Study Abroad Enrollment Processes Final Report
July 13, 2005
In April 2005, the Process Simplification (PS) office began working with the International
Studies Office (ISO) to review processes associated with study abroad in order to offer
recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of enrollment processes. Specific
processes for both ISO administered and ISO supported direct credit UVa programs were
examined from the time of application until trip departure. These processes involve the
collaboration of the ISO, Student Financial Services (SFS), the Office of the Dean of Students
(ODOS), the School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), and the College of Arts and
Process Simplification staff, Sarah Collie, coordinated the work. The following individuals were
consulted on an as-needed basis:
Mary Jo Bateman, International Studies Office; Rebecca Brown, International Studies Office;
Bill Fornadel, School of Continuing and Professional Studies; Bridget Ganey, International
Studies Office; Gloria Gates, College of Arts and Sciences; Yvonne Hubbard, Student Financial
Services; Daisy Hutcherson, Office of the Dean of Students; Murielle Kervizic, International
Studies Office; Donna Klepper, School of Continuing and Professional Studies; Carolyn
Laquatra, International Studies Office; John McQuilkin, Student Financial Services; Melvin
Miller, Student Financial Services; Frank Papovich, College of Arts and Sciences; Penny Rue,
Office of the Dean of Students; Shamim Sisson, Office of the Dean of Students; Kemper Steele,
Student Financial Services; and Tim Wojoski, International Studies Office
II. Approach to Work
Process Simplification staff initially met with Rebecca Brown, Director of the ISO, for a
comprehensive overview of study abroad programs and to define the work scope for this review.
This meeting was followed by a group meeting with all ISO staff involved with study abroad
programs. The focus of the group session was the articulation of the current step-by-step study
abroad processes. The group engaged in discussion to describe each step, who it involves, and
when it happens. The ISO staff were also asked to identify areas needing improvement in their
opinion as well as share ideas about how improvement might be achieved.
The intent of this work was not to re-design or re-engineer the study abroad process. In part, this
approach was taken because a new student system at the University is in the planning stage,
which will have the potential to alleviate some of these issues currently associated with study
abroad. For example, the primary reason for the SCPS’ involvement in the current process is due
to limitations of the current ISIS system. Additionally, ISO has recently purchased a new
software package to assist with the organization and tracking of study abroad applicant
information. The use of this software will also alter current processes. Therefore, the focus of
this initiative was to identify areas for incremental improvement that should collectively make a
significant improvement to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the enrollment process.
Throughout May and June, PS met with staff in the ODOS, SFS, SCPS, and the College of A&S
in order to understand their function, needs, and processes related to study abroad program
administration. By learning more about how each office works, PS is able to recommend ways
in which the ISO can better facilitate each office’s work.
III. Overview of Office Roles
International Studies Office – Study Abroad (ISO)
ISO supports and administers several types of study abroad programs, including UVa programs
and non-UVa Programs. These efforts entail program development, student advising and
enrollment, faculty advising, and risk management.
Office of the Dean of Students (ODOS)
The ODOS conducts a check of known criminal acts and/or inappropriate conduct committed by
University students to evaluate whether or not students engaged in criminal behavior pose a
threat to the community. This ODOS “clearance” is performed for each study abroad applicant to
an ISO program. The Senior Associate Dean of Students initially reviews and assesses the
severity of any recorded incident. If a student is flagged for a behavioral reason, the ISO follow-
ups with the student to assess a student’s suitability to participate in study abroad. If a student is
flagged for a medical reason, ODOS refers to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in
Student Health to assess the student’s suitability to participate in study abroad.
School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS)
SCPS serves several roles with study abroad programs. SCPS, serving as registrar and bursar,
manages course set-up in ISIS, registration, student payment, payment refunds, final grades,
student course evaluations and faculty pay.
