The Visiting Advisors Program intended to provide a vital site visit component to the Salzburg Global Seminar's work of higher education reform in Central and East Europe (CEE), Russia (R) and the Former Soviet Union States (FSU), in particular the Universities Project. The VAP sent 4-to-5 participant teams of North American and West and East European university presidents and higher education experts, who volunteered their time and expertise, to conduct site visits in Central and East Europe and FSU universities. The goal of the VAP was to provide practical advice and recommendations to institutions in CEE, R and FSU and assist them in the process of institutional self-assessment and curricular reform.

The VAP was originally connected to the broader Universities Project of the Salzburg Global Seminar, to assist in the on-going process of reform at universities in CEE and the RF. The UP ended in 2002 (a final seminar was organized in March 2003) and the VAP concluded in June 2004, as far as the WKKF support was concerned. In addition, In 2002, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs financed three additional VAP visits to institutions in South Caucasus.

In 2003, the Carnegie Corporation provided the Salzburg Global Seminar with a two year grant to undertake seven Russian and Post-Soviet State universities' VAP visits: 3 visits in the Project's first year and 4 visits in the second year. In 2005-2007, The Carnegie Corporation provided the Salzburg Global Seminar with funding for VAP visits to six additional universities in Russia and the Post-Soviet States. In 2007, the Carnegie Corporation provided a third grant. Again for six visits to universities in Russia and the Post-Soviet States. Of these four have been realized with delay, two had to be cancelled.

For the period 1998-2004, the selection of the host institutions was related to their involvement in the UP symposia. Only institutions that had been invited to take part in a UP symposium could be registered as a potential host institution. The host institution had to fill in a form to register for the program and to indicate the issues and problems they would like to analyze, with reference to the five areas that the UP addresses. The decision to accept the host institution's request was made by the Seminar, based on the following criteria: participation in the UP, the identification of issues and problems in relation to the UP. Other factors influencing the decision were: a clear commitment by the leadership of the institution to embrace a change-oriented attitude, the perspective that the rector is still able to implement the recommendations (either because of a recent appointment or because of re-election), and the character and location of the institution.

This policy also was in place during the first grant period of the Carnegie Corporation, which overlapped to a great extent with the UP symposia. For the thirteen visits in the second and third grant period of the Carnegie grant, this policy could not be followed, although it was intended to select as much universities as possible that had taken part in the UP symposia. The changing higher education climate, financial constraints and the no longer existing link to the UP can be mentioned as the main explanations for the delay in the realization of the last four visits (the last one took place in 2010) and the two cancellations. The original objectives of the UP and VAP seem to have been reached sufficiently as to no longer require the support of such programs.