Health, Safety and Security While Abroad-Away
One of the major concerns students and their families have as they begin looking into studying abroad-away has to do with safety and security outside of the United States. While no one can guarantee the safety of students in any location, including the United States, or eliminate all risks from traveling and studying abroad-away, Misericordia University is committed to taking all reasonable steps to ensure that students are not placed in locations that expose them to undue risk.
To that end, Misericordia University carefully monitors the U.S. State Department travel warnings, travel alerts, and public announcements, and communicates regularly with our overseas partners about safety and security concerns or issues. Misericordia University is also a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). OSAC is an office housed within the United States Department of State and issues twice daily briefings on safety and security. In addition to monitoring security, safety, and health issues world-wide, Misericordia University provides students with comprehensive health and emergency evacuation insurance coverage.
Who is Responsible for Keeping You Safe?
Mitigating safety, security, and health risks abroad is a partnership between Misericordia University, you and your families. Misericordia University cannot control all of the daily personal decisions, choices and activities that you make while abroad-away and cannot prevent you from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities, but you can.
Responsibilities of You, Your Family and Misericordia University
A. Should assume responsibility for all the elements necessary for your personal preparation for the program and participate fully in pre-departure and other program orientations.
B. Must read and carefully consider all materials issued by Misericordia University and the study program sponsor that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in your host country.
C. Must conduct your own research on the country or countries you plan to visit with particular attention to health and safety concerns, as well as the social, cultural, and political situations.
D. Must consider your physical and mental health, and other personal circumstances when applying for or accepting a place in a program, and make available to the sponsor accurate and complete physical and mental health information and any other personal data that is necessary in planning for a safe and healthy study abroad-away experience.
E. Must inform your parents/guardians/families and any others who may need to know about your participation in the study program. This includes providing them with emergency contact information, and keeping them informed of your whereabouts and activities.
G Must understand and comply with the terms of program participation, codes of conduct, and emergency procedures of the program.
H. Must be aware of local conditions and customs that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices and decisions. Promptly express any health or safety concerns to the faculty leaders of the program, the host university officials, the program staff, or other appropriate individuals before and/or during the program.
I. Must accept responsibility for your own decisions and actions.
J. Must obey host-country laws.
K. Should behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well-being of others, and encourage others to behave in a similar manner.
L. Must avoid illegal drugs and excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol.
M. Must follow the program policies for keeping program staff informed of your whereabouts and well-being.
N. Should become familiar with the procedures for obtaining emergency health and legal system services in your host county.
Responsibilities of Parents/Guardians/Families
In study abroad-away, as in other settings, parents, guardians, and families can play an important role in the health and safety of participants by helping them make decisions and by influencing their behavior overseas.
A. Be informed about and involved in the decision of the participant to enroll in a particular program.
B. Obtain and carefully evaluate participant program materials, as well as related health, safety, and security information.
C. Discuss with your student any of his/her travel plans and activities that may be independent of the study abroad-away program.
D. Engage your student in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues and emergency procedures related to living abroad-away.
E. Be responsive to requests from the program sponsor for information regarding your student.
F. Keep in touch with your student.
G. Be aware that the student rather than the program may most appropriately provide some information.
Responsibilities of Misericordia University:
A. Will conduct periodic assessments of health and safety conditions for its programs, and develop and maintain emergency preparedness processes and a crisis response plan.
B. Will provide health and safety information for students so that they and their parents/guardians/families can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation, and behavior while on the program.
C. Provide information concerning aspects of home campus services and conditions that cannot be replicated at overseas locations.
D. Ensure pre-departure and post-arrival orientation to students, including information on safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country. The orientation, among others, will address potential health and safety risks and appropriate emergency response measures.
E. Will consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual's participation in a study abroad-away program.
F. Will enroll all participants in a comprehensive health and emergency evacuation insurance plan.
G. Will conduct inquiries regarding the potential health, safety, and security risks of the local environment of the program, including program-sponsored accommodation, events, excursions, and other activities, prior to the program. Will monitor possible changes in country conditions and will provide information about changes, and advise students and their parents/guardians/families as needed.
H. Will provide information for students and their parents/guardians/families regarding when and where the sponsor's responsibility ends and the range of aspects of students' overseas experiences that are beyond the sponsor's control.