The Faculty Leader need not make all arrangements personally. The EAO strongly encourages Faculty Leaders to identify one primary on-site coordinator (per country or city as appropriate) to handle all pre-arranged logistics. Local coordinators are usually far more qualified (than the Faculty Leader and the EAO) to identify and secure the services of reputable vendors, and to react to any changes in the itinerary or the services. A good on-site coordinator will know the language and culture, live and work in the host country's time zone, and be prepared to advocate for the group. In addition, the use of an on-site coordinator dramatically decreases the administrative burden of accounting for each individual item or service purchased on behalf of the program. An "ideal" coordinator adds value to the program in the following areas:
- Travel Logistics: Arranges all in-country travel logistics, including lodging, transportation, entrance fees, and possibly meals, managing all "moving parts" of the itinerary.
- Financial Management: Ensures that all negotiations, hiring, and purchases are legal and culturally-appropriate in the host country, while also complying with UNL Business & Finance policies.
- Academics: Understands the program’s learning objectives and suggests/arranges guest lecturers, industry visits, and other activities that directly support those objectives.
- Safety/Security: Offers an additional layer of support to students and leaders through site-specific orientations/materials, providing input on the emergency preparedness plan, and actively assisting and advising on emergency response (if needed).
The EAO consults extensively with Faculty Leaders during the program development process by assisting the Faculty Leader in identifying on-site coordinator(s) and establishing a contract with the on-site coordinator(s). The EAO staff does not carry out tasks normally performed by a travel agent (booking museum or performance tickets, reserving train tickets/passes, etc.) or make direct payments to a large number of vendors. The contract with the on-site coordinator must be in compliance with UNL Procurement Services policies: UNL Procurement Services must sign all contracts over $5,000 and publish the contract on a searchable website per the LB429 Taxpayer Transparency Act.
An on-site coordinator may be:
- a partner university or institution, particularly those with a language institute or research center, a history of hosting groups, and/or conference services.
- a professional education abroad organization. Most major education abroad organizations now offer “customized program” services.
- a travel agency or tour operator (preferably with staff based in the host country).
- an NGO (non-governmental organization) or non-profit organization.
- or other highly trusted individuals or organizations as appropriate.
- IMPORTANT: Coordinators must be willing to sign an agreement per UNL Procurement policies and able to accept funds wired from UNL.
Examples of on-site coordinators used by UNL Faculty Leaders:
- Brazil: Associação Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos - ACBEU (language institute)
- Costa Rica: The Monteverde Institute (NGO)
- Ireland: Maynooth Campus Conference & Accommodation at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (partner university with conference services)
- South Korea: Chuncheon National University of Education (partner university)
- South Africa: International Studies Abroad (ISA) Custom Programs (education abroad organization)
During the proposal process, the Faculty Leader decides whether to require students to depart and return on one group flight, to "suggest" a group flight, or to allow students to arrange individual flights. There are pros and cons to each type of arrangement.
Group Flight (UNL Purchase)
Conditions: In order for the EAO to reserve and purchase a group flight, the following conditions should be met:
- At least one Faculty Leader will travel with the student group.
- All passengers will fly to the host country and return on the same itinerary. (NO student flight deviations will be allowed).
- The Faculty Leader(s) agree to adhere to the application and deposit deadlines, allowing UNL to meet the airline's ticket utilization deadline (typically 90 days prior to departure) and final ticketing deadline (30-45 days prior to departure).
- Each passenger will acknowledge that the ticket purchased in his/her name becomes his/her property (in many cases, airline credit in the passenger's name is the only form of "refund" available after a passenger is ticketed).
Process: The Faculty Leader is responsible for choosing the dates of travel and the departure and arrival locations. The EAO works with either Travel & Transport or a US-based travel agent arranging other logistics for the program (a "package" deal). Students pay a deposit of $1,000-$2,000, an amount reflecting the approximate cost of airfare.
"Suggested" Group Flight (Student Purchase)
Process: The Faculty Leader is responsible for choosing the dates of travel and the departure and arrival locations. The EAO works with the Faculty Leader to select a travel agency and signs a “suggested flight” agreement. The EAO shares the suggested group flight information with students. Students then call a designated phone number, access a designated website, or send an email per the EAO's instructions to book their own ticket. Students may work with the travel agency to begin their journey in a different departure city (i.e. if they are from Texas and wish to fly from near their parents’ home in Austin), but to join the group for at least the last leg of the journey (without paying change fees). The EAO monitors reservations/payments via the designated travel agent. In recent years, the EAO has worked with the following agencies to facilitate "suggested flights:"
Individual Flights (Student Purchase)
Process: The Faculty Leader determines the time and date by which all students are required to arrive in a specified city/airport, as well as the earliest time and date they are allowed to depart after the program concludes. (This approach works best for more "accessible" and "safe" host countries, where students are likely to extend their time abroad). The EAO will still encourage students to use a travel agency and to book a flight with at least one fellow student if possible. They will also urge students to book airfare and submit their flight details by a particular date (at least 60 days prior to departure). Students then search for and book their own airfares with itineraries of their choice, as long as the itineraries meet the minimum requirements.
Benefits of Student Purchase:
- Students may use the payment method of their choice, including credit card and frequent flier miles.
- If booked well in advance, students may find the best fares by booking independently, as opposed to with a group.
- Each student may decide whether to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
- Students have a wide variety of choice regarding their itineraries. In particular, the desired departure city and return date are likely to vary by individual passenger. Students may travel independently beyond the official program dates, or opt to pursue internships or other education abroad programs in the host country.