Faculty & Advisors

AIFS Program Standards of Good Practice for
Education Abroad

Quick Links

1. Mission
  • Values we are committed to
2. Student Learning and Development
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • Academic Growth
  • Student Development
  • Language and Communication
3. Academic Framework
  • Academic Credit
  • Academic Coursework
  • Academic Advising & Support
  • Curriculum
  • Internships & Field Research
4. Student Preparation
  • Pre-Departure Info
  • On-Site Orientation
  • Re-Entry Resources
5. Student Selection and Code of Conduct
6. Policies & Procedures
  • Policies & Procedures
  • Program Assessment
7. Organizational and Program Resources
  • Faculty and Instructors
  • Administrative and Support Personnel
  • Financial Resources
  • Learning and Academic Support Facilities
  • Student Housing
8. Health, Safety, Security, and Risk Management
  • Program Development
  • Health and Safety of Students, Faculty, and Staff
  • Risk Management
  • Housing
9. Ethics & Integrity


1. Mission

AIFS has a formally-adopted mission statement for its overall operations and for its individual divisions that is known and accepted by its staff and board members. AIFS reviews the degree to which it is achieving its overall mission and its mission statement on a regular basis.

Our Vision

We bring the world together.

Our Mission

To provide the highest quality educational and cultural exchange programs to enrich the lives of young people throughout the world.

Values we are committed to

  • Excellence in programs, operations, and people
  • Respect and understanding of different cultures
  • Exceptional caring support for our program participants to ensure their safety and well-being
  • Honest, equitable, and non-discriminatory treatment of program participants, partners, and employees
  • Technological innovation
  • Teamwork and collaboration both within the organization and with partners
  • Encouragement of employee initiative and professional development
  • Responsible financial stewardship

2. Student Learning and Development

AIFS has education objectives to foster student learning and development. Assessment data is gathered and analyzed on a regular basis and utilizes the information to monitor, maintain, support, and improve student success.

Intercultural Understanding

  • Students are offered opportunities (a series of online exercises) to reflect on self-awareness, cultural identity, and the adjustment process before, during, and after their experience abroad.
  • Information on cultural traits of the host culture is presented in the on-site orientation, and staff demonstrate respect for differences in customs and values.
  • Course(s) on various aspects of the host culture are part of the core curricular offerings.
  • Opportunities for students to integrate into the host culture exist through student clubs and activities, exchange partners, homestays, and/or volunteer placements.
  • Assessment is made of students’ cultural learning by administering the Global Perspectives Inventory (GPI) pre- and post-programs to a representative population of participants.
  • Students report on the way in which program components helped them acquire adaptive skills.
  • Program alumni report on the way in which the program helped them learn adaptive behaviors for diverse work settings.
  • Data on students’ intercultural development is utilized to modify and enhance program aspects such as curriculum, orientation, and student services.

Academic Growth

  • AIFS offers courses that progress students toward their degree requirements.
  • Courses utilize the relevant resources of the local/host culture to teach the subject matter.
  • Syllabi and/or course outlines for AIFS courses are readily available.
  • Syllabi for host institution courses are available or sought when requested.
  • Course pre-requisites are clearly stated, and placement tests are administered where necessary (e.g., language courses).
  • Students are exposed to both different pedagogies and different perspectives in the classroom.
  • Students placed in regular university courses are advised by the Resident Directors on the differences in the academic systems and offered ongoing academic advising and support.
  • Student achievement is measured against the learning objectives stated for each course.

Student Development

  • Students have opportunities for skill development (e.g., leadership, maturity, adaptation to diverse work environments) outside the classroom in activities such as volunteering, student clubs, or internships.
  • Students are encouraged to establish personal goals for their learning (academic, language, cultural) and development.
  • Students are asked to reflect and report on their personal growth upon completion of the program.
  • Resident staff both challenge and encourage students to become more independent and self-motivated through their daily interaction and in various meetings and events.

Language and Communication

  • AIFS encourages the development of language and/or intercultural communication skills.
  • Students are given a placement test to help determine the appropriate language course(s).
  • The language curriculum includes information on cultural norms, values, and etiquette.
  • Students placed in regular university courses are advised by the Resident Directors on differences in the academic systems and offered ongoing academic advising and support.
  • Program activities provide an opportunity for students to use the host language.

3. Academic Framework

AIFS publishes and makes available information on its affiliations with host universities and reviews program effectiveness regularly, implementing changes as necessary.

Academic Credit

  • AIFS has established policies and procedures for awarding credit and grades.
  • The awarding of U.S. credit and grades is based on established international equivalencies (when credit is issued by a non-U.S. institution).
  • Resident Directors regularly monitor the awarding of grades by the host country faculty.
  • AIFS programs are hosted by universities with degree-granting status in the host country.
  • Transcripts are issued to the home institution with sufficient information to evaluate and post academic credit.