Student Financial Services (SFS)
SFS coordinates all aspects of financial aid for ISO administered and ISO supported UVa direct
credit programs and non-UVa transfer credit programs, including the evaluation of applications
and distribution of financial aid funds. Financial aid is offered on a rolling basis, however, there
is a priority filing date.
College of Arts and Sciences (A&S)
A&S evaluates non-UVa study abroad courses for transfer credit eligibility, and student
eligibility to receive credit for courses based on GPA requirements. Students must be in good
standing at the end of the term prior to studying abroad and must have a minimum, cumulative
GPA of 2.5 during or at the end of the term prior to studying abroad.
IV. Current Study Abroad Enrollment Process
The current process map is attached in Appendix A showing the dynamic process from the time
of application to trip departure.
V. Recommendations for Improvement
The recommendations stated below were formulated with a specific focus on summer study
abroad programs; however, most of the recommendations are also applicable to J-term, Fall, and
Spring study abroad programs. In general, the recommendations are intended to improve the
coordination and communication of program aspects within ISO and with other key University
a. ISIS Check for ODOS Block to be Assumed by ISO
Currently, the ODOS initial clearance process involves 3 major steps for each student: 1) a check
for an ODOS block in ISIS, 2) a check of the ODOS’ Incident Report Information System (IRIS)
database, 3) a check of hard copy files. Since ISO is already logging onto ISIS to check each
student’s GPA, it is recommended that the ISO also perform the ISIS check for an ODOS
registration block on the RB screen. If ISO notes an “ODOS hold”, they will need to note this on
the spreadsheet of names sent weekly to ODOS for a clearance check. The assumption of this
step by ISO should expedite ODOS workload by reducing their check process to 2 steps.
It is also worthy of noting that the ODOS has made some changes to their internal clearance
process when a check reveals that a student has a recorded incident of either criminal behavior or
misconduct. These instances require additional review by ODOS staff and they have devised a
way to distribute the workload associated with these reviews based on the level of severity of the
recorded offense. This revised distribution of work should reduce the time required to assess and
provide clearance for a student with any noted inappropriate activity.
On a related note, ODOS has indicated that an ISO study abroad application deadline before
spring break is preferable to assist them better manage the workload associated with the
clearance process. Last year, study abroad applications increased in volume as the application
deadline neared. Having the spring break week to focus on processing clearances would assist
ODOS respond in a timely manner; Spring Break 2006 is scheduled for March 4 – March 12.
b. Revise the Study Abroad Financial Aid Brochure
The current brochure composed by ISO is a good attempt to explain financial aid to students.
However, the brochure is a bit lengthy and can likely be revised for even greater conciseness and
clarity. SFS should be consulted for the brochure content to ensure accuracy of the technical
information as well as leverage their expertise in expressing the information in understandable,
friendly terms. John McQuilkin in SFS has agreed to work with ISO on the brochure content.
Similarly, the ISO – Study Abroad website should be reviewed to ensure the same conciseness
and clarity about financial aid. It is recommended that when possible links be provided directly
to SFS web pages about study abroad financial aid instead of a separate ISO pages about
financial aid. By having inquiries directed to SFS, it reduces the chance of inaccuracies between
ISO financial aid web pages and SFS web pages. Additionally, when changes are necessary to
web page content, there is only one place for revision.
c. Enhance Communication about Financial Aid Offers
The SCPS, SFS, and ISO work closely to communicate when aid has been offered to a student,
which may impact a student’s decision to participate in the program and his/her registration
status. Historically, the communication of financial aid offers between SFS, SCPS, ISO and
other Schools has occurred through ad-hoc phone calls, letters, and emails. In order to enhance
the efficiency of communicating this information, it is recommended that a spreadsheet with all
financial aid applicants’ names be created to record and track the date of an aid offer and the
award amount. Ideally, the spreadsheet would be housed on a shared server so that multiple
parties, inclusive of the ISO, would have access to this real-time information. If this
arrangement is not possible, the spreadsheet could be sent on a regular basis as an email
attachment. The consolidation of this information should reduce the amount of time that offices
are engaged in back and forth communication.
