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International Travel Management – not just for Advancement Officers!

I am writing a series of monthly articles for Academic Impressions. Each article focuses on an aspect of international constituent relations and program development. In December 2013 I began to focus on the fine details of working abroad and wrote about the importance of knowing key international holidays to best inform staff or a delegation about when (and when not to travel). Once those parameters are understood, the planning can begin  — but it’s important to have adequate time to create a successful advancement initiative based on strategic outcomes.

I suggest working from nine months out. This advance planning with the academic year is necessary and intentional for several reasons:

  • First, budgets will be accessed for the same fiscal year for your advance work, travel and volunteer management needs. This creates a systematic way to fiscally plan and manage resources.
  • Second, the international initiative is competing for time with other priorities and travel for busy volunteers, donors and institutional leaders. Plan ahead and confirm your spot on their calendars!
  • And, third, international travel is not inexpensive, and the extra time will afford ample opportunity for advancement staff to shop for the travel deals and to negotiate with venues.

Advancement officers are not holding the responsibility alone for reaching out to constituents abroad. It is critical to keep the institution’s entire international agenda in mind and that requires a coordinated effort from alumni, development, special events, communications and marketing, and other departments such as admissions and graduate schools’ external relations offices. Advancement officers will also need to communicate with campus leadership and with volunteers abroad on a regular basis to best manage the expectations for everyone’s participation and support.

Everyone involved is a “brand manager” and will have a piece of the promotional timeline.

For two examples of how to best utilize a nine-month planning effort see:


The Relationship between Public Funding & Private Support

An excerpt from the panel presentation, Trends in Higher Education Financing, Eurasian Higher Education Leaders Forum, hosted by Nazarbayev University

Another global trend is the relationship between public funding and private support for higher education. Decreased public funding requires institutions to attract and retain new sources of private support in the form of individual giving, individual and family estate planning, and corporate and foundation philanthropy.

What are the trends in education costs in the United States? According to the National Center for Education Statistics (of the U.S. Department of Education), for the 2010–11 academic years the annual current dollar prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board were estimated to be $13,600 at public institutions, $36,300 at private not-for-profit institutions, and $23,500 at private for-profit institutions. This is not the universal story for the U.S. as each of the 50 states sets their own rates at public institutions.

In the United States and Canada private giving to college and universities has been institutionalized in the 20th century with the formation of alumni associations, the promotion of capital campaigns, and the attractive charitable tax benefits afforded to both the donor and the beneficiary. More students are attending colleges and universities on scholarships, grants and financial aid.

The story is different in the UK. Academic fees are accelerating the pace of change for what is expected across England’s higher education system. Once a public good provided at no cost to students, economic austerity measures introduced by ruling governmental parties have created new price tags for higher education institutions. The cost of education has grown exponentially since the inception of the first fees of £1,000 in 1998. Along with the most recent tuition spike of £9,000 come new requirements of universities to better serve underrepresented students. Access Agreements require universities to sponsor programs and initiatives that help students in lower socio-economic brackets get financial aid for higher education.

The culminating impact of these changes in England has raised two key questions: Will more bursary support offset the perception of an unattainable university education with a 200% increase in tuition and fees? Will institutions be able to raise more money from private sources to support a growing number of needy students? The majority of higher education institutions in England (excluding historical icons such as Oxford and Cambridge) have nascent alumni relations programs and this may affect fundraising. Have institutions invested enough in alumni relations “up front” to weather the forces produced by the newest era of tuition and fees?

A note on corporate and foundation philanthropy: corporations and foundations have succeeded in helping advance higher education goals within the country of origin, on behalf of a particular region, or by way of a wider internationalization agenda. Not all attempts, however, have been without controversy. In some cases, an equal share of negative attention has balanced an assumed expectation that all outside money is a good thing.

Finally, shifting more of the financial burden from the state to private sources created a new consumer relationship between institution and its undergraduates or future alumni. Across the world, students and alumni are more intentional than ever about how their degree impacts their employability. The university degree must bear utility. Universities must respond by creating more resources for both students and their recent alumni.