Educate Yourself: to students and parents

Where to find a study abroad program’s safety record

iStock_88344327_XXXLARGEAt campus-hosted study abroad forums, the goal of programs is to recruit students. Thus, program materials have the flavor of marketing, with beautiful photos and captions that promise a life changing experience.

Because there are no transparency requirements of the study abroad industry, it can be difficult for parents and students to find both neutral and comprehensive information about student safety.

We advise that you call programs; ask each for its safety record. If the program is a third party program, then three calls are in order—to the third party program, the school of record, and the home university.

Each school should know its study abroad program’s safety record and share this information.

However, understand this too. Programs have no obligation to disclose safety information, and we are aware of programs that have not answered safety questions truthfully. After conversations with your study abroad program, if your gut-level radar is kicking in, ask the program to put its safety information into a written communication.

Read beyond the marketing materials. Poke around on the Internet for news stories. Country news sources can be particularly informative, as local people instinctively understand their landscape.

Finally, ask your community’s reference librarian how to find information about a program beyond its marketing materials.