d. Provide Contact Sheet by Program to SFS
Give the numerous study abroad programs and the varied administrative arrangements, it is
necessary that SFS knows who to contact regarding financial aid offers for each program. While
the SCPS is the key contact regarding registration for the majority of programs, there are many
other UVa programs administered at the School or Department level. This contact information
by program should be provided by ISO to SFS staff so they know who to contact for each
e. Provide Cost Sheets/Direct Credit Sheets
SFS must have cost sheets and the master direct credit sheet in order to evaluate financial aid
applications. If ISO is delayed in providing these sheets to SFS, financial aid offers will be
delayed, which may impact the registration time line.
f. Study Abroad Advisor Check Financial Aid Application for Completeness
This recommendation may not be applicable once the new study abroad software is
implemented. Currently, a student meets with a study abroad advisor to submit his/her
application to study abroad. The advisor should inquire if the student is planning to apply for
financial aid and if yes, review the necessary forms that are required for a completed financial
aid application. SFS has indicated that their work is often hampered by incomplete applications
and then they must follow up with the student to locate missing information, such as the transfer
credit sheet. The study abroad advisor is not expected to serve as financial aid counselor but
simply check to see that all the necessary paperwork is being filed with the financial aid
application. SFS could provide a checklist to ISO to assist them with this role.
g. Modify Financial Aid Priority Filing Date and Final Payment Date
In order to provide adequate time for processing financial aid and allowing students adequate
time for notice about aid status prior to final payment dates, the following revised dates are
recommended for summer 2006 study abroad programs. These dates reflect a slightly earlier
financial aid priority application date and a slightly later final payment date, creating a gap in
time to allow adequate time for processing: April 1 – SFS priority filing for study abroad
financial aid; April 18 – SCPS final payment date. Students filing financial aid applications by
the April 1 priority filing date will receive notification of aid before the April 18 final payment
date. Since SFS is also evaluating incoming and returning student financial aid applications in
the spring, there would be little advantage to having an even earlier priority filing date for study
abroad financial aid. At this time, there does not appear to be a need to revise fall or spring term
study abroad dates and the dates for J-term have already been agreed upon by all parties.
Additional consideration should be given to the financial aid deadlines as they relate to transfer
credit study abroad programs outside of UVa. Students applying to programs outside the
University must rely upon those institutions for the necessary information required to apply for
financial aid (e.g. costs sheets). In these cases, students’ inability to secure information from
outside institutions by the priority filing deadline may put them at a disadvantage in qualifying
for financial aid.
h. Revise Study Abroad Program Proposal
Minor revisions to the Study Abroad Program Proposal paperwork may assist in collecting
complete information used by the SCPS to establish the course. One overall suggestion is to
convert the entire program proposal to an electronic form to be completed by faculty. By having
a distinct place on a form to supply each item, it would help faculty make sure that they are
providing complete information. There should also be a stipulation that the program proposal
form must be completed in full to be considered and that each course must have a unique
syllabus. If the form is web-based, it is possible to deny submission of the proposal without the
form being completed in its entirety. Additionally, there a few places where the same
information is requested more than once (e.g. credit hours, course title, location…) so if these
duplications are omitted, the form will be shorter in length.
The current sectional breakdown of the proposal is a little unclear: Program Description, Course
Description, Integrated Syllabus, Teaching Methods, and Faculty Director Information. The
information contained in each section should be reviewed and see if re-organization would
All pertinent information required by SCPS to establish the course appears to be included in the
Study Abroad Program Proposal except Course Mnemonic and Course Sequence. Course
Sequence is a session-by-session breakdown of the course content.
i. Review Course Syllabus for Completeness Prior to Submitting to SCPS
ISO should thoroughly review each syllabus to ensure that all necessary information has been
provided. If any information is incomplete or missing, ISO should contact the faculty member to
follow-up and the syllabus should not be submitted to SCPS until it is complete. Also, ISO
should check that each course has a unique syllabus; the same syllabus for different courses
cannot be accepted by SCPS. ISO’s thorough review will save time that SCPS has to devote to
this review and tracking down missing information from faculty and the ISO.
