Summer (May-September) is peak season for university programs overseas, as students flood all seven continents, pursuing various cultural, political, academic, and service programs aimed at gaining new experiences globally. When conducting study abroad and travel programs– whether on short-term (1 week to a month) or long-term (1 semester to a year) programs – universities must ensure they provide a line of protection for their students, by creating a customized, program-specific safety and security plan. Now is the best time for universities to have appropriate measures in place to support their students while ensuring they fulfill their duty of care obligation. By simply utilizing one or more of the following safety and security services, universities will limit the students’ exposure to a potential crisis and give them added confidence, even in the most challenging of locations.
Ground Support with Safety and Security Coordinators
Ground support services provide groups with Safety and Security Coordinators who not only understand the local conditions, including cultural familiarities, language fluency, and sociopolitical tensions, but also have a wealth of experience supporting visitors in your particular region of travel, and working with local authorities. This expertise is necessary when students are traveling or studying in a foreign environment. Such agents and security coordinators come from either a military service, law enforcement, or commercial security background, and have proven experience in providing close protection services. Coordinators are highly proactive and respond effectively during emergency situations, guaranteeing program staff the peace of mind that that the appropriate levels of support, guidance, and medical assistance are readily available.
To enable student programs to run smoothly, the security coordinators manage logistics, plan secure routes, avoid problematic areas, and know the locations of emergency facilities. By supporting the faculty and group leaders in this manner, universities are able to focus on providing the best experience for their students and remove the stress of dealing with areas outside the staff’s expertise. In the event of an incident, coordinators provide an immediate and controlled response to lessen the impact of any environmental risks. For example, during the terror attack in the Tel Aviv Sarona Market in 2016, security coordinators simultaneously alerted the client (a university with students in the area) of the developing situation, while utilizing ground agents with real-time intelligence to find and ensure the safety of every student on the program.
While your security package can be customized from the services discussed below, individually or concurrently with each other, the Ground Support with Safety and Security Coordinators service incorporates all of the following security services into its package and is thus the most recommended for every type of program.
Safety and Security Awareness Briefing
The safety and security awareness briefings are the most basic service that every university should provide prior to sending its students abroad. Customized to the particular destination(s) of each program, these briefings provide students with safety and security awareness essentials that will prepare them for possible incidents. The briefings will teach them how to react when confronted, and how to assess and avoid risky situations in the first place. The briefings can take place prior to travel by a video conference call or can occur upon arrival at the program site.
The expert leading the safety and security awareness briefing will equip students with tools that can ultimately be life-saving. For example, students will learn which types of neighborhoods and transportation to avoid; develop situational awareness tailored to the foreign country they are visiting; learn how to react in emergencies, whether that be crime, a medical emergency (such as an injured friend), a natural disaster (such as a flood or earthquake), or a terror-related attack. Students will also be shown how to interact with the local population while optimizing their own personal safety.
Tactical Intelligence and Information Monitoring
Tactical Intelligence and Information Monitoring services provide groups with a proactive approach to avoiding risk and danger by receiving real-time intelligence and environmental information for relevant areas. This service works for programs with a set itinerary, ensuring travel destinations are being monitored and provides alerts from a local contact in the case of an emergency. It also provides focused regional reporting where programs are taking place country-wide. The program manager, faculty, or university can receive updated reports throughout the day focusing on conditions and changing circumstances that might impact student safety, such as social unrest, labor strikes, or security incidents.
Tactical Intelligence is crucial in dictating and monitoring student safety while abroad. Both students and faculty can utilize the service for project, event, and travel planning, giving them clear advice on road safety conditions and an understanding of environmental challenges, such as high crime areas. By exploring the potential risks beforehand, student groups are able to formulate safer plans and be better attuned to any limitations or restrictions, enabling a safer and more secure approach.
On-Call Security Support
24/7 On-Call security services provide groups with security specialists who are on standby for the duration of the program. If an emergency situation arises, agents can be activated and provide immediate support. These security specialists will be aware of the group’s itinerary and will be located close to the group’s vicinity to ensure prompt action and response, if necessary.
Universities work tirelessly to ensure that students and faculty remain safe and secure wherever they are. However, the demands can be unpredictable and wide-ranging. An On-Call service works as part of your team in ensuring safe travel by giving timely and practical advice, as well as guidance where there is doubt or concern. In the event of a crisis or emergency, security specialists are on hand to respond quickly and effectively to remove your students from harm’s way.
Evacuation and Contingency Plan
For any visit abroad, especially to foreign locations where there might be environmental, security, or safety challenges, a contingency plan is necessary to deal effectively with a situation which may require the group to be transported to a secure location. In addition to providing a 24/7 on-call consulting service, a contingency plan will give clear guidance, enabling the group to respond accordingly to any unfolding event and manage its safe removal from a volatile location. By utilizing the service, universities guarantee prioritization for support where there may be a sudden drain on emergency response resources, ensuring students and faculty are not left unassisted and stranded during a crisis.
While this service is recommended for both short-term and long-term abroad programs, it is essential for semester and year-long abroad programs. In today’s unpredictable environment, well-supported evacuation and contingency planning is crucial for universities sending their students to challenging locations – such as Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines, amongst others known for political instability or natural disasters. We know that student safety is your priority, and supported by such services, you can ensure that in the event of a situation which impacts your visit, your students and faculty have access to seasoned experts to give them the very best levels of service.
Safety in an Unpredictable World
As travel has become easier and cheaper, the world has certainly increased in its unpredictability. The desire of students to travel remains undiminished, and we recognize how important it is for them to visit undiscovered and challenging corners of the globe. These services enable students to travel to these locations around the world by ensuring that they have the correct levels of planning, support, and crisis response necessary to thrive. Every requirement is different, and at MAX we work with our clients to formulate a support package that enables them to get the very best experience out of their visit whilst remaining safe, wherever their destination may be.
For more about travel safety and security, read our 2017 Summer Destinations Risks and Threats report for a breakdown of country specific challenges to be aware of when traveling.
Read more posts like this in our Security Blog.