It is advised that all participants are provided with comprehensive information about the overseas activity at least 3 months prior to participation. 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 information sessions
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 information sessions
These sessions are delivered by the program leader or Academic unit. The sessions could include instruction and information about the following:
- ☐ Information particular: cost, itinerary, risks, and academic program
- ☐ Passports
- ☐ Visas
- ☐ Insurance - what is covered and what is not
- ☐ Risk and prevention of COVID-19 and other diseases during the activity
- ☐ Mental Health
- ☐ Centrelink benefits
- ☐ OS-HELP
- ☐ Paying for the Program
- ☐ Program Deposits, Cancellations and Refund Policy
- ☐ Student Grants
- ☐ Flights
- ☐ Cultural adaption
- ☐ Sexual Assault and Harassment
- ☐ Child Protection
- ☐ Student Behaviour
- ☐ Conditions of Participation
- ☐ Emergency plans
- ☐ Invite campus experts to present at different portions of the training.
- ☐ Have students complete an assignment prior to the pre-departure session. Ensure some of the content is action-orientated, focusing on activities and scenarios overseas.
- ☐ Assess the student’s comprehension of the program and use evaluations to improve future content.
- ☐ Involve returned student ambassadors in the pre-departure planning and presentation.
Flights and Accommodation
All group travel must be booked through the University Travel and Expense Management System (TEMS). For advice about booking travel, contact the Western Sydney University Travel Team.
Prior to travelling abroad, 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).
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.
Please be aware that prospective participants may have different backgrounds from each other, such as places of birth and/or citizenship, which may affect visa requirements. Due this phenomena, 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.
Health Risks and Medical History
- It is advised that travellers visit a doctor 6 to 12 weeks before leaving Australia, have a check-up, discuss their future travel, and any medications they made need to be taking. It is also recommended that they visit a dentist.
- With respect to vaccines, travellers should 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.
- If a participant needs to take medication overseas, make sure it is legal in the host country by contacting the embassy or consulate.
- Further information and advice can be found by visiting Travel Doctor-TMVC, Smartraveller, and the Australian Government's Department of Health websites.
First Aid Training
- It is advised that all project leaders have a current First Aid Certificate prior to going abroad. Western staff may have the option of First Aid training via My Career Online. Some students may also require a First Aid certificate for participation in particular units and/or fieldwork, research or clinical placements. Information about training can be found on the National Training Information Service website (opens in a new window).
- 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.
- 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.
Mental First Aid Training
To support students during the project life cycle, leaders and staff have the option of participating in Mental First Aid training via My Career Online.
- 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 Travelling outside Australia
A large majority of student mobility experiences at Western Sydney University are funded by OS-HELP. This is a deferred HELP debt loan for Australian citizens 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.
Collecting Payments from Students
If you need to collect payments from students, Western Sydney University uses the One Stop shopping cart. To access the system, it is advised that you speak with your School Manager or Management, Accountant. The following process need to be followed:
Program Deposits, Cancellations and Refund Policies
- If a participant is paying for any portion of a program, it is highly advised that a cancellation/refund policy is put in place and they are made are made aware of rules.
- Program leaders should decide whether a program deposit is required and the amount. Charging a deposit ensures that a participant confirms their place in a program, and they are serious about participation. This potentially 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 may 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.
- 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.
Paying Student Grants
- If you need to pay individual students a grant that is related to the overseas experience, please discuss further with Western Sydney International.
- Students may go through a number of emotional challenges the could affect their participation in a program. Travelling and living in a new culture requires students to learn a new set of cultural patterns and behaviours and therefore it is extremely important for participants to learn every aspect about the countries they are visiting and pre-empt their expectations. Encourage participants to research the destination thoroughly.
- Traditions, beliefs, values, food, drink and alcohol
- Major areas of cultural difference - etiquette, discrimination, gender, sex, and religion
- During pre-departure training, it is also good to discuss the distinct phases of cultural adjustment with participants: Honeymoon, Crisis, Recovery, and Adjustment - see Cultural Adjustment: A Guide for International Students (University of Texas) and The Global Society about the Cultural Adaption Cycle.
- 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 experiences 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.
Sexual Exploitation, Assault and Harassment
- 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. See Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) for further information, training and reporting.
- The University of Western Sydney University is committed to demonstrating high standards of personal and professional conduct at all times. When participating in an overseas program, students must assume certain obligations to Western Sydney University the prospective country and other participants in a program. Provided below are relevant policies:
- If the instructor of a program or staff member of a partner organisation determines that a student participant fails to meet the behavioural expectations, the student may be asked to leave the program. If a student has been asked to leave under such circumstances and they have paid a program fee, they will not receive a refund and will be required to pay back any grants or scholarships.
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
- It is advised that students and associated staff going abroad are provided with the pre-emptive strategies to deal with health and safety issues. 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.
- 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.
- World Travel Protection: Emergency calls can be made any time, day or night direct to World Travel Protection on +61 2 8907 5686 (Reverse Charge). 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.
- Prior to going abroad, all participants should Download World Travel Protection information
- When calling for assistance, have the following information ready:
- The number and precise location calling from
- Personal details
- The nature of assistance required
- Insurance: When a person informs World Travel, a record of the incident will be documented in the event of a claim against the University's travel insurance.
- ☐ Provide participants with pre-emptive strategies to deal with numerous health and safety scenarios
- ☐ Provide participants with a the 24-hour emergency contact (Word Travel Protection)
- ☐ Explain to participants that they must inform you about any emergency and the information will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.
- ☐ Explain to participants that if a crisis is grave enough to jeopardise his or her wellbeing, their emergency contact may be contacted.
If you require any assistance, contact the Manager Short Term Mobility.