University Policies

Approved: 3/22/01
Revised: 10/12/11
Approved By: President

Registration Policy for Study Abroad


There are many types of study abroad and many approaches to awarding credit and charging tuition/fees/other expenses for the experience. The Office of Study Abroad administers any and all activity undertaken for academic credit in countries outside of the United States.


  1. Study Abroad:
    1. "Study Abroad" is the umbrella term for a wide variety of programs of various types and lengths.
  2. Exchange:
    1. "Exchange" is a more specific term implying a written agreement with a foreign institution that involves a true exchange of students, faculty, or sometimes administrators.
  3. Home/Host Institution:
    1. "Home" institution is the student's home school (WIU); "Host" is the institution hosting our student(s).

Study Abroad Administrative Structures that WIU Will Encounter

  1. Study Abroad Programs Sponsored by WIU:
    1. WIU-Operated Study Abroad Program
      1. Student enrolls through the home campus.
      2. Student earns WIU credit, is assessed regular tuition and authorized reduced fees for a program in which WIU provides instruction.
      3. If WIU program uses outside instruction, student will be assessed a separate charge for that instruction. WIU tuition may be waived for the credit hours earned when program uses outside instruction or courses at a host institution.
      4. Duration of program may be one term, in which case the program is called a Study Abroad Program, or the program may take place before, during or after a term, in which case the program is called a Study Abroad Course. An example of a Study Abroad Course would be a program that takes place during Spring Break and carries Spring semester credit.
      5. The WIU student is assessed health insurance.
      6. There may be a separate charge for travel and related expenses. Any amounts charged for travel are deposited into "unique charge" accounts.
    2. WIU-Sponsored Reciprocal Exchange Program
      1. Student registers at WIU for off-campus study and pays tuition and fees at his/her guaranteed rate to a special account. Depending on the agreement, student may also pay room and board to WIU.
      2. Incoming exchange students pay no tuition to WIU; the tuition paid by the outgoing student covers the cost for the incoming student. Depending on the agreement, this may also apply to room and board.
      3. Student earns WIU credit, but studies at host institution.
      4. Faculty provided by host institution.
      5. Duration of program may be one term or one academic year.
      6. Example: Kansai-Gaidai Exchange, or ITESM.
  2. Study Abroad Programs Sponsored by Consortia:
    1. A group of U.S. and/or international colleges/universities sponsor study abroad programs collectively.
    2. Administration of consortia is sometimes centralized, sometimes administered by participating institutions.
    3. Students enroll in WIU and earn WIU credit.
    4. Enrollment and payment arrangements may resemble those of an exchange, affiliate or direct enroll program, depending on the consortium.
    5. Duration one or more terms.
    6. Example: ISEP
  3. Educationally Affiliated Study Abroad Organizations:
    1. Organization may or may not grant credit.
    2. Affiliated host institution may issue credit or an academic transcript.
    3. Through these affiliations, WIU students may study at a study center or school operated by an affiliate organization, at a foreign institution, or at an American college or university abroad.
    4. Students earn WIU credit.
    5. Faculty may be provided by host country affiliate or U.S. affiliate.
    6. May establish partnerships with U.S. institutions; subcontract portion of services/programming.
    7. Generally requires a permanent affiliation agreement, though temporary agreements may be signed for individual students.
    8. Example: ISA (WIU has a signed agreement), Colegio de España (individual programs).
  4. Direct Enrollment in a Foreign University or American University Abroad (not an Exchange):
    1. A permanent or temporary affiliation agreement is signed.
    2. Student enrolls at WIU in order to gain preapproval for foreign study plan.
    3. Student is awarded WIU credit upon receipt of the transcript from the other university.
    4. Eligibility for financial aid is contingent on WIU registration and affiliation agreement.
    5. Examples: James Cook University in Australia, Semester at Sea (students receive transcripts from University of Virginia)
  5. Independent Study/Internship/Research
    1. Student designs own independent study or research project, or obtains an internship in a foreign country through own or department's contacts.
    2. Student completes a proposal containing logistical and budget information and submits it to the Office of Study Abroad.
    3. Proposal must be sponsored by a faculty member and approved by the Department Chair in which the student will receive credit (the Department Chair may also serve as the faculty sponsor).
    4. Student receives WIU credit as determined by the WIU Department Chair according to the project or internship.
    5. Student is assessed applicable WIU student health insurance as well as WIU tuition and fees for the courses in which he/she is enrolled.
    6. Student must participate in pre-departure orientation.
    7. Student is responsible for paying all costs associated with travel, enrollment at institutions, schools or affiliate organizations abroad, instruction, materials, and all other expenses. Certain costs may be eligible to be included in a financial aid budget submitted to the Office of Financial Aid by the Office of Study Abroad.
    8. Independent study, internship, or research credit will not be displayed on the WIU transcript as study abroad credit. Student should keep copies of any work produced for the project or internship as documentation of the experience for future employers or graduate schools.