Academic Coursework

  • AIFS offers courses accepted by U.S. institutions toward degree requirements.
  • Students are informed of course requirements.
  • Where applicable, students may enroll directly in courses at universities that meet the academic standards of the host country.

Academic Advising & Support

  • Students are required to show acceptance of AIFS program courses by home institution upon application to the program.
  • Students receive tips on managing differences in the academic system, teaching styles, and expectations during the on-site orientation.
  • On-site staff are knowledgeable about registration and enrollment procedures in order to readily assist students.
  • Students may consult with on-site staff to seek academic advice or express concerns throughout the program duration.
  • Students have sufficient access to academic resources in the appropriate language at the program site and/or local libraries.
  • Students have convenient access to online resources for academic purposes.

Curriculum

  • The curriculum offers courses focused on the host country – such as its culture, language, history, politics, economics, arts, and society.
  • The curriculum engages students in critical thinking and intellectual growth.
  • The curriculum and its related activities promote student learning and development.
  • Appropriate methodology is used to instruct in each discipline.

Internships & Field Research

  • Attending meetings and relevant preparation by students is required for an internship or research project.
  • Interns enroll in an accompanying academic seminar (and in language courses, if host country’s official language is other than English).
  • Intern sites offer the opportunity for students to participate as well as observe and analyze a host-country business or organization.
  • Interns are monitored by the workplace supervisor and a faculty member.
  • Academic requirements for internships follow AIFS (host university) guidelines and practices.

4. Student Preparation

AIFS regularly assesses student needs, providing advising and orientation support.

Pre-Departure Info

  • Information is provided to accepted students on academics, accommodation, travel arrangements, health precautions and care, safety considerations, and information on expenses and budgeting.
  • Relevant information on passports and immigration visas is provided to students in a timely manner.
  • Students may consult with AIFS staff with questions or concerns on an ongoing basis.
  • Students receive information on the process of cultural adjustment.

On-Site Orientation

  • AIFS staff deliver a comprehensive orientation program covering academic expectations, policies, and procedures; living arrangements; behavior expectations and disciplinary policies; independent travel; and health/safety and emergency information.
  • Students are given guided opportunities in the local area to use public transportation and identify daily living resources such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc).
  • Students receive information about the local culture and area including laws and customs.
  • AIFS Staff present information to students on the local culture’s norms and practices regarding gender, racial, ethnic, and religious diversity.

Re-Entry Resources

  • Information on the re-adjustment period upon returning home is provided to students.
  • Suggestions are offered to students to expand upon their international experience once back home.
  • Resources are provided to students to help them identify the personal, academic, and professional skills gained from their experience abroad.

5. Student Selection and Code of Conduct

AIFS is committed to, maintains, and makes available the information on fair and appropriate policy on student selection and behavioral code of conduct.

  • AIFS enrolls degree-seeking undergraduate students who are in good academic standing
  • AIFS supports the study abroad admission requirements of students’ home institutions
  • Students are directed to follow the study abroad application requirements of their home institution
  • AIFS reviews, in cooperation with the home institution, each student’s judicial record
  • AIFS supports the academic requirements of its partner institutions abroad. • Eligibility requirements are clearly stated in program materials (print and web).
  • Where applicable, students meet the stated admissions requirements for target language study.
  • AIFS does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

6. Policies & Procedures

AIFS has policies and procedures that govern its education abroad programs and practices and regularly reviews them to assure their effectiveness and appropriateness.

Policies & Procedures

  • Academic information is clear and accurate in print and web media.
  • Published program cost information is complete and accurate, and sound estimates are given for out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Published cancellation refund policies are clear and accurate.
  • AIFS has an established scholarship fund to assist students.
  • Marketing activities follow ethical guidelines and principles.
  • Field staff demonstrate respect for institutional policy regarding campus visits and program promotion.
  • Advising practices support students’ academic and personal development.
  • Established published policies govern AIFS programs. • Established policies govern AIFS personnel.

Program Assessment

  • AIFS has established program standards.
  • A program evaluation is administered to all student participants for each program term.
  • Data on student intercultural development is collected and shared on a regular basis.
  • Program site visits are offered on a regular basis to faculty and staff of U.S. institutions.
  • Alumni are requested to complete a survey to assess the personal and professional impact of their experience.
  • Staff in the U.S. and abroad participate in short- and long-range planning and goal-setting.
  • AIFS shares assessment findings with all internal staff and faculty and externally with the Board of Academic Advisors and affiliate institutions.

