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Safety Resources for Study Abroad Program

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Following the March 22 terror attack on Westminster Bridge, University at Albany students may be left wondering what safety measures are in place if they choose to study abroad.

UAlbany offers two study abroad programs in London, not to mention over 100 programs across the world, yet the safety policies held by both the university and the host universities are not clearly found on the university’s’ website.

For UAlbany, the policies for international student safety go past UAlbany as a singular university. Renée DeCelle, the associate director of the Education Abroad program at SUNY Albany, explained that UAlbany is part of a larger network called NAFSA, an association for international educators, with other universities that all participate in the study abroad program. This network keeps track of all students in the program, regardless of what university they attend.

In the event of a crisis, NAFSA will help monitor the situation, and should any university get in touch with a student of another, they let the student’s university know of their status. With the help of an email listserv that connects all the universities participating in the study abroad, students around the area of attack will get notified. The students will then be expected to check back in with their host universities to let them know that they are okay.

According to DeCelle, the reasoning behind checking in on students within a larger area that the one that was attacked, is that people travel.

“On weekends, on their off days, and we reach out to a bigger group, say, in this case all the students in the United Kingdom, not just the students in London,” DeCelle said.

She also noted that within this system, the student’s host universities are much more likely to know what they would be up to in their day to day lives, and would be more aware of what would be more heavily impacted, such as traffic and transit changes.

The host universities are also the ones that have events and meetings for the affected students. DeCelle compared this to the events that were hosted by UAlbany after the recent travels ban was first proposed.

UAlbany, as well as the other American universities in NAFSA, hosts an emergency phone line that international students can call if they feel they need to get in touch with someone at the school immediately. In UAlbany’s case, this is the hotline sponsored by Middle Earth, and advisors that can consult with international students.

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