WIU Tuition Policy for Study Abroad:

The structures described above will vary in terms of where tuition is charged. Sometimes tuition will be charged by WIU; other times by another institution or organization. The university will assess the exchange (two way) and the study abroad (one way) students study abroad tuition and fees, which can be paid by ISAC MAP funds and other financial aid. Charges and credits will be automated and posted to a clearing account and no revenue and expense will be incurred. The exchange and study abroad students will be permitted to retain enrolled status and credit hours produced from these classes will not be included in the Unit Cost Study prepared by Institutional Research and Planning.

Application and Registration Procedures for Study Abroad:

  1. Site Selection
    Student selects program with advice and consent of Study Abroad Adviser. The Study Abroad Adviser will be concerned with the quality of the program, its cost, and its appropriateness for the student.
  2. Application
    1. Generic WIU Application
      Students will be screened by the Office of Study Abroad for eligibility to study abroad and suitability for certain programs. This application may include several different components.
    2. Specific Program Application
      The program may involve a second set of application materials that will be processed by the host institution or organization. Some programs may require a third application, such as when a student studies at a host institution through an affiliate organization.
    3. Acceptance Materials
      Forms not required in the application, such as the Medical Report Form, legal forms and emergency contact information, are collected from the student after acceptance by the Office of Study Abroad. The student may be returning these at the same time he/she is working on the specific program application.
  3. Obtaining Academic Approval
    1. Certain courses on certain programs may be pre-approved for all students, according to the discretion of the Department Chair in the department granting credit. The Office of Study Abroad sends the foreign course description or syllabus to each Department Chair, who may approve or refuse to approve the course for all current and future students participating in the same program. The Office of Study Abroad maintains a database of all pre-approved courses and uses this to advise students. Pre-approved courses must be re-validated by the Department Chair every three years or whenever a new Department Chair is appointed in order to remain on the pre-approved courses database.
    2. The student must also meet with major and minor program Academic Adviser(s) in order to understand how the courses to be taken abroad fit in with academic plans.
    3. In cases in which a student wishes to take courses that are not pre-approved, he/she works with the Study Abroad Adviser to secure credit for the courses via the Academic Approval Request form. The student goes to Department Chairs or their designees to request approval for the desired study abroad courses. (Take along the foreign course description(s) and the Academic Approval Request form.) The Department Chairs will review the desired foreign courses, and determine if and how the department will assign equivalent credit (i.e. use special sections of existing department courses, use department 279, 379, or 679, or use a general OVST number).
  4. OVST Registration
    All students participating in an approved study abroad program will be enrolled in the appropriate OVST course number (279, 379, or 679) for zero hours credit, graded S/U. The purpose of this registration is two-fold: improved transcription ability and automatic billing for the Study Abroad Tuition/Fees.
  5. WIU Courses (Exact Equivalencies)
    When host school's course schedule is available and courses are clearly parallel to WIU's, assign regular WIU courses (special section with chair as instructor of record).
  6. Dept. 279/379/679 Courses (Non-Equivalencies)
    If parallel WIU courses do not exist in the WIU catalog, use Dept. 279, 379, 679 numbers (with flexible title and flexible credit) to enter the titles and credits of foreign course(s). An example of a flexible title might be: Anth 379 "Polynesian Family Structures"; an example of flexible credits might be to eliminate credit discrepancies, such as a mismatch of credits (ex. Kansai Gaidai's Jpn 101 is listed for 5 s.h., but WIU's Jpn 121 at 4 s.h. has one s.h. too little, so add Jpn 279 for an additional 1 s.h., etc.).
  7. OVST Courses (Equivalencies Yet To Be Determined)
    If the student is uncertain of what he/she will take, OVST registration can be used. This option may be used in a variety of cases. For instance, WIU may not always have an up-to-date foreign course description or syllabus. In another instance, if student plans to study Spanish in Mexico but does not know his/her level of proficiency, pre-registration at WIU can only be generally outlined. In such cases, the option is to register the student for up to sixteen (16) hours of OVST 279, 379, or 679. After the student registers at the host institution, his/her registration in foreign courses must be conveyed to WIU. Then the generic OVST numbers will be changed into specific titles where WIU course parallels exist, or departmental numbers 279, 379, 679 for non-parallels (same process as above).
  8. Registration Procedure
    1. After the course work is approved by departments and/or verified in the database, the Study Abroad Adviser will send the Academic Approval Request form to the Registrar's Office, where the approved WIU courses are added to the Catalog Master File and Master Schedule File.
    2. The Registrar will register the student in approved course work according to the appropriate charge code.
  9. Types of Appropriate Fees
