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Planning and Logistics

This section focuses on three main areas: overall logistical planning, budget and financial considerations, and risk management abroad. The Ryerson program lead is responsible for ensuring that programs have adequate financial, human and facility resources in order to provide participants with a learning environment centred on the well-being of all involved.

An important consideration to remember when working on the logistical planning of your program are the services available via Ryerson’s partner, International SOS (ISOS). While providing essential in country emergency, health and safety services, they also provide a plethora of pre-departure materials that are beneficial during the planning stages (see below for specifics). In addition, members of the Ryerson International team are available to advise and support the planning process, while experienced staff and faculty from each academic unit are essential sources of information.

An itinerary typically includes details regarding the timeframe of the activity, accommodation, transportation, field trips and experiential learning activities, classroom times and locations (if applicable), group meals, etc. In the early stages you may not know all of these details but we recommend that you include as much as possible for your initial itinerary draft (even if only related to intentions rather then confirmed plans) for your proposal (see Program Model and Design section, Roles and Responsibilities for more information regarding recommended proposal format). Following confirmation of support from your home academic unit you will be able to return to your itinerary and build upon it further.

When considering transportation and accommodations be sure to assess whether they ensure the safety and well-being of all participants. Note that our partner International SOS (please see the International Risk Mangement page within Faculty and Staff Resources) is able to provide a pre-travel medical and/or security briefing. This can be completed for individual travellers or for group based programming and supports the assessment of appropriate accommodations and/or transportation methods through advice from a regional expert.

The environment of accommodations selected should seek to stimulate learning and take into account availability of wifi, if it will be required to complete any tasks or assignments during the program or if it is necessary for the group’s communications plan (please see the International Risk Mangement page within Faculty and Staff Resources). When possible, the living arrangements made available to students should encourage further intercultural contact and opportunities for reflection. A heightened learning experience will be provided if students are able to interact with others outside of their home-university group, and living arrangements may be one way of exploring how to incorporate this aspect into your programming.

In spaces of heightened power differentials interpersonal relationships need to be approached with care, particularly in regards to living arrangements. Host family accommodations may be considered for programming that is longer term, as well as when the destination has limited alternative accommodation options. While host family stays can be valuable and rewarding for all involved it is important to consider and assess the possible effects of the emotional labour placed on host families, as well as participants ability to adapt and adhere to community and family expectations and lifestyles (rather than expecting families to adapt to participants, for example).

