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European gap year programs



Since its inception IFE has successfully promoted access to its programs for a diverse and inclusive range of student profiles, backgrounds and means.

IFE accomplishes this not through policy statements but rather by actions:

- costs are kept low enough that financial factors rarely dictate a student’s exclusion;
- furthermore, for those students whose means would not otherwise permit consideration of an IFE program, IFE works with the student individually to tailor the conditions of participation to fit their financial profile;
- IFE offers only small, human-scaled programs providing ample support, advising, and regular follow-up, which are often of particular value for students from diverse backgrounds;
- IFE works with each potential candidate, for any of its programs, to determine if the program choice is suitable and what specific needs a student may have;
- IFE’s programs entail a high degree of individualization and students’ needs, strengths and weaknesses are readily taken into account in planning each student’s trajectory.


Students enrolled in any IFE program are legal adults. (Legal adulthood in Europe begins at 18 years of age.) IFE treats students as adults and expects students to act like adults including taking responsibility for their actions and the consequences of their actions.

The basic, universal notion of adulthood is presumed to be respect for oneself and for others, including care to avoid harming oneself, others, or the property and interests of others.

IFE is at the same time mindful of the impact of cultural differences on what is expected of an adult in an unfamiliar cultural setting, and on one’s awareness of these expectations, especially for individuals in early adulthood.

In addition, it is customary in France and Spain that domestic, social and professional settings are governed by unwritten codes of conduct; European society is generally not characterized by “anything goes”. A long tradition of dense populations sharing common space is undoubtedly the source of noticeable differences for young people arriving in Europe from the United States.

Accordingly, IFE puts a clear emphasis in the orientation period of all its programs on briefing students on what will be expected of them in terms of responsible behavior in the several settings in which they will find themselves: in family life; in public, in the classroom, and on the job.

Any student who repeatedly demonstrates behavior careless of themselves or of others – or clearly disrespectful of people, relationships and organizations with which they are involved, and this despite warnings issued by IFE, may be asked to leave the program.


To read IFE’s full health and safety protocol, see attached document.


To read IFE’s COVID policy, see attached document.

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