    Students who participate in study abroad programs will be assessed according to the type of program they enroll in.
  10. Study Abroad Tuition/Fees
    1. The student enrolls through WIU in order to gain approval for the institution and for its study plan.
    2. The student is awarded WIU credit.
    3. The student's eligibility for financial aid is contingent on the WIU registration.
    4. The WIU student is assessed health insurance.
    5. Assessment for institutions assessing tuition/fees:
      1. All students are assessed WIU study abroad tuition/fees.
      2. A credit is issued to the student for that portion of the study abroad tuition/fees that is not covered by MAP and other allowable financial aid.
      3. The MAP-eligible portion of study abroad tuition/fees will be available to the student.
  11. Study Abroad Exchange Program Tuition/Fees
    1. Tuition and fees are assessed to all outbound WIU exchange students in programs involving reciprocal exchanges.
    2. There are limits on the number of credit hours that each incoming exchange student may take without incurring tuition charges. The limits may vary according to the agreement with the partner institution. Foreign exchange students enrolling in hours in excess of these limits will be assessed per hour that they exceed the limits.
    3. The WIU student is assessed health insurance.
  12. Study Abroad Tuition/Fees Procedure
    The Study Abroad Tuition/Fees paid by an outgoing exchange student will be held for an incoming exchange student. The actual amount of the Tuition/Fees may vary according to particular exchange agreements (sometimes including room and board, etc.).
  13. Study Abroad Tuition/Fees Clearing Accounts
    Tuition and fees paid by outgoing exchange students are paid into one of several clearing accounts, and tuition and fees incurred by incoming exchange students are paid out of these clearing accounts.
  14. Financial Aid
    1. An affiliation agreement with a host institution or organization is required for financial aid and must be on file. If no such agreement exists, a temporary affiliation agreement for the duration of the WIU student's study abroad must be obtained and be on file at WIU.
    2. ISAC MAP and other allowable financial aid for eligible study abroad students may be available within limits set by program cost in comparison with student need.
    3. Study abroad students will apply for financial aid at the Financial Aid office.
    4. The study abroad student's budget will be prepared by the WIU Study Abroad Adviser, who submits it to the Financial Aid office.
    5. The Study Abroad Adviser will notify the Financial Aid office if students drop out of the planned study abroad program for which they have requested aid.
  15. Fee Payment
    1. The student's account will be billed for the Study Abroad Tuition/Fees according to established deadlines.
    2. Non-payment will cancel the student's authorization to participate in the study abroad program. The host institution or organization will be informed not to accept our student
    3. In some cases, financial aid will be involved. Since grants/loans do not arrive until near the beginning of terms, a guarantee of eventual payment may be required.
    4. If a student defaults required payments, transcripts, proof of registration will be encumbered, and all normal WIU penalties will be enforced.
    5. Students dropping out or misusing financial aid will be required to make repayment, and their future financial aid may be jeopardized. The student's name may be turned over to the U.S. Inspector General for collection.
  16. Student Leaves for Study Abroad
    1. In order to verify WIU enrollment, the host school (International Office) or the student will send the Study Abroad Adviser a certified list of actual study abroad course enrollment as soon as possible after the student registers abroad.
    2. If there are inconsistencies between WIU pre-registration and actual foreign registration, the Study Abroad Adviser will confer with the appropriate Department Chair(s) and the Registrar on the discrepancies, obtain their approvals, and make appropriate changes.
    3. Students registered for general OVST hours will have appropriate course titles recorded.
    4. It will be the student's responsibility to remain enrolled in the same full time/part-time status originally designed. Any change (such as from full- to part-time) will jeopardize/possibly revoke the student's financial aid eligibility.
  17. When the Study Abroad is Finished
    The host institution or organization (or International Office) will send the student's grades to the WIU Study Abroad Adviser, who will forward it to the Registrar for transcription. Student grades will be listed as Incompletes until the grades are received (they may not always arrive in time to meet WIU calendar deadlines). The Study Abroad Adviser initiates grade changes and forwards to appropriate departments. The pre-registered courses will receive grades consistent with WIU grading policy.
  18. Transcription of the Student's Study Abroad Experience
    WIU students participating in WIU approved overseas study programs, except those engaging in independent study, internships, or research abroad, will have their academic experience transcripted as follows:
    1. All students will be enrolled in the appropriate OVST 279/379/679 for zero hours credit, graded S/U. This course titled "Overseas Study" will officially identify overseas study on the academic record.
    2. Academic credit earned will be recorded utilizing existing WIU courses where applicable, or with departmental approval credit will be recorded using the departmental 279/379/679 with descriptive title.
    3. On the transcript, immediately following term credit, a narrative statement including dates, institution, and location (city, country) will be recorded.