VI. Additional Areas for Further Consideration
a. Review Former Process Simplification Recommendations for Current Applicability
In 2000, a PS work group was formed to examine key activities managed by ISO. While the
2000 work group’s scope was broader than the scope of this project, there is relevancy to the
current goal of improving efficiency and effectiveness. The 2000 work group focused on
improvements in the following areas: the process of "bringing in" new foreign faculty and staff
to the University and extending and/or changing their visa status once they are on Grounds; the
process of "bringing in" foreign undergraduate students; and the process of recruiting, advising,
admitting, and orienting students who participate in Study Abroad.
Appendix B is an excerpt of recommendations related to study abroad from the Work Group
Final Report (July 8, 2000). It is recommended that study abroad staff review these
recommendations to assess whether or not the suggestions were successfully implemented. If a
particular recommendation was not previously implemented, its applicability should be
reconsidered at this time.
b. Re-Consider Pre-application ODOS Clearance
ODOS participated in an initial discussion about having students obtain clearance from their
office prior to submitting an application to study abroad to the ISO. After considering the pros
and cons of this alternative, it was decided that the current process should remain intact with
minor modifications. After re-assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the revised process
next summer, the discussion of ODOS pre-clearance may or may not warrant further discussion.
c. Create a Study Abroad Advisory Committee
With an increased emphasis on and the anticipated expansion of study abroad programs, ISO
should consider establishing a formal advisory committee to oversee program growth and
development. Potential members should include study abroad faculty, the Vice Provost for
International Affairs, and key members of the offices involved in study abroad administration,
such as SCPS. A similar advisory committee model is used by Summer Session to build faculty
commitment, to enhance communications, and to encourage student participation.
d. Develop an Expanded Marketing Plan
Given the increasing number of study abroad options available to students and the importance of
minimum enrollment numbers for a program to make, ISO should consider developing a more
comprehensive, targeted marketing plan. To date, the main forums for disseminating
information about study abroad are the study abroad fairs, the web site, and word of mouth from
students and faculty. A detailed year-round marketing plan might alleviate some of the last
minute recruitment efforts often applied to assist a program in meeting minimum enrollments,
frequently in conjunction with the extension of application deadlines. New mediums might
include a brief session at summer orientation, emails, posters on UTS buses, etc. It is
recommended that the responsibility of marketing and promotion be assigned to one primary
staff member. While all staff would need to play an integral role in program promotion, one
person should be assigned the specific responsibility to ensure a coordinated effort.
e. Centralize All Study Abroad Program Administration in the ISO
It is recommended that the ISO work collaboratively with senior administration to achieve
greater centralization of study abroad administration. This centralization, a single point of
contact, would facilitate improved administrative efficiency as well as consistency. Much of the
complexity and ambiguity associated with study abroad programs is attributable to the variation
by program. Students and faculty are confused about whom to go to for what information or
action. Additionally, offices engaged in administrative processes have to tailor their work based
on the program and who is responsible for the program management. Further, the
decentralization has resulted in different standards for different programs within the University.
For example, all applicants for any ISO study abroad program are subject to the ODOS clearance
process. However, applicants in all programs that are not under the umbrella of the ISO are not
necessarily subject to the same ODOS clearance before participating in study abroad.
f. Shift Transfer Credit Eligibility Review to the ISO from A&S
The ISO and A&S should discuss the future possibility of ISO evaluating courses for transfer
credit, relieving A&S of this added responsibility. This shift would further contribute to
centralized processes and promote more efficient processing.
g. Assess the Need for Additional Resources to Support Study Abroad
Given the University’s commitment to increase participation in study abroad as articulated in the
2020 Plan, there should be additional attention given to the resources required to administer a
greater volume of study abroad programs. The need for resources extends beyond just the ISO
but encompasses all offices engaged in the enrollment process, including SFS, ODOS, SCPS,
A&S. Supporting data should be provided to senior administrators to inform their decision-
making about resource allocation.
