Guidelines for Developing International Short Programs

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    Implementation is when your vision becomes a reality. This stage considers a number of tasks including promotion of the program, recruiting and selecting students, booking transport and accommodation, providing pre-departure training for students and staff, organising in-country logistics and more. Every short program is different and each task will differ depending on the type of model utilised.

    Recommended Steps for Implementing an Overseas Short Program

    1. Promotion and Recruitment

    1.1 Advertising a Program

    • How will the program be promoted? What techniques will be used? Who will be doing the advertising?
      • Program leaders are responsible for promoting and recruiting students for their program. It is advised that you commence advertising your program very early used mixed methods:
        • To develop a webpage and online application, download the Webpage Development Form, complete the details, and return to WSI
        • Create a flyer to hand out during lectures and around the university
        • Create a digital footprint - post your program information on VuWs, Yammer, Facebook, online newsletters, etc.
        • Develop a 1-page Power Point that can be used briefly at the start of lectures and shared with colleagues
        • Ask your current and former students to share your program information on social media
        • Hold information sessions
    • NOTE: Western Sydney International will only promote programs that have passed a due diligence process, e.g. the submission and approval of a Learning Abroad Proposal or equivalent Academic Unit documentation and/or Provider information. Find out more.  

    1.2 Program name, slogans, and Unique Selling Points

    • Before making a webpage or flyer, it is important to come up with a good title, slogan, and  Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) for your program. The information should be simple, easy to understand, create excitement and ‘hook’ the students’ interest. The USPs are sometimes used in the slogan, and the slogan may become the title of your program. Provided below is a simple example of an opportunity for engineering students:
      • Title: See the World – engineering internships in the USA!
      • USPs:
        • $3000 scholarship on offer
        • Academic credit available
        • Life changing career opportunity
    • This short example can be used on postcards, webpages, flyers, announcements, emails, and social media (usually including a weblink to further information).
    • If you have difficulties with this exercise, as a starting point, try using the interchangeable formula - Location, Experience, Discipline, Reason (LEDR). Provided below is a list of reasons and USPs that are commonly utiltised for promoting study abroad:
      • See the World…..
      • Immerse yourself
      • Learn about new cultures
      • Hone Your Language Skills. ...
      • Career Opportunities. ...
      • Life changing experience. ...
      • Personal Development
      • Find New Interests. ...
    • Apart from the the program title and slogan, the content should consider the the following questions that students often ask:
      • What will I Study?
      • Will I receive academic recognition?
      • Are there any cultural excursions?
      • What type of accommodation will I be staying in?
      • What are the costs?
      • Is finance available?

    1.3 Misleading Advertising

    • Avoid misleading or deceptive claims about your program. It is illegal to engage in conduct that misleads or deceives consumers of a product – see Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website. When advertising the program to students, ensure the cost is factual and does not change (e.g. Program cost: $2595 AUD, not including airfares and visas). Make sure to work out an accurate final cost for each student. For instance, when working on your final budget, add on 20% for creeping costs.
    • Ambiguous Advertising Techniques
      • "Promotional pricing" is a sales technique that involves intentionally reducing the price of a product or service to make it appear more attractive to consumers. It is advised that the overall cost of the program should not intentionally be reduced to save money or make the program look more attractive to students. This could potentially diminish the quality of the program and put at risk the safety of participants, the reputation of the University, or lead to financial hardships for your School/Institute. For instance, if you are organising a New Colombo Plan project that is subsidised by a $3,000 grant for each student, and the actual cost will be $5,000 per student, it is advised that students self-fund the remaining $2000 via OS-HELP.  This includes paying the costs of staff leading the program (see Finance Options for Students and Staff below).
      • "Drip pricing" is where the original advertised cost of a program is incrementally disclosed with additional fees and charges, resulting in a higher price. This is illegal and you must advertise the final cost to students.

    2. Selecting Students

    2.1 Methodology

    • 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 Western Sydney International (WSI) for further advice and support. WSI are very experienced in this area and can develop efficient tailored online applications and evaluation processes for program leaders.

    2.2 Confirming Selected Students

    • Program leaders, or associated staff, must send a list of selected students to Western Sydney International (WSI), as early as possible, prior to departure.WSI will request students to:
    • The above requirements are not country specific and do not replace the Program-Specific pre-departure sessions provided by program leaders or the Academic Unit.

