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NAFSA Statement on Safety in Study Abroad

Today NAFSA: Association of International Educators issued the following statement addressing study abroad safety issues raised by an article published in today in USA Today:

As the world’s largest professional association dedicated to international education, NAFSA’s mission is to support the movement of students and scholars across borders.  Thousands of our members are engaged in the day-to-day management and administration of programs that make it possible for American college students to gain important international experience and knowledge through study abroad.  Each year, more than 200,000 American college students study abroad at locations across the globe. The health, safety, and security of students are the top priority of study abroad professionals.

Study abroad is very safe. No experience, whether in our own communities or in the world beyond, is completely free of risk, but incidents such as those reported in the USA Today article are rare.  Study abroad professionals are dedicated to doing everything they can, working with students, parents, institutions, and host communities, to create the safest possible experience for study abroad participants.

The USA Today article cites a lack of regulation of overseas crime reporting related to study abroad.  NAFSA welcomes discussion of possible appropriate policies aimed at improving student safety.  In considering what may be done, it is important to recognize that the establishment of further requirements to report crime statistics cannot, in and of itself, make programs safer or prevent random acts of violence.  NAFSA and its members in the field of study abroad are dedicated to comprehensive efforts to improve student safety and security.

Study abroad is increasingly understood to be an essential part of the education of today’s college students, providing an unparalleled opportunity to gain the international knowledge, foreign language skills, and intercultural awareness required for life and work in today’s interconnected world and global job market.