  • Coordinate any classroom space that you require prior to departure for any course or planned learning activities and general pre-departure preparation (see section on Participation and Preparation).
  • Take note of any academic and/or general educational considerations that should be further developed during planning stages including program content, pedagogical planning, intercultural learning activities, etc. Regardless as to whether students will be receiving credit for their participation in the program or not, all programming should include clear learning objectives and planned activities to meet these objectives. See section on Program Model and Design for more information.
  • When travelling to a region where English is not the primary language of instruction students should be strongly encouraged (and supported where possible) to acquire, at a minimum, some basic language training.
  • All GLPAs must have a Program Lead from Ryerson that will travel with and be responsible for the group while abroad. If possible, you should confirm a back-up Ryerson program lead who is able to lead the program in the event of any unforeseen circumstances that prevent you from doing so. In-country, consider identifying a student to act as a liaison between yourself and the group in case of illness or any other unforeseen circumstances. 
  • You may consider hiring additional faculty, staff, or program assistants (in country or at Ryerson). It is the responsibility of the program lead to coordinate the hiring via their home department if deemed necessary for the program. There must be clear justifications if the cost of the hire is to be included in the program fees charged to students, rather than as an in-kind expense covered by the home unit. Hiring must adhere to all relevant HR policies and you must consult with your home department HR consultant.
  • When working with external vendors and service providers you must coordinate with your home unit’s Finance consultants in order to coordinate all necessary agreements and contracts. You will be responsible for ensuring that all agreements and contractual obligations are mutually agreed upon, clearly communicated, and followed. For more information regarding special considerations for service providers and intermediary organizations see our Partnerships and Collaboration section. 
  • If working with a travel agency to support the logistical planning of your program be sure to properly assess the provider. You can connect with Financial Services to inquire as to what vendors of record are on file (i.e. pre-qualified to provide goods and services at Ryerson with fair and equitable pricing pre-negotiated). Additional considerations include the types of supports offered (for example beyond transportation and accommodation reservations are they able to provide visa and immigration support?), cancellation policies (i.e. there should be a refund structure in place in the event that the program is cancelled) and whether the agency is TICO certified, external link, opens in new window
  • For more information about education based service providers and intermediary organizations visit the Partnerships and Collaboration section.
  • Students are responsible for ensuring that they follow all immigration requirements for the country(ies) they will be travelling to. Faculty and staff are not able to provide explicit immigration advice as visa requirements are constantly changing and students may require different entry documentation and/or visas depending on their nationality. Students are required to inquire directly with the consulate and/or embassy. Sometimes consulates or embassies allow for a group representative to coordinate group appointments for immigration documentation processing and to mediate communication between applicants and their offices. If of interest, be sure to explore this option directly with the applicable consulate or embassy.
  • Emergency travel and health insurance is available to students via their RSU health plan (see website here: http://www.rsuonline.ca/travel-insurance, external link, opens in new window). The international coverage available via RSU’s health plan is Ryerson International’s minimum standard for students travelling abroad. Students may have opted out of their RSU health plan coverage, and if so, are required to secure their own health insurance for their time out of the country. Depending on the region and duration of programming it may be advisable for students to purchase additional travel and health insurance. The mandatory pre-departure session required of all students discusses insurance in detail (please see the International Risk Management page).
  • Ryerson University’s general liability policy provides coverage to faculty, staff, and students (Ryerson Community Members) against claims made by third parties for bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage. The general liability policy will cover all reasonable legal costs and any other payouts for which the University would be responsible for if found to be legally liable when a Ryerson Community member accidentally harms a person or property while travelling on or engaged in University business, off-campus or overseas. The general liability policy will respond even in cases where such claims or allegations are groundless, false or fraudulent. Note that Institutional liability does not provide coverage when a Ryerson community member is acting in their individual capacity outside the scope of their work or studies. For more information please contact:

Please visit the International Risk Management section in the Faculty and Staff Resources for more information about the planning and pre-departure supports available from International SOS.

While this section offers guidance and support to inform the financial planning of Global Learning Programs Abroad (GLPA), it is important to note that the final development and approval of the budgeting process for all programs is done at the departmental and/or faculty level. Ryerson International is available to offer advice and guidance, but is not responsible for the budget’s development, execution or approval. In addition, while Ryerson International manages particular funding programs (see the Funding sections on our website) and may be able to offer recommendations, our office is not responsible for securing funding for programming. 

It is in the program lead’s best interest to consult early on with their operating department to determine the best methods for the financial management of the program based on internal practices of your unit and the guidelines offered below. The operating department is responsible for all financial coordination, including receiving payments from students, providing travel advances, reimbursing faculty and staff post-travel, cancellations and refunds, payments to service providers, etc, all in keeping with HR and Financial policies.