    3. Pre-Departure Training for Students

    3.1 Pre-Departure Information Sessions

    • It is advised that all participants are provided with comprehensive information about the overseas activity at least 3 months prior to going abroad.  It is also essential to have an established health and safety plan that provides the necessary training and information for people travelling on the program. Participants should be provided with pre-emptive strategies for responding to emergencies and crisis. The information should be presented in multiple formats, and numerous times, to ensure the information is committed to memory. Information sessions can be action-orientated, focusing on activities and scenarios overseas.
    • There are two different types of Pre-Departure Training on offer to students:
      • Generic Pre-Departure Training: Program leaders, or associated staff, must send a list of selected students to Western Sydney International (WSI), as early as possible, prior to departure. WSI will request students to complete a number of processes including the Online Pre-Departure Tutorial & Quiz and participate in a university-wide Pre-Departure Session (face-to-face or via Zoom). These processes are not country specific and do not replace the sessions provided by program leaders or the Academic Unit.
      • Program-Specific Pre-Departure Orientation – these sessions are provided by the program leader or Academic unit. The information provided to students can include:  
        • Specific information particular to the program such as the cost, itinerary, risks, and academic program
        • On-site emergency plans and contact information (see 'Emergencies' below). Emergency plans should take into consideration the numerous potential issues that may arise while abroad such as  loss of phone service, power outages, political demonstrations, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. Plans should include how to quickly contact each other in an emergency.
        • Topics from the Before I Go (BIG) Checklist or from the other sections below.
      • Tips:
        • Invite campus experts to present at different portions of the training.
        • Have students do an assignment  prior to the pre-departure session (not just pre-reading).
        • Ensure some of the content is action-orientated, focusing on activities and scenarios overseas.
        • Assess the students comprehension of the content and use evaluations to improve future content.
        • Involve returned student ambassadors in the pre-departure planning and presentation.

    3.2 Culture Shock

    • Culture is a strong part of our lives. It influences the way we think and it easy for people to stick with what they know, rather than trying to understand other people’s perspectives and understandings along with culture, values, traditions and laws.
    • It is extremely important for participants to learn every aspect about the countries they are visiting.
      • Description of the host country culture - drink and alcohol, food, traditions, beliefs, values
      • Major areas of cultural difference - etiquette, discrimination, sex, and religion
      • Language resources (where applicable)
      • Apart from the information that program leaders can provide, participants are encouraged to research the destination thoroughly.
    • Culture Shock and Adjustment: Students may go through a number of emotional challenges the could affect their study and participation in a program. Living in a new culture requires students to learn a new set of cultural patterns and behaviours. The typical pattern of cultural adjustment often consists of distinct phases: Honeymoon, Crisis, Recovery, and Adjustment. It is advised that you discuss this phenomenon with students during pre-departure. For further advice see Cultural Adjustment: A Guide for International Students (University of Texas).
    • Another model to consider is the Jafari Model, which is a useful tool that provides insight and a framework for understanding staff and student travel experience and transformations associated with a Learning Abroad Experience. Further information about the model can be found in an article co-authored by Western staff: Jafari and Transformation: A model to enhance short-term overseas study tours
    • Provided below is video made by The Global Society about the Cultural Adaption Cycle

    3.3 Respectful Relationships Training Program

    • When participating in an overseas program, all participants must comply with all university policies and standards.This includes a commitment to preventing sexual assault and harassment, and promoting positive respectful relationships. Western Sydney University has agreed to participate in the development of a respectful relationships education program to be implemented across the Australian University sector. Through the Respect.Now.Always. campaign, the University has implemented a number of initiatives and strategies to affirm that sexual assault and harassment is not tolerated at this University. All commencing students will need to undertake from 2020 compulsory training on Respectful Relationships. For further information about these initiatives visit:
    • New Colombo Plan projects: DFAT does not tolerate sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment (SEAH) of any kind. In April 2019, the Secretary of DFAT released the DFAT Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) Policy. The PSEAH Policy sets out expectations and requirements for all DFAT staff and delivery partners to manage SEAH risks and incidents. It applies to all DFAT staff and all DFAT partners, in Australia and overseas. For further information about reporting to government about incidents overseas, visit the PSEAH website.

