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Responsibilities of the Office of Overseas Study for Approved IU Programs Abroad

  1. Conduct regular assessments of health and safety conditions for IU programs, including program-sponsored accommodation, events, excursions and other activities, prior to program. Monitor possible changes in country conditions. Provide information about changes and advise participants and their parents/guardians/families as needed. Develop and maintain emergency preparedness and crisis response plans.
  2. Provide guidelines for program directors and staff with respect to managing emergencies abroad.
  3. Provide orientation meetings and materials to participants prior to departure for the program and onsite, which include appropriate information on health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country. In addition to dealing with health and safety issues, the orientation should address potential health and safety risks, and appropriate emergency response measures. Ask students to share this information with their parents/guardians/families so they can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation, and behavior while on the program.
  4. Consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual's participation in a study abroad program.
  5. In the participant screening process, consider factors such as disciplinary history that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
  6. Provide students with information on the role of and assistance provided by the on-site resident director or program coordinator.
  7. Discuss with students, following their selection but prior to their participation in a study abroad program, individual health and disciplinary history issues, that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
  8. Provide health insurance (including emergency evacuation and repatriation) to participants or assure that participants receive information about how to obtain such coverage.
  9. Direct on-site program staff to provide information for participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding available medical and support services, and to help participants obtain the services they may need.
  10. Hire vendors and contractors (e.g. travel and tour agents) that have provided reputable services in the country in which the program takes place. Advise such vendors and contractors of the program sponsor's expectations with respect to their role in the health and safety of participants.
  11. Communicate applicable codes of conduct and the consequences of noncompliance to participants. Take appropriate action when participants are in violation.
  12. In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety circumstances, maintain good communication among all program sponsors. When informed about an emergency situation abroad in a city or country where IU students are located, work to confirm the safety of IU students. Depending upon the type of program, such communications might be directed to partner institutions/organizations, to IU program faculty/staff traveling with students, or to individual students. 
  13. Provide these guidelines to participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding when and where the responsibility of the IU Office of Overseas Study ends, and the aspects of participants' overseas experiences that are beyond the control of Overseas Study. In particular, Overseas Study generally:
    • Cannot guarantee or ensure the safety of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad environments.
    • Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of individual participants.
    • Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities.
    • Cannot ensure that U.S. standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants;
    • Cannot ensure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.
    • Cannot fully replicate home campus support services at overseas locations;
    • Cannot assume responsibility for the actions of persons not employed or otherwise engaged by Overseas Study, for events that are not part of the program, or that are beyond the control of Overseas Study and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.

These guidelines were adapted from the NAFSA Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility (May 2002), as approved by Indiana University's Overseas Study Advisory Council.

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Our daily lives are so different from people across the globe. To learn about how other people live their lives, it makes you think about how you want to live your life. It’s character building.”

-Maggie Brinley, IU Overseas Study Participant, Spain