7. Organizational and Program Resources

AIFS provides adequate financial and staffing resources to support its programs.

Faculty and Instructors

  • AIFS partners with respected universities in each host country that are recognized/accredited by the respective ministries of education.
  • Faculty and instructors have appropriate credentials in the host country.
  • Faculty have the required expertise in their respective fields, together with the ability to teach and a commitment to international students.
  • Faculty are made aware of differences in learning styles and the academic requirements of U.S. colleges and universities.
  • Faculty participate in developing new courses that may be designed for international students and are approved by their respective credit-granting institution.

Administrative and Support Personnel

  • AIFS staff hold the proper and required qualifications for their positions.
  • AIFS staff demonstrate courtesy and respect and are committed to the best interests of the student.
  • AIFS staff participate in annual performance evaluations.
  • Staff participate in professional organizations’ activities related to their area of responsibilities.
  • AIFS seeks to provide staff with opportunities for professional development.
  • Resident Directors establish and maintain relationships with academic and local community members.

Financial Resources

  • AIFS practices responsible financial stewardship.
  • The organization is managed by a Board of Directors.
  • Financial oversight is appropriate to the size and complexity of AIFS.
  • AIFS retains sufficient resources to address crises or unanticipated financial changes.

Learning and Academic Support Facilities

  • AIFS program center staffing and facilities are adequate to support their enrollments each term.
  • Students have adequate study space.
  • Students have access to adequate library resources.
  • Students have access to adequate equipment and technologies to support their academic requirements.
  • Reasonable accommodations are provided to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities. AIFS works with the student, the student’s home institution and our host university abroad to develop a support plan to address the needs of the student.
  • Every effort is made to accommodate students with physical challenges. Access issues are dependent on local facilities and resources. AIFS works with students and our local contacts to evaluate the accommodations that can be provided.
  • AIFS facilities and grounds undergo routine maintenance and have established plans for preventative and deferred maintenance.

Student Housing

  • Students are provided with appropriate and secure housing.
  • Housing contracts abide by in-country laws.
  • Housing is regularly inspected.
  • Established procedures support a housing change when warranted.

8. Health, Safety, Security, and Risk Management

AIFS assures the health, safety, and security of its students, faculty, and staff at every step of the program process with established policies and procedures as well as at student orientation and faculty training.

Program Development:

  • The overall safety and political and economic stability of a country are considerations in selection of new program sites.
  • Experts in local laws are consulted regarding risk management, employment law, and other relevant certifications of staff.
  • AIFS complies with local laws and regulations.

Health and Safety of Students, Faculty, and Staff

  • General travel safety advice and country-specific health information are provided to students prior to departure.
  • Comprehensive insurance (medical, evacuation, cancellation) is provided to every program participant.
  • Students may request information prior to departure about managing a medical condition abroad.
  • Resident staff refer students to English-speaking medical clinics and physicians for sickness, accidents, or mental health care.
  • Staff are trained to recognize and respond to suspected mental health problems and substance abuse.

Risk Management

  • AIFS maintains adequate insurance coverage for liability and indemnification.
  • AIFS has established criteria for its contractual agreements with outside providers for services such as transportation, housing, facilities, and technology.
  • Regular risk assessments are conducted by administrative staff and legal counsel.
  • Students must abide by the AIFS conduct code.
  • Response coverage by AIFS staff is available 24-hours, 365 days/year on every program site and with the U.S. and London-based offices.
  • Students, faculty, and staff are provided information on safety and emergency procedures.
  • Students receive timely notification of local health and safety concerns.
  • Health and safety incidents are properly reported following AIFS policy. • Crisis management plans are reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

Housing

  • Student housing meets AIFS health and safety requirements.
  • Student housing is located within proximity to public transportation access.
  • Homestay hosts/families meet AIFS selection criteria.
  • AIFS staff manage any conflicts that occur between student and homestay host or landlord.

9. Ethics & Integrity

  • AIFS educates its employees on ethical behavior and adheres to a code of ethics aligned with the Forum’s Code of Ethics for Education Abroad.
  • AIFS promotes respect of the cultures and values of the countries in which it operates programs and from which it draws its student participants.
  • Students, faculty, and staff abide by the home and host country laws and regulations.
  • AIFS follows established guidelines on student rights to privacy and confidentiality.
  • AIFS staff are actively involved in the leadership and training activities of relevant professional organizations.
  • AIFS sponsors the publication of various resources for international educators.
  • AIFS regularly sponsors other organizations in the field that promote support for diverse student participation in education abroad and the re-entry process for students.
  • AIFS staff inform themselves of current trends and issues in U.S. and international higher education.
  • AIFS does not discriminate in hiring or admissions on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.