    3.4 CISaustralia Green Book - The Guide for Sustainable Learning Abroad

    • At CISaustralia, they understand that international education is about much more than simply seeing new places and having an incredible experience, it’s the first step on the journey to becoming a global citizen. That is why CIS has developed a Green Book to help students and staff understand the positive impact they can have on the world and what steps we can all take to lighten our environmental footprint when travelling abroad.
    • The guide is divided into three easy-to-follow sections:
      • Before You Go
      • Finding the lowest carbon flights
      • Cutting waste and saving resources
      • Packing light
      • Measuring you carbon footprint
      • Once You Get There
      • Getting around
      • Sustainable eating
      • Understanding local climate issues
      • Once You Come Home
      • High impact ways to tackle climate change
      • Change-making skills as a career boost
      • Share your experiences and keep learning
    • Students and staff can request an electronic version via the CISaustralia website (opens in a new window).

    3.5 Emergencies

    • Preemptive strategies:
      • It is advised that students and associated staff going abroad are provided with the preemptive strategies to deal with health and safety issues.
      • Instructors must provide students with a the 24-hour emergency contact (Word Travel Protection).
      • Instructors should explain to the students that they are required to inform them about any emergency and the information will be treated with the strictest confidentiality, and that it will be shared only on a “need to know” basis.
      • Students should be informed that if a crisis is grave enough to jeopardise his or her safety or well being, the emergency contact given on the affected student’s application will be informed.
    • Who to call for help:
      • Emergency calls can be made any time, day or night direct to World Travel Protection on +61 2 8907 5686 (Reverse Charge).
      • Download World Travel Protection information (opens in a new window) and quote membership number: CC112UWS
      • Please note, students and staff are not required to register to with World Travel Protection. All students and staff that are registered on the University Travel Management System (TEMS) are automatically covered under University’s travel insurance during the program course when they undertaking approved University activity.
      • When calling, please have the following information ready:
        • The number and precise location you are calling from
        • Your personal details
        • The nature of assistance that you require
      • For more information, please see the World Travel Protection (opens in a new window).
      • If you need to speak urgently to a Western Sydney International staff member due to a critical incident, call +61 414 274 211 or Western Sydney University Campus Security (24 hours) +61 1300 668 370
    • Who should I call first?
      • World Travel are the experts. They have in-depth knowledge about the country you are visiting, including advice on medical facilities, insurance, laws, security and diplomacy. The following steps are recommended:
        • 1. Call World Travel Protection first
        • 2. Inform supervisor and university
        • 3. If it is a crisis, see DFAT advice
    • What about insurance?
      • When a person informs World Travel about an incident that has occurred during your overseas program, a record of the incident will be documented in the event of a claim against the University's travel insurance. For more information about insurance see section 4.1.

    3.6 Critical Incident Guidelines

    Western Sydney University's Critical Incident Guidelines enable the University community to respond to serious events or issues in a timely manner with care, support, respect and flexibility. They also ensure that professionally trained staff who possess up to date training in critical incident response and/or psychological first aid, are involved at the appropriate time in managing or responding to an incident, and are able to provide information, resources and support to students, staff, family members and others involved when required. This procedure applies to all incidents at Western Sydney University, including International Mobility Programs. See Critical Incident Guidelines.

    4. General Information

    4.1 Passports

    Prior to travelling abroad, students 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).

    4.2 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
    • Advising Participants about Visas
      • Staff employed by the Australian Government or Western Sydney University are not permitted to provide direct advice to participants about visas. 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. It is advised that this information is given to participants during information sessions.

    4.3 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. 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 the information and policy provided on this site.
    • How to make an insurance claim
      • Before going abroad, travellers should Download World Travel Protection Information and have this handy when overseas
      • When an incident occurs, call Word Travel Protection +61 2 8907 5686 (Reverse Charge). A record of the incident will be documented in the event of a claim against the University's travel insurance.  Claims will need to be supported by all documents, medical certificates, police reports etc.
      • To submit a claim, go to the Staff and Student Overseas Travel Insurance webpage. Further information about the insurance and what is covered, can also be found on this page.

