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Risk Management for Study Abroad

Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant increase in international activities at all levels of Canadian universities and community colleges through the internationalization of the curriculum, international development projects, and an increase in bilateral student exchange and study/work/travel abroad activities. One of the significant outcomes of these changes has been a tremendous growth in the number of students going abroad.

One of the challenges that institutions are facing as the demand for study/work/travel abroad programs grows is ensuring that students who are involved in these programs are receiving the essential support services that they require in order to make their cultural and social transitions optimal. As such, institutions need to be pro-active in risk management both at the level of program and of policy. Indeed, all members of the Queen's community involved in education abroad need to be aware of the risks and responsibilities involved in study, work and travel abroad programs.

The number of Queen's students going abroad has increased significantly since the 1990s. With this increase in students abroad the risk of emergencies including accidents and tragic deaths has also increased. On our programs, Queen's program participants have experienced accidents, death and natural disasters. With this in mind, the Emergency Support Program (ESP) for Queen's University Study/Work/Travel Abroad Participants was conceived and established in 1997.

The Study/Work/Travel Abroad process involves a number of stages. At each stage Queen's takes steps to prepare participants and the institution for the unfortunate occurrence of an emergency. The pages linked below lay out the stages, activities and resources so that Queen's Faculty and Staff members involved in the ESP and other international educators can visualize the process and utilize the resources developed by Queen's to assist in building their institution's resource base for promoting health and safety in study/work/travel abroad.

Keep in mind when setting up study abroad programs:

  • Quality support services are risk management
  • Establish an Emergency Response Protocol
  • Prepare students to make informed decisions
  •  Orientation from Selection to Re-entry
  • Create process through which students become Ambassadors
  • Delineate institutional responsibilities and student responsibilities
  • Work with students as partners in sharing responsibility for health and safety abroad
  • Work with Departments/Faculties as partners in managing risk

Specifically for Faculty & Staff Abroad

  • Train Faculty and Staff for Student Supervision
  • Provide a Faculty/Staff Handbook
  • Outline policies, emergency protocol & contact numbers
  • Program & site requirements
  • Emergency Management
  • Cultural/Intercultural setting
  • Delineate institutional and student responsibilities
  • Work with Departments /Faculties as partners in managing risk

If you choose to use any of the Centre's materials, acknowledgement as follows would be appreciated – "Adapted with permission from the Queen's University International Centre at Kingston, Ontario, Canada."

Study Abroad Stage


1.  Principles, Policy, and Priorities

2.  Program & Project Planning

3.  Investigation & Research

4.  Application & Selection

5.  Pre-departure Orientation

6.  During Sojourn Abroad

7.  Return to Home Institution