Cal State Fullerton has seen a nearly 100 percent participation increase in a study abroad program that is lacking safety records.
A number of “control weaknesses” were reported in the program in an internal audit of CSUF’s “International Activities” released this year by the CSU System’s Office of Audit and Advisory Services. As of a July 18 board meeting, CSUF has only satisfied one of six safety recommendations from the audit.
In her recent Convocation Address for the fall 2017 semester, CSUF President Mildred Garcia lauded a 97 percent participation increase in the program.
“This University continues to support and value international study and travel for our faculty and staff,” Garcia said.
That “value” isn’t reflected in the weaknesses noted in the audit, such as the lack of a documented process for selecting third-party providers of study abroad programs.
Such third parties may include other institutions or nonprofit, non-governmental organizations, said CSUF Chief Communications Officer Jeff Cook in an email. The Council on International Educational Exchange, the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIF) and ieiMedia are some of the third-party organizations that provide programs to CSUF students.
The report went on to cite “transparency regarding relationships with third-party providers,” as one of the necessary causes for such documentation of the providers.
The school concurred with the report’s recommendation, and promised to provide written documentation of its process for selecting third-party providers by Oct. 31.
“Processes are in place, and will be provided in written format to the Chancellor’s Office by the date indicated,” Cook said.
It remains to be seen whether or not the school is still on schedule to meet that deadline.
“The next update will be provided at the September (CSU Board of Trustees) meeting,” said public affairs manager for the CSU Chancellor’s Office, Elizabeth Chapin in an email. “The Committee on Audit provides a report for every CSU Board of Trustees meeting that provides a matrix that has a status report on current or past audit assignments.”
Other recommendations made by the audit were documentation of the school’s study abroad training sessions, pre-departure orientations, the study abroad program development process, international student orientation and the school’s emergency response protocols for travelling students and faculty.
The school concurred with all the recommendations in the report and provided dates by which they will have satisfied them. All recommendations are scheduled to be satisfied before the end of the fall 2017 semester, according to the report.
In a Board of Trustees Meeting earlier this year, CSU Vice Chancellor and Chief Audit Officer Larry Mandel said an “informal policy” requires 50 percent of recommendations be completed within six months and that all recommendations be completed within 10 months, unless there is proper reason for an extended period.
“If the six month and/or 10 month targets are surpassed, the campus is contacted,” Mandel said.
Cook said the school has since satisfied the report’s recommendation on emergency preparedness.
“Emergency response processes have been in place, and the auditors recommended they be documented in written format as well,” Cook said. “Supportive documentation was submitted to and accepted by the Chancellor’s Office of Audit and Advisory Services, and the recommendation was formally closed.”