Toward evidence-based study abroad

iStock_80899065_LARGEState legislation

In 2014, Minnesota state legislators Senator Terri Bonoff and Representative Yvonne Selcer passed this nation’s first ever study abroad state law. It requires reporting of deaths and injuries during study abroad by programs recruiting Minnesota students. The following year, Minnesota passed a companion bill, which requires similar reporting from study abroad programs for K-12 students.

In 2016, the state of Virginia likewise passed legislation requiring study abroad safety reporting, and the state of New York is drafting language.

The difficulty with state laws is this—the strongest data is aggregated, that is, combined data from all schools, across all states, over many years. While the advent of state laws sends a signal to the study abroad industry and federal government, the value of state data is restricted by its own geography.