Forum Responds to Recent Article

Forum President and CEO Brian Whalen has submitted a letter to the editor in response to an article that appeared on July 7 in The Washington Post. A copy of this letter is available below.

July 11, 2017

To the editor:

I am writing in response to an article that appeared in The Washington Post on July 7 (“When study abroad ends in death, US parents find few answers”).

Research indicates that U.S. college students are no more likely to die while studying abroad than on U.S. campuses. Even so, every student death, whether it occurs abroad or at home, is a tragedy.

Through widely-accepted Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, the education abroad field is committed to keeping students safe and preparing them to be safe while studying abroad. This is achieved through a wide range of best practices, including:

  • Requiring pre-departure and onsite orientation related to travel risks as well as risks specific to the education abroad site(s);
  • Conducting regular, thorough risk assessments of program sites and activities;
  • Hiring and training professional staff who are knowledgeable about the location and local risks;
  • Complying with local laws and regulations;
  • Reporting incidents as required by the Clery Act and Title IX/VAWA;
  • Monitoring of and responding to State Department, and other health, safety, and security alerts.

Universities that offer education abroad opportunities provide valuable learning experiences that transform students. An important aspect of offering these opportunities is making sure that all programs offered by universities and their partners are meeting the field’s Standards.

Students and their families should ask their universities and potential program providers about these efforts so that they can make an informed decision when choosing an education abroad program.

Brian Whalen
President and CEO
The Forum on Education Abroad