  • When developing inclusive programming it is important to assess budgetary constrictions as high program costs will impact the number of students who apply and the profile of those who do. Questions to consider:
    • Are students able to justify the cost of the GLPA based on their interest in the topic and/or location? I.E. relevance professionally, academically, etc.
    • Do the proposed excursions further the learning objectives of the GLPA? If not, it may not be a worthwhile added cost.
    • Can the learning objectives of the GLPA be accomplished in one destination versus multiple? Not all programs require multiple sites and having one destination of significance can help lower costs and alleviate additional safety or risk considerations. 
    • Are you able to work with Ryerson international partners to provide logistical support, classroom space, housing, access to local experts, etc? 
    • Are you able to keep costs transferred to students as low as possible? For example, ensure that faculty and staff salary and benefits continue to be paid from home department and when possible, request support to cover travel expenses of program lead(s) from home Faculty/unit.
  • Best practice indicates that for GLPA like programming, fees should be considered on a cost recovery, not for profit basis. Program costs do not typically include tuition (when a GLPA is connected to a particular course for example) nor international airfare.
  • A contingency fund must be included in the budget. This safeguards the program budget to external factors, eg. currency conversion fluctuations, fluctuations in transportation costs between budgeting and payment, potential emergency costs, and any potential shortfalls in budget planning. This can be factored into the budget as either a percentage of the overall cost per student at a rate of 4% (for example) or it can be factored in as a flat rate per student, i.e. $100 (this can fluctuate depending on the context, as certain regions may elicit an increased need for a heightened contingency fund). 
  • Once the number of participants has been finalized you are able to confirm the final budget and program fee. Quotes and other fees should be re-confirmed at this stage. The final budget should be finalized at least 10 weeks prior to the start of the program. Once finalized, the home department can begin charging students.

Please contact Ryerson International (rihelp@ryerson.ca) for a GLPA Budget Template and Sample Budget to support your budget preparation.

  • Fixed costs - costs that do not change based on the number of participants (fixed costs determine the minimum funding necessary to run the program and will thus determine the number of participants needed)
    • Faculty expenses (i.e. travel, accommodation, per diem, travel insurance, cell phone, visa, etc.), if these expenses are not being covered by the home department and/or faculty. 
    • Any additional faculty or staff hires or collaborators (i.e. guest lecturers, translators, program assistants, etc)
    • Facility costs (e.g. classroom rental)
    • Group transportation and activities
    • Miscellaneous - i.e. bank fees, photocopying, printing, etc.
  • Variable costs per student - dependent on the number of participants
    • Contingency fund 
    • Groundtransportation
    • Group meals (i.e. recommend one group meal each week)
    • Travel and Medical Insurance (depending on the location, additional coverage may be included in program cost, please see the Immigration, Insurance and Liability accordion above)
    • Accommodations
    • Entrance fees and other miscellaneous fees depending on activities
    • Equipment and materials
  • Additional costs students should be advised to budget for:
    • Tuition and other student fees when applicable
    • Travel and Medical Insurance (if additional coverage is required, but not included in program costs)
    • Meals (not included)
    • International airfare
    • Vaccinations when applicable
    • Visas and other immigration costs
    • Communication costs (i.e. cell phone)
    • Entertainment and personal travel
  • When determining the cost of the GLPA for students (in the early promotion stage) you have two main options:
    1. Set a maximum program fee that is subject to change (i.e. as a maximum fee it can decrease but not increase)
    2. Set a program fee range to communicate a maximum possible cost and minimum possible cost associated with the program. The final fee will be confirmed once the number of participants is set (must fall within the original fee range presented)
  • An essential consideration connected to the determination of the program fees are the maximum and minimum amount of possible student participants allowed in the program. The minimum amount refers to the number of students required to run the program (i.e. meet all basic costs) and the maximum amount refers to your cut off point (which could be contingent on different planning components such as accommodation capacity, etc).
  • As stated in the Participation and Preparation section regarding the student application process, to confirm participation it is recommended that students are required to pay a deposit. After the application stage is complete and students are formally offered a place in the program, a cut off date should be indicated and clearly communicated as to when the deposit becomes non-refundable. The deposit should be utilized towards the payment of the final program fee. Depending on the expected program fee, the deposit can range anywhere from $100 to $500 CAD.
  • A detailed withdrawal and refund policy should be developed based on the nature of the program in question. This must be clearly communicated to students during the application process (especially if a deposit is required). See further information regarding withdrawal considerations in the Participation and Preparation section. 
  • The primary mode for receiving student payment at Ryerson is ePly. It is the only online system at Ryerson that is PCI compliant and authorized by Financial Services to receive student payment (outside of tuition payments, for example). For more information please visit the website on Online Event Registration and Payment Setup. The team at Financial Services supports you with the set-up of the registration page for students, customizing it to suit your individual needs, and supports the coordination of the platform throughout the payment process. It is important to note that there are administrative fees associated with the platform that you will need to account for in your program’s budget. The fees are deducted from each payment received. For students who are unable to access a credit card, alternative payment methods can be arranged via the platform. 
  • For information on student funding please see the Participation and Preparation section.
  • The program lead (or supporting staff from host department) is responsible for gathering quotes from organizations that are providing services for the GLPA. We encourage you to do this as soon as possible in order to ensure accuracy in your overall budget planning and outreach with students. Research the most appropriate mechanism for payment in country (i.e. cash vs. advanced payment vs. credit card vs. cheque, etc).
  • Local sourcing should be utilized whenever possible to provide increased opportunities for intercultural engagement of participants as well as to maximize benefits for local residents and stakeholders. 
  • When working with in country collaborators on a fee for service basis (i.e. translators, in country coordinators, educators, guides, etc) it is important to ensure fair compensation for all direct and indirect costs and to do so in a mutually agreed upon fashion in advance of the program start date. Where possible, research the average pay rates for particular professions in country to ensure knowledge of local context. 
  •  Special Note: In contexts of heightened power differentials effort should be made to avoid economic structures of enclave tourism and instead work to support local ownership and economic benefit (See also Fair Trade Learning principle, 2.5, external link, opens in new window). In addition, when incorporating local participants and/or collaborators consider the effect of time spent away from regular paid employment and how to alleviate this added burden. 
  • You are encouraged to coordinate payment with your home department of larger group bookings and purchases in advance of travel if possible. In country methods of payment to consider and confirm with your department (depending on your position and what you have access to) include cash advance, purchasing card, reimbursement upon return, etc.
  • Be sure to follow all Ryerson related policies in terms of travel expenses and reimbursement upon return. Note that expenses claimed upon return should be those that were already included in the budget (with exceptions for extenuating circumstances and emergencies). Remember to keep track of all payments made in the field and try not to go over budget (this may require alterations in program planning on site in order to stay within budget). 
  • Students will be reimbursed for any remaining funds at the end of the GLPA that were not used. If the actual GLPA operating costs exceed the original budget, it is the responsibility of your home department to cover these costs.

