Study Abroad Health and Safety Issues
Student Safety is Our Top Priority
We are proactive about risk management in order to reduce risk to students as much as possible, but we cannot eliminate all risk. Furthermore, student behavior is a critical, perhaps the critical, component of a safe study abroad experience.
We have an experienced senior management team with 100 years of cumulative experience in higher education,study abroad and risk management and have helped shape some of the industry standards for best practices in study abroad.
Some of the steps we take as part of our focus on safety include:
- Providing pre-departure material with detailed health and safety instructions.
- Procuring medical and medical evacuation insurance for all our students.
- Providing all students with a local cellphone for emergency use.
- Delivering multi-day on-site student orientations that include overviews of health and safety practices. We also take students on tours of their host cities as a part of their semester study abroad program to highlight important services, relatively safe or unsafe areas and other items of importance.
- Providing students with emergency contact cards with key phone numbers of local directors, local emergency services, US support lines, the local American embassy, and emergency taxi service.
- Registering all students with the American embassy
- Enrolled in OSAC (of the US State Department) and two separate corporate intelligence programs for immediate updates on emerging crisis situations
- Maintaining a preferred network of trusted local doctors and medical services
- Personally selecting all student housing
- Having local program directors available to students on a 24/7 basis.
Operating our educational travel with reputable providers.
This means that we always stay in tourist-class hotels (never hostels) in sensible areas of towns during our travel.
Our air and ground transportation is provided by major airlines and reputable local charter bus operators or taxi services
- Not operating programs in countries currently facing a US State Department Travel Warning
- Regularly reviewing emergency response and crisis management plans with local program directors.
Students Are Responsible For Their Safety.
Having said all that, sensible student behavior is critical to ensuring a safe and healthy experience.
All students on our study abroad students are legally adults and are ultimately responsible for their decision-making and their safety. We expect students to act in a safe and thoughtful manner; otherwise, we reserve the right to ask a student to leave the program.
We encourage students and parents to have in-depth discussions about safety before and during the study abroad process. We also encourage parents and students to read the Health and Safety Practices recommended by the Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad, a consortium made up of the leading organizations in overseas studies.
We believe these practices offer a helpful overview of the best practices for study abroad providers, students and parents in health and safety issues.
In all our summer study abroad programs, students have some free, unstructured time where they can choose their own activities. These activities can include local activities in their home city, domestic travel in their host country or international travel to other countries.
We are often asked by students and parents if a certain student's travel plans are "safe". We cannot and will not evaluate student travel itineraries for safety. Furthermore, safety during independent travel depends largely on the student. What might be safe for an experienced and mature traveler, might not be for an inexperienced and immature one.
Researching and evaluating the health and safety implications of independent travel is solely the responsibility of the student.
We and our local program directors may share our personal knowledge or understanding of a given situation but this information is not meant to be exhaustive or conclusive and we disclaim any responsibility for a student's independent travel decisions. We communicate this message to students in all orientation sessions.
You should be aware that we will never endorse an activity that is not part of our program itinerary, though we will, on occasion, recommend against activities that we believe are particularly risky. The absence of a recommendation against an activity does not constitute an explicit or implicit endorsement on our part of that activity.