For International Center, keeping students safe while studying abroad always a priority

Cassidy Alexander

Holly Skinner pauses in her studies in France to take a photo. Skinner, a public relations student, is studying at the Audencia School of Management in Nantes, France until Spring 2016. Photo courtesy International Center
Holly Skinner pauses in her studies in France to take a photo. Skinner, a public relations student, is studying at the Audencia School of Management in Nantes, France until Spring 2016.
Photo courtesy International Center

UNF students who go abroad can rest assured that they’re in good hands. Despite recent world events, UNF will not be re-evaluating their safety policies.

Director of International Affairs Dr. Timothy Robinson said that UNF has “extremely good” safety policies, starting with the approval of faculty-led study abroad programs that make up the majority of student study abroad trips.

Throughout the approval process, those reviewing the trip consider academics, the program itinerary, and the local support the university would have in an area. Additionally, they look at an area’s crime rates, political climate, natural disasters, potential epidemics and general safety. Administrators also consider travel warnings and alerts issued by the U.S. Department of State.

Graphic by Cassicy Alexander
Graphic by Cassidy Alexander

According to Robinson, there is “no hesitation to say that we don’t want our students [in a location].”

After a program has been approved, administrators in the International Center continue to monitor any travel warnings and current events. If, for example, Robinson was watching the news and saw that there was a bomb dropped somewhere in the world, he said that he would immediately get on the phone and find out if there were any UNF students in that location.

“This is on weekends, on night time, whatever. It’s like ‘okay, let’s get in the office, look in the files, figure out who’s where and start calling them,’” Robinson said.

This has happened a number of times, Robinson said, and the International Center will work with students, faculty, parents, and other organizations involved with the host university to account for students’ safety.

Before the trip, though, all students are required to complete a safety training session, which is now being offered online. Faculty members leading programs also attend a training session. Further, faculty members are required to keep a cell phone on them at all times that they can be reach at, and they must create emergency plans to hand out to all students before the trip.

On Nov. 13, Paris was the site of several attacks that left more than 100 people dead. UNF has five students studying abroad in France this semester, though none were in Paris. The International Center was able to contact all UNF students not only in France, but throughout Europe.

“We don’t want to change our activities on this. We’ve got to maybe be smarter in how we do things and maybe act differently in how we do things, but I’d still—if I had the opportunity—I’d still go to Paris,” Robinson said.

Robinson recommends that students be aware of where they’re at, no matter where they are in the world, that they be prepared in case of an emergency, and that they know how to take care of themselves if something did happen.

Students studying abroad can visit the International Center’s website for information on health and safety abroad, including outside resources and information on specific destinations.

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