study abroad safety news

Colleges work to better monitor international programs.


FEBRUARY 9, 2019 — 11:46PM

RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER - STAR TRIBUNE

Carleton College student Ross Matican did statistics homework at the Weitz Center for Creativity in Northfield. Matican struggled with health issues during a semester abroad in India this past fall.

Carleton College dispatched three administrators to its study-abroad program in India, after a student reported a local doctor molested her and a rash of illnesses tested the program’s health-care plan.

The University of Minnesota settled a lawsuit by a student who said she was raped while studying in Cuba. And the College of St. Scholastica drew a federal inquiry after a student complained about its handling of her sexual assault during a semester in Ireland.

While such serious problems are rare, Minnesota study-abroad programs have faced growing pressure in recent years to be more vigilant on issues of student health and safety. The state is on the forefront of a national push for study-abroad accountability: In 2014, it passed a first-of-its kind law to require reporting hospitalizations and deaths. Minnesota parents and lawmakers have also pressed for federal oversight of a multibillion-dollar industry that largely polices itself.

“People are starting to focus on student safety in a way they didn’t five years ago,” said Elizabeth Brenner, a Minnetonka advocate whose son died on a study abroad trip in India in 2011.