Additional Considerations Relevant for All Study Abroad Programs
One of the surest ways for a university to mitigate study abroad program risks is to create a central office dedicated to supporting international activities, as described in the Home Campus section.
A central international office typically works with an institution's provost and president's offices, and with school-level stakeholders, to develop and maintain the following:
- Universitywide strategies and policies on international activities.
- Communication plans to ensure that policies are followed in home and host countries.
- A checklist for students going on a study abroad program.
- Centralized databases to track students studying abroad, international agreements and contracts entered into, program names and locations, emergency preparedness plans, and other important information.
An institution with any type of study abroad program is also strongly encouraged to regularly consult with internal legal counsel to ensure program compliance with federal and state laws. These laws can apply to even the smallest outsourced study abroad program.
To take but one example, many study abroad programs are subject to the Clery Act, a federal law requiring that U.S. colleges and universities disclose statistics about certain crimes committed on or near their campuses. The act extends to offcampus properties, including facilities used to educate and house students abroad. As a result, study abroad administrators may be required to contact the foreign partner or local authorities to obtain crime statistics and then disclose those statistics.
An institution running a study abroad program must also ensure program compliance with such federal laws as IRS Form 990 (Schedule F), IRS Form TDF 90-22.1 (FBAR), and Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).
Information on legal support for international programs can be found in the Legal Entities and General Legal Support section. Information on compliance and reporting can be found in the Statutory Compliance and Reporting section.
An institution running any type of study abroad program should also consider hiring host-country legal counsel and/or a third-party company specializing in international expansion. Running afoul of host-country laws related to employment, corporate and personal taxes, export controls, and data-privacy can cause an institution serious financial and reputational damage.
Host-country legal counsel can also be extremely useful when vetting potential host-country partners. Thoroughly vetting partners, as described in the IRC's Collaborating with Another Institution Abroad section, is a critical step when running any type of study abroad program. A partnering institution may make false claims, including but not limited to claims involving host-country legal establishment, use of the university's name, the right to run academic programs in the host country, and the transferability of the U.S. institution's federal tax-exempt status to the host country.