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Office of International Programs

OIP Management Principles

As part of its academic mission, Brown University offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study abroad through a wide variety of academic programs, some offered directly by the university and others sponsored by institutions that Brown approves for academic credit. Well over 500 Brown students study outside of the United States each year and are transformed by their experiences in the most positive and profound ways.

Some students choose courses abroad that complement and lend depth to their areas of concentration at Brown, while others use their study abroad experiences to explore topics outside of their concentration.

Brown, exclusively or in collaboration with other highly selective US universities, has developed a number of programs reflecting Brown’s academic standards and curricular focus on direct integration into the host country and, where language allows, the academic setting.  Each program has a fully staffed physical presence (a center of study) in the host country, and/or is led by a seasoned resident director and qualified staff who together oversee all academic and administrative aspects of the program.  Where applicable, a consortium board of advisors meets regularly to oversee the academic delivery of the program.  On some programs, non-Brown students may be admitted provided there is space available.

Brown-sponsored programs and Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad programs administered by Brown currently operate in nine countries.  They include:

Brazil: Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro

China: Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Cuba: Casa de Las Américas; University of Havana

Ireland:  Trinity College Dublin, Dublin

Italy: University of Bologna; Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna

France (Paris): La Sorbonne I, IV,VIII; Ecole Centrale

France (Lyon): Sciences Politique; Universitè Lumière Lyon 2

Germany: Humboldt University, Berlin

Spain (Barcelona): Consortium for Advanced Studies in Barcelona (UB, UPF, UAB, UPC)

Spain (Santander): University of Cantabria – Engineering and Physics

Spain (Granada): University of Granada

United Kingdom: Cornell/Penn/Brown United Kingdom Program (15 UK Universities)

In addition, Brown has compiled a list of over 70 approved programs sponsored by other universities and non-profit providers that have established reputations for high academic integrity, excellent student-support services and clearly established safety protocols. An established petition process also exists that allows students to attend programs that do not appear on either the Brown-sponsored or approved programs list, provided they are able to articulate clear rationales why such programs are a better academic fit for them.

Financial aid, including Brown institutional aid, travels with students when they study abroad on a Brown-sponsored, approved or petition program.

The assessment of Brown-sponsored programs and CASA programs administered by Brown is ongoing, involving interaction between colleagues and partner university officials on the ground, Brown faculty and OIP staff.  In addition to OIP on-campus staff, each program is assigned a faculty advisor/s who engages frequently with the OIP and with staff on the ground for monitoring and program improvement purposes.  Faculty directors for 2018-19 include:

  • Brazil:  Luiz Valente
  • Cuba:  Esther Whitfield, Jennifer Lambe, Daniel Rodriguez
  • Italy:  Massimo Riva
  • France: Youenn Kervennic
  • Germany: Jane Sokolosky
  • Japan:  Yuko Jackson, James McClain, Samuel Perry
  • Spain:  Eva Gomez, Sarah Thomas
  • United Kingdom:  Ruth Colwill

Faculty directors visit the programs frequently and, in the case of Italy, are in rotating residence from year to year.  In the case of Brown’s participation in consortium programs, governance falls under the purview of a Board of Directors, represented by consortium member institutions, that meets annually.

Approved Alternative Programs

Brown students may also receive academic credit for participation in “approved programs” run by other institutions. Students benefit from ongoing OIP staff to monitor and assess these programs through site reviews, participation on advisory boards, and engagement with colleagues at other institutions. Brown students frequently select these programs for their study abroad experience.

Brown’s policy on approved programs

The OIP advises students about study abroad programs based on academic fit. With the continued growth in demand for study abroad programs to serve America’s college and university students, and the resulting growth in the education abroad field, the standards and quality assessment systems by which we operate are more important than ever before. This is especially true when considering the collaborative relationship between study abroad program providers and institutions of higher learning.

Brown does not receive discounts or commissions from, nor does it enter into exclusivity contracts with approved program providers. The Office of International Programs (OIP), working in conjunction with academic departments, approves programs abroad, not providers. Brown does not participate in, support, or promote the practice of offering special pricing or incentives to increase enrollments with program providers.

Of the literally thousands of programs and hundreds of program providers currently in existence worldwide, only programs that fill a particular academic niche and have demonstrated integrity are considered for approval. Through periodic site reviews, participation on advisory boards, and active dialogue with colleagues in the field, the OIP monitors and assesses such programs, a much needed element of our efforts to provide due diligence in the interest of serving our students. Issues considered when assessing programs include but are not limited to: Brown academic expectations, host institution academic content and rigor, faculty strength, program resources, integration of the student into the community, extra-curricular activities, orientation, housing, safety, quality of the overseas office, and the role of the resident director.

OIP staff members receive no compensation for their participation on advisory boards other than reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses. When conducting international travel for the purpose of conducting site reviews, costs are shared between the program sponsor and Brown. OIP involvement in program reviews enables staff members to provide students with first-hand knowledge about the vast array of program choices available to them, and to advise students with special academic or student support needs how particular programs might better serve them.

In 2002, an independent organization, The Forum on Education Abroad, was formed by education abroad professionals to act as an arbiter of standards of best practices in response to concerns about the difficulties of evaluating and monitoring study-abroad programs. The current Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad (https://forumea.org/resources/standards-of-good-practice/) are the result of contributions by hundreds of professionals around the globe. Brown has been a member of the Forum since its founding and has been a key player in the development of these standards.

Brown is also an active member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, which examines institutional management issues in study abroad. NAFSA is committed to establishing guidelines on the financing of study abroad, portability of financial aid, enrollment and credit-transfer policies, and financial relations with third-party providers. These issues have been identified as priorities for the field and The Office of International Programs looks forward to playing an active role in this important dialogue.

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