Risk Assessment and Management

Below you will find the Risk Management Steps that the Program lead is required to complete for all group based travel abroad. It is essential that you review ALL content carefully on this page to ensure that you have a full understanding of your responsibilities as a GLPA program lead.

As a starting point for all group travel, faculty and staff should familiarize themselves with Ryerson’s International SOS Members Portal, external link, opens in new window. The portal provides access to security, medical and travel information you need to plan your program. Risk assessments are available for 220 countries and more than 330 cities. 

While providing useful information for general planning purposes as indicated above in the general logistical considerations section, the essential consideration here is that you identify the level and nature of risk involved based on the risk assessments provided by International SOS. Another source of information are the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories, external link, opens in new window

Note: Risk, safety and all general considerations do not necessarily abide by nation-state borders and as such it is important to be as specific as possible in terms of the information relating to the specific region and destination where you will be spending time or travelling through.

If the destination you will be traveling to with students is designated as high or extreme risk by International SOS than you will be required to complete a Travel Risk Management Plan (TRMP) at least 6 weeks in advance of travel (note that this is completed via a Google Form). This plan outlines how risks will be mitigated based on the specifics of the planned travel. The TRMP must be approved by the Dean for high risk destinations or by the Provost for extreme risk destinations before the activity can move forward. For group travel the faculty or staff lead must complete the TRMP and is responsible for socializing the details of the TRMP with all student participants.

All faculty or staff program leads must complete the google formInternational Group Trip Registration Form, external link, opens in new window. This form is applicable to the registration of all Ryerson group travel internationally.