VII. Critical Success Factor
Give the interdependent nature of study abroad program administration, effective communication
throughout all processes is imperative for success. It is recommended that regular meetings as
well as emails and memos be organized by ISO throughout the year to facilitate dialogue among
these identified offices. Additionally, study abroad materials should be regularly updated to
document current processes, procedures and policies to ensure shared understanding. When
changes are deemed necessary, the offices cited should be consulted for their input prior to
implementing a change. This consultative approach will likely yield even more productive,
Excerpt from the International Studies Office/Process Simplification Work Group Final Report
on July 8, 2000
A. Study Abroad:
1. The office should increase its number of professional SA advisors, to meet the volume of
students requesting advising (see D1 and D2 below).
2. ISO should update and expand the Study Abroad information available on its website to
improve students’ access to information and broaden their understanding of program
requirements and opportunities. The website should include information on what steps are
necessary to participate in specific programs and when these steps must be completed, and
indicate ways students may obtain assistance in this process. In addition, the website should
include all institutional study abroad forms to facilitate students’ processing of required
paperwork. Finally, the website should serve as a mechanism for Study Abroad staff to receive
questions/input from students and other members of the University community regarding their
needs in this area.
Specific enhancements to the website would include the following:
A) Mission statement and goals for Study Abroad (SA). These statements would help
students and the community at large better understand the University’s objectives
regarding the program and ISO’s role in achieving these objectives.
B) A section on “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ’s) for students and parents, with
email links to SA advisors for answers to questions not included. These FAQ’s should
be updated regularly, adding answers to questions that advisors receive most often.
C) A list of SA professional staff with office hours and email links.
D) A caveat for non-U.Va. students (per the UC-Irvine website) stating that the policies,
costs, and available options are applicable only to University students. This caveat is
important, given that ISO wishes to provide general information regarding its
programs to any visitors while ensuring their understanding that the more specific
information regarding tuition, transfers of credit, etc., is applicable only to U.Va.
E) A process map to give students an easy-to-use visual aid to the steps involved in
participating in Study Abroad (i.e., recruiting, advising, admitting, and pre-departure
orientation). The process map should include students’ deadlines and responsibilities.
This information should also be available in linear form, as an application checklist,
with timeline and calendar, so that students can access information in whichever
format is easier for them to understand.
F) An on-line guide to Study Abroad
G) An electronic version of the pre-departure orientation packet which participating
students receive, including a pre-departure checklist.
H) Updated information on all U.Va. programs, organized alphabetically. Programs
could also be accessible by clicking on a large world map. The website should also
provide links to affiliate programs (e.g., IES, DIS), exchange partners, and major
external programs (e.g., Syracuse, Butler), so that students can readily access
information on all of the SA programs in which University students regularly
I) A list of approved consortium programs, for which the University accepts credits and
provides financial aid. In addition, information should be included on University
policies regarding non-consortium programs, in which U.Va. students are welcome to
participate but for which they may not receive course credit or financial assistance.
Links to study abroad databases (e.g., StudyAbroad.com), should be offered, together
with caveats regarding University policies, transfer of credit, etc.
J) An on-line application for peer advisors
K) Information on all SA peer advisors, including their geographical areas of
specialization, contact information, and email links.
L) A list of undergraduate advisors with email links.
M) Links to other U.Va. departments (e.g., Financial Aid) and external sources of
information (e.g., insurance companies) so that students and parents may easily access
other sources of related information.