    4.4 Health Risks and Medical History

    • Although participating in an overseas activity is exciting for participants, it may have the potential to expose students and staff to serious health risks. It is advised that travellers visit a doctor 6 to 12 weeks before leaving Australia, have a checkup, discuss their future travel, and any medications they made need to be taking. It is also advised that they visit a dentist.
    • With respect to vaccines, it is advised the travellers do not wait until the last minute, since they may need several doses of a particular vaccine and time for their body to develop full immunity.
    • Further information and advice can be found by visiting Travel Doctor-TMVC, Smartraveller, and the Australian Government's Department of Health websites.
    • Exercise for students: What are the Health Risks for the country you are visiting?
    • If a participant need to take medication overseas, make sure it is legal in the host country by contacting the embassy or consulate.

    4.5 Mental Health and Travelling Abroad

    • If a student is facing any barriers that may affect their travel or experience in the host country, they are encouraged to access Western Sydney University's confidential counselling services as early as possible before going abroad.
    • Note: Face to face counselling is usually advised for more serious or ongoing problems.

    4.6 Centrelink Benefits

    • To continue payments, students need to provide Centrelink with evidence that they are continuing their studies at Western Sydney University, and will be participating in an overseas activity to the host country as a legitimate part of their study.Further information can be found on the Centrelink webpage:

    4.7 Collecting Payments from Students

    4.8 Program Deposits, Cancellations and Refund Policies

    • If a student is paying for any portion of a student mobility program, it is highly advised that a cancellation/refund policy is put in place and the students are made are made aware of rules.
    • Program leaders should decide whether a program deposit is required and the amount required. Charging a deposit ensures that a student that confirms a spot in a program are serious about participation and eliminates the need for a standby list.
    • The School/Institute is responsible for establishing a refund and cancellation policy. Cancellations will affect your budget and the ability to pay program costs that are not refundable or recoverable, such as travel arrangements and accommodation. If a student cancels the School/Institute will incur these costs.
    • Depending on the type of program, it is important to have refund policies and disclaimers in place.
    • Sample: Cancellation and Refund Policy:  Any participant who cancels at any time after the confirmation deposit has been received, will be responsible for the program deposit in addition to the minimum penalties upon cancellation from the program. These penalties are the minimum amounts due. Participants will be held financially liable for all non-recoverable costs that exceed these amounts. The information contained in the Cancellation and Refund Policy supersedes any verbal or other written information that participants may have received regarding this policy.
    • Cancellation Period

      Minimum Penalty

      60 days or more before start of program

      $400 plus program deposit

      45-59 days before start of program

      25% of full program fee

      30-44 days before start of program

      50 % of full program fee

      15-29 days before start of program

      75% of full program fee

      14 days or less before start of program

      Full program fee

    • Sample: Statement for Fee Changes:  The university reserves the right to vary program fees in the event of changes in exchange rates or price rises made by partners or other suppliers. If the cost of any service increases due to exchange rate fluctuations, price increases, tax changes or any other reason, participants are required to pay the increase when notified or may cancel a program which may result in cancellation fees.
    • Sample: Statement for Program Cancellations: The university reserves the right to cancel any program if there are insufficient registrants (in the rare case that minimum numbers may apply) or if the university determines it is in the best interest of the applicants’ safety and quality of programming to cancel the program. The university is not responsible for costs incurred by applicants preparing for a program. Should a program be cancelled for any reason, applicants will, where possible, be offered the option of positions in other university opportunities, or a full refund on all fees paid.

    4.9 Paying Students

    If you need to pay individual students a grant that is related to the overseas experience, please discuss further with Western Sydney International.

    4.10 Organising Flights

    • Securing the flights early: If you are booking students flights, tickets can potentially be secured in advance. For example if you are taking 10 students to China, you can book the flights via TEMS:
      • A deposit will be required for 10 students
      • Student details are not required until after acceptance in the program
      • The main disadvantage is if 10 students are not recruited, for instance only 8 students are selected, the deposit will be lost for 2 places
      • Please contact the contact the Western Sydney University Travel Team (opens in a new link) for further information.
    • Group Bookings: All group travel should 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 link).
    • Independent Bookings: In some circumstances, students are permitted to pay for costs directly to the agent and/or provider including visas etc

    5. Training and Information for Staff

    5.1 First Aid  Training for Instructors

    It is recommended that Project leaders or associated staff who are taking a group of students are trained in first aid. Staff at Western Sydney University may undertake the Surf Life Saving NSW first aid certification and recertification training. First aid training is delivered via flexible delivery, whereby 50% of the course is completed online prior to the practical session. First aid courses are managed through MyCareers Online (accessed through Staff Online). Search "First Aid" and register for the appropriate activity.