The Ryerson program lead must contact Ryerson International to coordinate the pre-departure process for students. All required risk management steps for students can be found on Ryerson International’s website here: https://www.ryerson.ca/ri/global-learning/risk-management-steps/

Depending on the risk classification of the destination as well as the size of the group, students will either be asked to participate in a general pre-departure orientation or in a specialized group session for the program. The program lead(s) for the group should also attend the pre-departure session in order to familiarize themselves with the content as well as the services available via iSOS both prior to and during travel. Furthermore, it is essential that the Ryerson program lead(s) register with International SOS for the duration of the program abroad.

Note: it is essential that the faculty/staff lead and all participants properly register for ISOS services. See instructions on Ryerson International's Safety Abroad page.

On site, the faculty or staff lead of the group is the overall academic and administrative representative of the program and is responsible for navigating all issues that may arise during the activity. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Coordinating on site orientations for students that include safety and health concerns (preferably with local collaboration and input)
  • Liasioning with any individuals or entities collaborating with and/or providing services for the group to address any health and safety concerns
  • Problem-solving and addressing any issues that arise in country in collaboration with International SOS, the first point of contact for all serious incidents including emergency, safety and health concerns
  • Maintaining ongoing communication with the group and ensuring awareness of overall health and general well-being of all participants

Remember that ISOS is your 24/7 emergency response and logistical support at all times during travel abroad. Never hesitate to connect with ISOS for any and all situations that may arise. Note that in the event that ISOS needs to communicate with Ryerson International regarding an incident a designated staff member is on call 24/7 to serve as a liaison between Ryerson and ISOS. In addition, you may receive communications via the ISOS platform from Ryerson International staff in the event of a regional emergency or incident (for example a natural disaster) in order to confirm the groups safety and to open up direct lines of communication.

For a full list of services provided by International SOS while abroad please visit the International Risk Management section in the Faculty and Staff Resources.

Additional Considerations

All faculty and staff leads must have an active communication plan in country for the duration of the trip. This plan should include the program leads ability to communicate with iSOS, in-country staff and supports, as well as counterparts at Ryerson. It should also include an overall plan for how the program lead and students will communicate with one another on a daily basis and in the event of an emergency. iSOS is available to support the development of a communication strategy (for example, taking into consideration the possibility of no cell phone coverage, etc) and if applicable the program lead should also coordinate with any host organizations to determine their protocol in the event of an emergency or serious incident. If the program travel will occur in an area with limited to no cell phone coverage the communication plan must address this.

If emergency funds are needed that go beyond what is available in the contingency fund (see section above on financial planning), ISOS has permission to pay for services in the case of loss of life, limb or eye. If the situation does not fall within these categories than International SOS will contact Ryerson International on the groups behalf for approval.

Depending on the region(s) you will be travelling to it may be advisable to bring a first aid kit with you. This is a requirement if you will be in places with limited medical services that are not easily accessible by emergency personnel. If you are unsure, please consult with International SOS.

While the primary considerations for this section relate to Risk Management Steps for group travel as outlined above (focused exclusively of participant safety and well-being), it is also important to consider the possible negative ramifications of programming overall as outlined in guideline #2 of the Planning and Logistics section. Resources are under development to expand on this section, but for now some additional considerations include:

  • Potential negative ramifications to partners, collaborators and non-Ryerson participants (): Does the presence of a student group place undue pressure on local relations and/or existing tensions? Could the presence of an external student group lead to expectations from non-ryerson stakeholders that are not aligned with what is possible within the structure of the program (i.e. expectations of resource sharing)? Will hosts have to spend extra time, work and emotional labour supporting the group that is not compensated nor recognized, potentially affecting their daily well-being? Will any activities performed by Ryerson students replace paid employment for locals?
  • Potential negative ramifications to the environment: Are you travelling to an ecologically sensitive area? Could the presence of a group bring undue strain to the local ecosystem? If travelling to remote regions what is your plan for waste disposal and use of ecological friendly products?

Coming Soon: section on Monitoring and Evaluation and expanding resources regarding potential negative ramifications of programming.