Members of NAFSA: Association of International Educators are dedicated to providing high-quality education and services to participants in international education and exchange. NAFSA members represent a wide variety of institutions, disciplines, and services. This Statement of Ethics proposes to set standards which institutions may adopt to guide the professional preparation and conduct of individuals working in international education.

Members are encouraged to use the Statement of Ethics as an educational tool for working with other members and nonmembers of NAFSA.

All members, whether paid or unpaid for their work in international education and exchange, are encouraged to maintain professional standards.

International educators operate in complex environments, with legitimate and sometimes competing interests to satisfy. Ultimately, their primary concern must be to the long-term health of international educational exchange programs and participants.

Sorting through ethical dilemmas is often best done with help from others, either one’s supervisor or colleagues in the organization or experts in the subject-matter area.
Since members work in an area affected by rapid social, political, and economic changes, they must stay informed of current developments to be professionally competent.
One of the most challenging aspects of work in the field of international education and exchange is balancing among the dictates of various cultures and value systems. Members must be aware of the influence that culture has had on their own values and habits and on the interpretations and judgments they make of the thoughts and habits of others.

Notices of meetings or events should always include the content matter, intent, and sponsor of the meeting or event. Using unsolicited, coercive, manipulative and/or hidden persuasion that seeks to influence others to adopt another way of thinking, believing, or behaving is not in the best interest of the program or participants.

While enjoying interpersonal interactions with people from other cultures, members need to avoid situations in which their judgments may be, or appear to be, clouded because of personal relationships— either positive or negative ones.

Although a categorical ban on accepting gifts might be impractical for members who work with individuals representing cultures where the giving of gifts is important, members need to exercise caution in accepting gifts that might be intended to influence them.

Members’ professional and ethical responsibilities extend beyond program participants to all individuals with whom they have interactions, whether they are prospective students and scholars, friends and relatives of program participants, or the general public.

Students and scholars often don’t understand the processes and procedures for safeguarding their rights in the United States. Members should provide information about these or make referrals as appropriate.
Being tolerant and respectful of different behaviors and values among individuals who are culturally similar is often more difficult than being tolerant of those differences of people from other cultures. Nevertheless, members should make every effort to show their same-culture colleagues the respect they show their different-culture clients.

Just as they have duties to their clients, members have responsibilities to their professional colleagues, including those with whom they work in carrying out NAFSA leadership duties.

It is often tempting to overlook the long-term need for professional development in the press of daily business. Members are encouraged to seek continuing professional development.
  1. NAFSA Members Have a Responsibility to:
    1. Maintain high standards of professional conduct.
    2. Follow ethical practices outlined in the Statement of Ethics.
    3. Balance the wants, needs, and requirements of program participants, institutional policies, laws, and sponsors. Members’ ultimate concern must be the long-term well-being of participants in international education and exchange programs.
    4. Resist pressures (personal, social, organizational, financial, and political) to use their influence inappropriately and refuse to allow self-aggrandizement or personal gain to influence their professional judgments.
    5. Seek appropriate guidance and direction when faced with ethical dilemmas.
    6. Make every effort to ensure that their services are offered only to individuals and organizations with a legitimate claim on these services.
  2. In Their Professional Preparation and Development, Members Shall:
    1. Accurately represent their areas of competence, education, training, and experience.
    2. Recognize the limits of their expertise and confine themselves to performing duties for which they are properly educated, trained, and qualified, making referrals when situations are outside their area of competence.
    3. Be informed of current developments in their fields, and ensure their continuing development and competence.
    4. Stay abreast of laws and regulations that affect their clients.
    5. Stay knowledgeable about world events that impact international educational program participants.
    6. Stay knowledgeable about differences in cultural and value orientations.
    7. Refer others to NAFSA’s Statement of Ethics when practices that contravene it become evident.
  3. In Relationships with Students, Scholars, and Others, Members Shall:
    1. Understand and protect the civil and human rights of all individuals.
    2. Not discriminate with regard to race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, political opinion, immigration status, or disability.
    3. Recognize their own cultural and value orientations and be aware of how those orientations affect their interactions with people from other cultures.
    4. Demonstrate awareness of, sensitivity to, and respect for other educational systems, values, beliefs, and cultures.
    5. Not exploit, threaten, coerce, or sexually harass others.
    6. Not use one’s position to proselytize.
    7. Refrain from invoking governmental or institutional regulations in order to intimidate participants in matters not related to their status.
    8. Maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and security of participants’ records and of all communications with program participants. Members shall secure permission of the individuals before sharing information with others inside or outside the organization, unless disclosure is authorized by law or institutional policy or is mandated by previous arrangement.
    9. Inform participants of their rights and responsibilities in the context of the institution and the community.
    10. Respond to inquiries fairly, equitably, and professionally.
    11. Provide accurate, complete, current, and unbiased information.
    12. Refrain from becoming involved in personal relationships with students and scholars when such relationships might result in either the appearance or the fact of undue influence being exercised on the making of professional judgments.
    13. Accept only gifts that are of nominal value and that do not seem intended to influence professional decisions, while remaining sensitive to the varying significance and implications of gifts in different cultures.
    14. Identify and provide appropriate referrals for students or scholars who experience unusual levels of emotional difficulty.
    15. Provide information, orientation, and support services needed to facilitate participants’ adaptation to a new educational and cultural environment.
  4. In Professional Relationships, Members Shall:
    1. Show respect for the diversity of viewpoints among colleagues, just as they show respect for the diversity of viewpoints among their clients.
    2. Refrain from unjustified or unseemly criticism of fellow members, other programs, and other organizations.
    3. Use their office, title, and professional associations only for the conduct of official business.
    4. Uphold agreements when participating in joint activities and give due credit to collaborators for their contributions.
    5. Carry out, in a timely and professional manner, any NAFSA responsibilities they agree to accept.
  5. In Administering Programs, Members Shall:
    1. Clearly and accurately represent the identity of the organization and the goals, capabilities, and costs of programs.
    2. Recruit individuals, paid and unpaid, who are qualified to offer the instruction or services promised, train and supervise them responsibly, and ensure by means of regular evaluation that they are performing acceptably and that the overall program is meeting its professed goals.
    3. Encourage and support participation in professional development activities.
    4. Strive to establish standards, activities, instruction, and fee structures that are appropriate and responsive to participant needs.
    5. Provide appropriate orientation, materials, and on-going guidance for participants.
    6. Provide appropriate opportunities for students and scholars to observe and to join in mutual inquiry into cultural differences.
    7. Take appropriate steps to enhance the safety and security of participants.
    8. h. Strive to ensure that the practices of those with whom one contracts do conform to NAFSA’s Statement of Ethics.
  6. In Making Public Statements, Members Shall:
    1. Clearly distinguish, in both written and oral public statements, between their personal opinions and those opinions representing NAFSA, their own institutions, or other organizations.
    2. Provide accurate, complete, current, and unbiased information.

Original text approved by the NAFSA Board of Directors on May 28, 1989.
On September 19, 2008, the Board of Directors approved recommendations made by the Subcommittee for Ethical Practice, including the change of the name of this document to Statement of Ethics for International Educators.