Is Education Abroad Safe?
With preparation and ongoing awareness of health and safety issues, living abroad can be just as safe as living in the United States.
Staying healthy and safe during your education abroad experience is a shared responsibility between you and CCU. The CCU Center for Global Engagement continuously monitors security and safety-related conditions in all countries where CCU has university-approved education abroad programs. We rely on multiple resources to gather information and make decisions regarding international safety and security.
- Communicating with contacts from the U.S. Department of State, host institutions and program providers to constantly monitor security situations abroad, obtain accurate information, and make appropriate, timely decisions regarding CCU student, staff and faculty travel to countries where education abroad programs exist.
- Making sure that every CCU education abroad student, faculty and staff is registered with the U.S. Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
- Enrolling every CCU education abroad student, faculty and staff in an affordable and comprehensive international health insurance policy that includes health and accident coverage, political and security risk coverage, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.
- Facilitating emergency preparedness training for CCU Program Leaders, and requiring every CCU education abroad participant to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation where they will learn to recognize the health and safety challenges of traveling and living abroad to be able to adapt, learn and excel in their new environment.
- Mitigating risks appropriately in all locations where we place students by reviewing and approving all CCU faculty-led program proposals, ensuring that host families are thoroughly vetted, and confirming that student accommodations are safe.
In the event of an international crisis situation, the CCU is responsible for contacting or accounting for all students, staff and faculty; responding to or referring concerned callers; collaborating with on-campus partners to assess the safety of the program location for continued program presence; and communicating this assessment to university leadership, faculty, students and other stakeholders.
International Crisis Management Team (ICMT): We developed the International Crisis Management Team, which brings together campus experts representing a broad spectrum of the campus community to support campus community members who are abroad in the event of incidents or emergencies. The ICMT was established to provide, on an as needed basis, the ability to come together to a coordinated, effective, and timely response to incidents evolving on international study, research, and work experiences of the faculty, staff, and students of Coastal Carolina University with the goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of both the affected student, faculty, or staff member(s) as well as that of the entire group traveling together and thereby assure effective long-term partnerships that deliver value to Coastal Carolina University’s academic model. This model has allowed us to deliver quick solutions to support our students, faculty, and staff abroad.
CCU Students’ Responsibilities
- Listening to the information provided by CCU as well as the tips shared during pre-departure orientation so that you can recognize health and safety challenges of traveling and living abroad to be able to adapt, learn and excel in your new environment. This includes doing research on your host country so that you understand the laws and cultural attitudes and minimize negative interactions with others.
- Disclosing any needs you have that might affect your health, safety or wellness abroad to the CCU Education Abroad team, appropriate CCU campus offices and/or the program staff in your host country. Examples include but are not limited to interest in accommodations for accessibility, studying or interning abroad while taking prescription medications, studying or interning abroad while pregnant, feeling ill, feeling unsafe, bodily injury, self-injury, suicidal ideation, having been the victim of a crime, extreme homesickness, allergies, struggling with classes, etc.
- Making sure that you check your CCU email account regularly for messages from CCU about accessing your international health insurance information, security issues and emergencies, study abroad courses and credit, etc.
- Communicating with CCU as well as the on-site program staff about any additional travel and activities you have planned which are independent of your education abroad program.
- Developing a communication plan with your loved ones such as parents or guardians that addresses when and how often you will be in contact while abroad (e.g., a first call home upon arrival in your host country).
Parents, families and guardians play an important role in the health and safety of education abroad participants by helping them make smart decisions and promoting responsible behavior overseas. When appropriate, loved ones can support their student by:
- Asking your student to share health and safety information related to their education abroad program. Although our staff provides much of this information on the Education Abroad website, it may also help to read and carefully evaluate the information that is sent directly to your student.
- Being involved in the decision of your student to enroll in a particular program.
- Engaging your student in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, insurance needs and emergency procedures related to living abroad.
- Being responsive to requests from CCU for information regarding your student.
- Keeping in touch with your student.
- Being aware that some information may most appropriately be provided by your student rather than the program.
For more information, please visit our Parents & Guardians webpage.
Cancellations Due to Security Changes
Should the security situation change in any education abroad program location, CCU would not hesitate to cancel a program before it has been completed.
- Students participating in CCU faculty-led programs would NOT incur a financial obligation in the event that their program is cancelled for security reasons.
- Students participating in CCU partner programs, such as exchange partner programs or third-party provider programs, would be subject to the program's cancellation and refund policies.
- In the event that security is heightened in a program's host country but the program has not been cancelled, students who have committed to participate may choose to voluntarily withdraw; however, students who withdraw from an active program would incur a financial obligation.
- CCU's international risk management policies and travel insurance coverage through A.I.G.
- CCU Student Health Services
- CCU Accessibility & Disability Services
- Passport Health Myrtle Beach: A travel clinic that provides consultation and immunizations for persons who will be traveling in other countries; recommended for students who are studying abroad in non-traditional education abroad locations (areas outside of Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand).
- Students Abroad Travel Information: The U.S. Department of State offers advice and information targeted to students planning to travel and study abroad.
- Center for Disease Control: Geographic health recommendations and information on diseases transmitted by insect, food, water, and people.
- World Health Organization
- The SAFETI (Safety Abroad First – Educational Travel Information) Clearinghouse Project: Creates and disseminates resources about health and safety issues related to education abroad. While the website's aim is to provide resources for education abroad professionals, students and parents will find some of the information relevant.
- Safety Abroad Handbook: Background information on health and safety, as well as relevant questions, a checklist, a sample emergency card, and useful words and phrases to know.