Complete Safety Assessment
The health and safety of students is USC Aiken's highest priority. A safety assessment helps to ensure that the university has covered all possible aspects related to program safety to every extent possible.
Risk Management for Group Programs
The health and safety of students is USC Aiken's highest priority. Risks associated with travel to and study in program locations must be addressed thoroughly to ensure that the university has covered all possible aspects related to program safety to every extent possible
Site Risk and Safety Assessments
USC Aiken Study Abroad relies on the collaboration of program directors, as experts on the program site, to be closely aware of safety concerns in the program location, to address any safety concerns that may affect the program, and to complete a safety assessment prior to departure. At the same time, if directors have any questions or concerns, he/she should discuss those with the Study Abroad Office as further research can be done jointly. Safety assessments are required to aid on-site personnel in planning for student safety and to serve as written documentation of the safety planning that has taken place prior to a program’s departure.
The safety assessment:
- Ensures that USC Aiken Study Abroad and program personnel are informed about risks associated with program location and how to mitigate those risks
- Ensures that each program director has developed a plan to respond to health, safety and security issues if they arise
- Helps USC Aiken Study Abroad to respond to questions from students, parents, or any University officials about program safety
- Addresses any new issues that may have arisen since the previous year’s assessment
- Serves as a written record of any changes made to a program in order to mitigate risks and ensure student safety
While it would be extremely rare for a program to be canceled or changed substantially, adjustments to onsite arrangements are sometimes necessary or legally required.
- USCA International Health Insurance
- Department of State Travel Advisories
- Department of State Consular Information
- CDC Travelers Health Information
- DOS Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Working with Diverse Students
The Office of International Programs is committed to fostering a safe and inclusive environment and to encouraging a diverse student population to study abroad. As program directors and valued colleagues, it is important to continue this commitment throughout the design and implementation of your program. To best support program directors in this mission, we have curated some resources below.
For all students, studying abroad can be an empowering and challenging experience, particularly for those from diverse and/or underrepresented identities. By leading students on a study abroad program, you may find yourself assisting students as they navigate unfamiliar, challenging and thought-provoking situations. Therefore, in addition to teaching the content of your course and introducing the culture of the host country, you may also find yourselves working with students as they explore their varying identities.
Here are some resources that may be helpful as USC Aiken students plan and prepare for study abroad:
Things to Consider:
- In what ways can I create a commitment to diversity, positive group dynamics, and a culture of care within my program?
- Does my program require a particular level of physical mobility? Are there ways in which I can make my program more accessible to students with limited mobility?
- Is there a way to connect students from underrepresented populations to a local, shared identity-based community for my students?
- What can you do to prepare to discuss diversity issues in the host country? Are there any guest lecturers you can invite to provide a framework and lead a discussion regarding current local issues related to diversity, discrimination, or inclusion initiatives?
When a student’s need arises that you’ve not encountered before, are not comfortable with, or are unable to address, please contact your program coordinator. We have a wealth of resources available at USC Aiken; we want to work with you and our students to make study abroad accessible to all of our students.
Program-Specific Orientation Checklist
In the weeks and months leading up to departure, program directors should hold at least one pre-departure orientation with accepted students. Below is a list of suggested topics to cover at orientation meetings.
Please note, this checklist is meant to serve as a guide and is not all-inclusive. Program directors should add any additional information specific to their program.
- Description of roles
- Icebreakers and team-building activities
- Group rules and expectations
- Diversity Abroad Network’s Matrix for Self-Care and Creating Brave Spaces as Education Abroad Program Directors
Health and Safety
- Local health care overview
- Legality of medication
- How to use international health insurance
- Local food and water
- Crime and safety advice/host country laws
- Group responsibility
- Emergency Response Plan
- Meeting place
- Backup plan
- Key contacts
- On-site partners
- International health insurance
- Nearest U.S. consulate/embassy
- Home institution emergency phone
- Counseling crisis line
- 911 equivalent
- Nearest hospital and pharmacy
- Course syllabus and materials
- Culture and academic norms in host location
- Academic expectations
- Participation and attendance requirements
- Program-specific rules, expectations, and guidelines
- Program itinerary
- Host country entry and exit requirements
- Travel information
- Arrival time
- Local transportation tips
- Housing expectations
- In-country communication options
- Group communication plan
- Family communication plan
- Electronic device requirements and advice
- Overview of program cost and inclusions
- Payment tips for host location
- Money saving tips
Program Review and Assessment
USC Aiken Study Abroad strives for a culture of continuous improvement, including group programs. Each program coordinator will schedule a meeting with the program leadership upon return to discuss and reflect on the current year's program and to begin planning for the future.