    5.2 Mental First Aid Training for Instructors

    Mental health problems are prevalent in our community with 1 in 5 people suffering from a mental illness (depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other).  It is recommended that Project leaders or associated staff who are taking a group of students are trained in Mental First Aid. Mental First Aid courses are managed through MyCareers Online (accessed through Staff Online). Search "Mental First Aid" and register for the appropriate activity.

    5.3 First Responder Training for Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment

    • Respect. Now. Always. is an initiative launched by Universities Australia to ensure that university campuses are places of safety and respect for all students and staff.  The Respect. Now. Alwayscampaign is about raising awareness in the university community that sexual assault and sexual harassment are completely unacceptable. Western Sydney University recognises the seriousness of sexual assault and sexual harassment - further information can found on the Mental, Health, and Wellbeing website (opens in a new window).
    • In the event that a student experiences sexual assault and sexual harassment while abroad, please contact Customer Care on 61 2 8907 5686 (24/7).
    • Western Sydney University offers First Responder Training for staff and students who may be the first point of contact for students or staff needing assistance with sexual assault or sexual harassment-related issues. The training is delivered by the Gendered Violence Research Network (UNSW) and facilitated by Western's Respect. Now. Always. campaign. For further information or queries, please contact or visit

    5.4 Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) Policy

    • In April 2019, the Secretary of DFAT released the DFAT Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) Policy. The PSEAH Policy sets out expectations and requirements for all DFAT staff and associated partners to manage SEAH risks and incidents. This includes a risk assessment to PSEAH Minimum Standards and a contract with all downstream partners.
    • If a project is funded by the New Colombo Plan, DFAT expects staff to report any alleged incident of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment related to the delivery of DFAT business within 2 working days of becoming aware of an alleged incident. Further information about this process can be found on the PSEAH webpage.

    5.5 The SBS Cross Cultural Competence Program

    The SBS Cultural Competence Program (CCP) is an online training course aimed at building capability around cultural diversity in the workplace. It features engaging multimedia learning modules and a wealth of resources. The program builds capability around cultural diversity, and participants will gain practical skills and cultural specific knowledge for use both at work and in everyday life. Currently the SBS Cultural Competence Program (CCP) is available at a small cost for individuals as an app for tablets and mobile devices. See the SBS Cross Cultural Competence Program.

    5.6 Standards of Good Practice

    5.7 Trip Leader Training

    If the proposal is approved and the correct agreements are in place, all staff taking students abroad are required to complete trip leader training every two years. Trip Leader Training (TLT) is conducted by WSI and will consist of online instruction and a face-to-face workshop. It is beneficial for program leaders any associated staff to complete trip leader training early, during the proposal phase. TLT discusses the entire learning abroad life cycle from proposal to return from overseas.  Further information will be provided soon.

    6. Arrival Overseas

    6.1 On-Site Orientation

    • On arrival students should be provided with a comprehensive on-site orientation that builds upon the pre-departure orientation students had already received prior to leaving (see Training and Support for Students above). The onsite orientation should discuss:
      • Academic expectations
      • Policies and procedures
      • The country, city, and community environment
      • Local culture’s norms and practices regarding gender, ethnic and religious diversity
      • Living arrangements
      • Behaviour expectations and disciplinary policies (see below)
      • Local travel
      • Excursions
      • Independent travel
      • Health and safety
      • Emergencies
      • General support
    • Instructors should discuss preventable accidents with participants, such as traffic patterns, pub and drinking culture, drug laws, unsafe swimming, and the type of things that can happen when walking down a street alone at night in a foreign city. It’s helpful to get very specific about safe and unsafe behaviour, such as certain types of sexual behaviour and how to dress and behave to avoid unwanted attention.
    • Students should be given a guided tour of the local area and shown how to use public transportation and identify daily living resources such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

    6.2 Student Conditions of Participation

    • Students should also sign a Condition of Participation when participating in an overseas program. Students must assume certain obligations to the University, prospective country and other participants in a program. It is important that students behave in an appropriate manner and must not endanger themselves or the group. See Conditions for Participation

    6.3 Student Behaviour

    Video: Pre-Departure

    Video: Critical Incidents

    Video: Challenges in-country

    Module 4: Evaluation

    On return from overseas it is time to review the program and gain feedback from participants. See Module 3: Evaluation.