N) Electronic versions of all required forms (e.g., Leave of Absence form, Transfer of
Credit form), which students can either submit electronically or print, fill out, and
submit as a hard copy.
O) Links to University departments which lead Study Abroad programs (e.g., Hispanic
Studies for the Valencia program, School of Continuing and Professional Studies for
its Oxford program), so that students can readily access all University SA information
from the ISO website.
P) Updated information for returned SA students
Q) A page covering requirements and questions regarding transfers of credit
R) Information on the SA library, including its contents and hours.
S) A separate page for visiting SA program reps, with links to Newcomb Hall, so that
they can make reservations directly in advance of visits to Grounds.
T) Thumbnail photos from the Study Abroad photo contest, both to publicize the contest
and to provide potential participants and the public with photographs depicting foreign
campuses, accommodations, landscapes, etc. Thumbnail photos from previous years’
contests could be archived on the site and available for viewing.
U) A chat room for past, present, and potential study abroad students. This chat room
would foster communication among undergraduates regarding study abroad
possibilities and experiences and encourage a sense of community among the students.
The chat room should include a caveat reminding students that, while input/advice
from other students is encouraged, it cannot replace the expertise available from SA
advisors. Such a caveat would both encourage students to avail themselves of
advising from SA advisors and discourage the proliferation of fallacious information.
SA advisors should regularly monitor the chat room to gauge the quality of advice
given and offer real-time “office hours” in the SA chat room for online advising.
3. The office should employ a short, “bypassable” phone menu to ensure that each call receives
at least basic information and is tracked.
4. The director of Study Abroad and/or the ISO director should serve on Grounds-wide
committees to build a study abroad presence at U.Va., to build faculty commitment, and to
encourage student participation.
5. The office should develop a process map which could be given to students to help them
understand the steps involved and their responsibilities for study abroad.
6. The office should increase its involvement in program-specific pre-departure orientation
sessions by partnering with departments. This step would improve the information available to
students; appropriately expand the office’s role in orientation; and improve the coordination
between departments and ISO staff.
7. The office should reorganize the SA library, color-coding information by program rather than
year, to improve accessibility and searchability.
8. The office should use an Access database to track current, prospective, past, and alumni SA
9. The office should keep a peer advisor in the ISO lobby during office hours to facilitate
advising by greeting visitors; directing them to the library or to staff offices; answering basic SA
questions; writing down names, contact information, and questions requiring answers from SA
advisors; and setting appointments with SA advisors. Such a policy would ensure that a visitor’s
initial experience in the office is as positive and fruitful as possible. It would also build expertise
among the peer advisors, who would receive training in the information they would need to
10. The office should develop an official logo/motto for Study Abroad (e.g., UVArrived . . . Now
Go Away) to build awareness on Grounds both of the SA office and of University SA
possibilities. This motto could be included in professionally-designed program posters in
Admission packets and used for recruiting (e.g., giving away posters, pens, bookmarks, etc., with
the motto printed on them). The office should hold a contest among undergraduates to determine
11. The office should run a Study Abroad fair, ideally in September (although the office would
have to coordinate with JMU and VMI, since representatives for external programs travel from
one fair to another) to increase on-Grounds awareness of study abroad opportunities and
facilitate SA recruiting and advising.
12. The office should strive to answer emailed questions in a more timely manner, to ensure that
students are receiving information quickly and to build goodwill with potential participants. The
office should track the questions it receives, so that it can provide the most up-to-date FAQ’s on
its website (see above).
13. The office should explore the possibility of no longer collecting Leave of Absence fees itself,
if there is a way to manage this process more effectively (e.g., accepting credit cards so that
payment could be made directly to the Bursar’s Office). However, if this step would prove more
time-consuming to participating students, the office should explore other ways of managing this
element of the process more efficiently.
14. Information on the SA office should be included in packets sent to prospective students
during the summer, to build awareness and interest in international study.
15. The director of Study Abroad should be given professional and/or dean’s status and paid