Group Programs Reviews and Assessment
The Office of International Programs completes an annual and ongoing assessment of all programs, with the goal of enhancing their success and ensuring that programs support strategic goals.
Program Assessments Include:
- A debrief with the program director and study abroad staff
- Student program evaluations (program evaluations compliment course evaluations, focusing on programmatic support, global competencies, health and safety)
- Program budget review
- Feedback from department heads
- Risk management
- Student interest and program enrollments
The primary goal is to work with program directors and corresponding academic units to make program improvements and address any issues; however, the Office of Intenational Programs reserves the right to cancel programs should it determine that strategic goals for effective program delivery are not being met and high-quality programming cannot be maintained.
Criteria for Cancelling or Not Renewing a Program
The Office of International Programs, as well as the appropriate department and/or college, reserves the right to cancel or not approve an application to renew a study abroad program if any of the following occur:
- Events at the study abroad site(s) indicate that the security of students cannot be reasonably protected.
- The program director does not fulfill his/her responsibilities as defined in the contract and the on-site program-director handbook.
- The program director has been unwilling to collaborate with the OIP on the management of the study abroad program. Examples include, but are not limited to the following situations:
- The program director does not pursue obtaining solid, accurate estimates from vendors for on-site program expenses and/or does not actively engage in the program budgeting process.
- The program director does not submit program receipts within the 20-day period upon return from the program
- The program director or faculty are not responsive to requests and communications from the OIP
- The minimum number of students has not been met. First-year programs are expected to reach a minimum enrollment of 12 students. Programs should have a minimum enrollment for 15 students in subsequent years. After several years, if a program cannot meet minimum enrollment, the program may not be recommended for renewal.
- Program evaluations contain consistent negative feedback from students and changes to the program have not led to improved feedback
- Programs will be evaluated regularly by participants, program administrators, instructors, and the appropriate college-based liaison to determine the extent to which program objectives are being met. If necessary, changes or adjustments will be made in light of the findings. If after changes have been implemented and program evaluations have not shown improvement, the program may be recommended for cancellation.
- The status of the program director or faculty member in the department/college/university changes.
- A complete renewal application is not submitted by the deadline, or information is insufficient to assess program viability.
- The OIP staff determines that the program is no longer feasible for financial, organizational, or other reasons.
All program staff and students are expected to check in with USC Aiken if there is a major emergency situation (terrorist activity, acute political unrest, natural disaster) in the location in which they are studying or traveling.
For medical emergencies, seek medical help first by calling the 9-1-1 equivalent in your area. Then, you can contact:
During office hours (8:00 am – 5:00 pm EST)
- USC Aiken Study Abroad: 803-648-6851
- USC Aiken Counseling Center: 803-641-3609
- USC Aiken Psychology Clinic: 803-641-3775
- USC Aiken Police Department: 803-648-4011
- University Police will contact the Study Abroad Emergency Response Team.
- Collect calls are accepted by the Study Abroad Office and University Police.
Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence
- Immediately contact University Police at 803-648-4011 or the Rape Crisis Center at 803-641-4162 (after hours and weekends at 648-9900).
- View USC Aiken's Sexual Assault Policy
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires U.S. colleges and universities who participate in Title IV federal student financial aid programs to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses or in off-campus facilities. Study Abroad programs are subject to the Clery Act; therefore, the Office of International Programs must submit information about crimes to the police.
The Campus Security Authority incident report and study abroad incident reports should both be submitted as soon as possible after becoming aware of a crime or any other incident.