3 best practices for managing student travel

Colleges are using technology to maintain real-time connections with travelers and provide them with emergency resources

It is also helpful to provide an overview of pertinent health-related topics that can help student and faculty travelers reduce their safety risks when travelling, including the role of self-responsibility, maintaining situational awareness, preparing for personal medical needs ahead of time, understanding cultural nuances, and being cautious about engaging in non-program-related activities—especially alone—or where non-screened vendors are providing services.

It is important to highlight the perception of what it means to be an American in a foreign country, as this issue may present challenges in particular areas. For example, if the prevailing local sentiment about the United States or its policies is negative, then institutions should proactively communicate this dynamic and offer strategies for avoiding unnecessary risks and diffusing possible conflicts.

3. Leverage mobile devices + GPS technology

With the right capabilities enabled, travelers’ smartphones can serve as an invaluable resource for emergencies in a moment of need. Not only can students and faculty receive mobile alerts about possible crisis situations as they are unfolding, but they can also immediately tap into local resources provided by their institution and transmit GPS information to their home campuses to confirm their location during an emergency situation. Institutions can also push alerts or directions to travelers via email or SMS text to share developments or instructions for departing the location, if needed.

Universities and colleges can also use student and faculty travelers’ GPS data to locate them in real time if they are away from their primary destination during a crisis. This capability can be vital for confirming an individual’s current safety status and providing updated emergency resources for the local area if different from their study-abroad location. As an example, a student studying abroad in Spain may have taken a weekend trip to France when an unexpected emergency occurs.

Overall, managing and maintaining safety protocols across study abroad and any off-campus programs requires a modern approach that keeps home universities connected to travelers in real time and enables greater duty of care. With the help of technology—particularly mobile devices—institutions can proactively communicate emergency alerts, engage in safety check-ins, and provide up-to-date resources for students and faculty to engage with when it is most needed.

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