several different participation numbers and see what impact it will have on the budget. It is better to set the fee higher, rather than overestimating the participation rate and not having enough money to cover program expenses.
    • Please keep in mind that when you are promoting an opportunity, the final cost must be clear, accurate and not misleading to students. It is illegal to make claims about goods or services that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.
    • During this process it is highly recommended that the overall cost is not intentionally reduced to save money while also diminishing the quality of the program and put at risk the safety of participants and the reputation of the University. Setting a fee that is too low in an effort to make the program look more attractive to students will lead to financial hardships for your School/Institute.

Financial Assistance for Students

  • Is there any financial help to assist students to participate in a program?
    • OS-HELP: a large majority of student mobility experiences are funded by OS-HELP, a deferred HELP debt loan for undergraduate Australian citizens undergraduate or postgraduate students enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place who want to undertake some of their study overseas. Loans over $8,000 are available. Academic approval is required; have completed 80 credit points of study, and have 10 credit points remaining on return. OS-HELP can be used for a range of expenses such as airfares, accommodation and other travel or study expenses. Students can access a total of two OS-HELP loans over their lifetime. The debt has the same repayment conditions as HECS-HELP and are indexed accordingly.
    • New Colombo Plan: The New Colombo Plan (NCP) Mobility Program provides funding to Australian universities and consortia to support Australian undergraduate students to participate in semester-based or short-term study, internships, mentorships, practicums and research in 40 host locations across the Indo-Pacific region. Mobility projects must attract course credit or fulfil mandatory course requirements. Short-term grants up to $3,000 per Student are available. Projects must have a minimum duration of two weeks.

Travel Insurance

  • Do students or staff need to pay for travel insurance?
    • Students that travel overseas on approved University activities are covered by the corporate travel insurance policy for the official University component of their trip. This may include travel overseas for the purposes of placement, work experience, practicums, research, conferences, student exchange and study tours. Please note this cover is limited and does not include personal travel or participating in extreme or high risk activities.
    • It is advised that you visit the Overseas Travel Insurance webpage and review the information and policy provided on this site. You should find out what it does and doesn't cover before departure.
    • Before travelling abroad all participants (students and staff) should Download World Travel Protection Card
    • If you experience a medical or security problem while travelling, you are encouraged to contact Customer Care (see What to Do in an Emergency below).
    • For more information or enquiries regarding insurance, please see the contact details on the Overseas Travel Insurance webpage.

Booking flights

All group travel must be booked through the University Travel and Expense Management System (TEMS). See Western Sydney University Travel. For further advice about booking travel for students, contact the Western Sydney University Travel Team (opens in a new window).

Program Administration and Partnerships

  • How will the program be administered? Who is responsible for each task during the program life cycle? Will you be leading the students abroad independently or will the program be supported by partner universities, third party providers or local experts? Will your program be sufficiently staffed to achieve learning goals and respond to emergencies? Are contracts required and what form of due diligence is in place?
    • When developing a project, it is important to clarify who is responsible for the overall management of a program, the day-to-day administration, and logistics in-country. There are a number of ways a program can be delivered. For more information see Program Models and Partnerships.

Student Recruitment

Student Interest and Demand

  • Have you surveyed or gauged interest from students about the prospective program or host location? What is your Value Proposition? What academic relevance does this location have?
    • Each year a number of overseas programs at Western are postponed or cancelled due to low demand or competing activities. Students may not find the opportunity appealing, be able to afford the experience, or have the time or ability to participate due to work commitments.

Promotion

  • How will the program be promoted? What techniques will be used? Who will be doing the advertising? What is the timeline advertising and selecting students?
    • Program leaders are responsible for promoting and recruiting students for their program.
    • Western Sydney International will only support the promotion of a programs that has been approved by the appropriate delegates and the correct due diligence process has been followed.
    • Contact Manager, Short Mobility for expert advice and support. The International Office can develop efficient processes for Learning Abroad projects.

Selecting Students

  • How will you select the students? Will students need to complete an Expression of Interest? What will be the selection criteria - a GPA requirement, Short answers, interviews?
  • There are many different methods used to evaluate students for an overseas experience. This may include assessing academic achievement, Grade Point Average, a statement of purpose, knowledge about a country or program etc.
  • Contact Manager, Short Mobility for expert advice and support. The International Office can develop efficient processes for Learning Abroad projects.

Developing and Managing a Program

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Further Information

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Contact Us

If you require any assistance, contact the Manager Short Term Mobility.