Standards of Good Practice as a Tool for Improvement

Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, 6th EditionBy Amelia J. Dietrich, Ph.D.

There’s a lot that goes into creating superior education abroad experiences—let the sixth edition of the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad by The Forum on Education Abroad, be your guide!

This comprehensive tool for the field of international education can be used to guide program development; evaluate the quality of programs; advocate for resources; train new professionals; educate stakeholders like parents, faculty, and students; and establish and maintain respectful, sustainable relationships between partners.

Because The Forum is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization (SDO), it’s important that The Forum update the Standards regularly to be sure we’re holding the field to the highest quality for U.S. students. This sixth edition went into effect in July 2020, but we’ve been setting the industry standards since 2007.

Browse the digital version of the Standards»

How Is This Edition Different than Previous Editions?

The latest edition of the Standards places equity, diversity, and inclusion as cornerstones for best practice in education abroad program design and management and student recruitment and support. Other new facets highlight the essential nature of transparency and collaboration with partners and the importance of considering a program’s impact on the local culture, economy, and environment. Get an overview of how the Standards apply to our work and specific examples of how they can help identify strengths and areas for improvement on the quest for more equitable, inclusive, and diverse education abroad programs.

How to Use the Standards of Good Practice (6th Edition)

Whether you’re new to the field of international education or you’ve been around for a few editions of the Standards, it’s always good to brush up on the latest version to be sure you’re up-to-date on the best practices for our industry.

Where Do I Start?

Sections 4, 5 and 6 are the core of the Standards of Good Practice. Each clause and sub-clause outlines an aspect of good practice for education abroad. Shall, should, and can indicate the expectations set by each clause:

Shall indicates minimum requirements; Should indicates recommendations; Can indicates further possibilities for improvement

  • Refer to section 3 if you are unsure of the definition of a particular term.
  • Refer to the Topical Index at the end of the publication to identify all clauses and sub-clauses related to a particular theme.

Exercises to Improve Your Current Program Design & Practices

Consult the Prompts for Self-Assessment for questions that will help you identify areas of strength and room for improvement in your own programs and practices. (Related prompts are also listed at the bottom of the webpage for each clause.)

Learn from Others Using the Member Resources

Log in to view examples of best practices by Forum members and vetted by experienced colleagues in the field in the Member Resources section at the bottom of each Standards webpage.

  • These examples can provide inspiration, point you in the right direction when you’re feeling lost for where to start, and be adapted to meet the needs of your programming. (But don’t forget to give credit where credit is due!)

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion as GUIDING PRINCIPLES in Education Abroad

For example, the Standards state: “4.4 Each organization shall prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Evaluate how your organization is doing by asking yourself the questions in these prompts:

4.4e. What are the different patterns of participation in your education abroad programs based on race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical/mental ability?

4.4f. How do you know that the programs offered are of interest to historically underrepresented and historically underserved students in terms of location, academic content, and length?

4.4g. What types of outreach efforts do you use to encourage historically underrepresented and historically underserved students to participate in education abroad?

4.4h. How do advising materials and resources intentionally address the needs and concerns related to the identities of historically underrepresented and historically underserved students?

4.4k. How do curricular and co-curricular programming, including assigned readings, excursions, and guest speakers include diverse perspectives and practice inclusive pedagogy?

You might consider discussing these prompts at an upcoming staff meeting, engaging stakeholders from across your campus to share their perspectives, and seeking student input to help get a clear picture of where you’re doing well and where there is room for improvement and growth.

For more Standards content focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion, refer to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Topical Index.

Next Steps & Resources

Whether you feel like your institution or organization needs to raise the bar when it comes to the Standards or your looking for professional development in the field of international education, we’re here to help!