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Health and Safety

November 24, 2015

Study Abroad in Europe

BCA monitors very closely world events and all potential threats to student safety. We monitor not only the excellent information coming from the US State Department and its specialist agency OSAC but also what foreign governments are counseling their nationals. As we stated in our previous message, our hearts go out to those who have been the victims of the attacks in Paris and to the French people. While BCA does not have a program in Paris, as an organization we hold the health and safety of our students to be paramount. Immediately, our resident directors across the world checked in on our students to be sure all are safe. In the case of our European programs we made sure no one was traveling on their own to Paris. Since the events in Paris, new developments have led to lock downs in Brussels and in Mali. Yesterday, the US State Department issued a Worldwide Travel Alert. The statement notes the need for vigilance and care but does not recommend discontinuing all travel. In this regard, it is a continuation of State Department statements that have been issued periodically since September 2001.

BCA safety protocols were immediately invoked as soon as the French and Belgian events took place. All students are safe and sound. Our resident directors on site did splendid work,  closely communicating with local authorities, our host universities, host families, the BCA central office, and of course our students. They continue to monitor the situation and remain available to any students with questions or concerns.

While no specific action has been recommended by the US State Department, BCA is urging our students in the strongest terms not to travel to France for the duration of the National State of Emergency scheduled to expire in January 2016 and for those studying in Brussels to take private taxis rather than public transportation for the duration of the lock down this week.

Among other measures for the safety of our students BCA does the following:

  • All students on BCA programs are registered with the State Department and the US embassy in the country they study in. They receive immediate warnings and advice if incidents occur.
  • All BCA students are enrolled with On Call International which can arrange emergency evacuation if needed and which also advises on developing threatening situations. It also assists in cases of medical emergency, natural disasters etc.
  • All BCA students receive pre-departure orientation that includes safety tips for all situations they could encounter.
  • All BCA students receive on-site orientation that includes further reinforcement and development of such tips.
  • All students are required to inform the resident director of any independent travel, their itinerary and where they will be on a given day.
  • All BCA students are served by experienced and capable resident directors who are the first call if there is any issue needing to be dealt with and who contact each student if an incident occurs.
  • If an incident occurs resident directors are in constant contact with BCA’s central office team to develop and implement response actions according to well-developed protocols and years of experience.

BCA continues to run its programs in all our program sites around the world. We continue to monitor the well-being of our students and to offer the best, most immersive experience we can.

BCA Statement on Study Abroad in Europe

Our hearts go out to those who have been the victims of the attacks in Paris last Friday and to the French people.

While BCA does not have a program in Paris, as an organization we hold the health and safety of our students to be paramount. Immediately, our resident directors across the world checked in on our students to be sure all are safe. In the case of our European programs we made sure no one was traveling on their own to Paris. All are safe and sound.

BCA monitors very closely world events and all potential threats to student safety. We monitor not only the excellent information coming from the US State Department and its specialist agency OSAC but also what foreign governments are counseling their nationals. Currently, no travel warnings have been issued. However, BCA is urging our students in the strongest terms not to travel to France for the duration of the National State of Emergency, the end of January 2016.

About BCA’s Health and Safety

BCA Study Abroad knows that you may be concerned about your son or daughter’s safety while abroad.  Please rest assured that BCA carefully considers the safety of the locations where we send students.  We take precautions to ensure the security and well-being of students while studying abroad and also stay informed about events in each of the countries where we have study centers. BCA draws from extensive experience to continually improve its programs and make them safe for studying and exploring.

The following are some of the ways that BCA Study Abroad works to maximize the safety of all study abroad program participants.

Site Orientation

Upon arrival students have an on-site orientation during which they are provided with an introduction to daily life at their specific site, which includes information on dining, public transportation, academic expectations, independent traveling and surrounding attractions. The orientation sessions also emphasize what precautions to take on site and the importance of good decision-making when it comes to personal safety.

Health, Safety, and Emergency Management Plans

BCA stays informed about the Department of States’ recommendations for U.S. citizen safety abroad, particularly in the regions where BCA operates study centers.  Should a situation deteriorate, BCA staff will work with the host university on any necessary actions to ensure student safety.

Travel Risk Management Program

We provide all semester and year students with membership in On Call International, the premier choice in international medical assistance and security services to ensure our students have access to immediate high quality support in the event of a medical or security emergency. More information about this program is available on the On Call Travel Risk Management Program  page of our website.

Health Insurance

It is important to note that On Call International is not health insurance. This assistance program is provided to your child by BCA to assist with a variety of difficulties that could arise while they are abroad and to supplement their international health insurance.  BCA continues to require all students attending our programs maintain health insurance coverage and to make certain that their policies cover them while abroad.  On Call, on a best effort basis, will attempt to coordinate medical expense coverage and guarantees with their medical insurance carrier(s).  We are happy to provide names of companies that offer reasonably priced coverage for study abroad students.

Network of Contacts

BCA operates more than a dozen student programs worldwide.  Students can download an On Call International card, a 24-hour emergency contact service that will assist students wherever they are, from their BCA online account after they have been accepted into a program.

Awareness of Surroundings

BCA stays in contact with host university officials, local police and civil authorities in their respective countries.  BCA staff abroad and our host university contacts are sensitive to student concerns and will meet with students who may be concerned about a situation.

Integration in the Local Culture

Since BCA believes in integrating students into the local culture, we keep a low profile and give students advice on ways to blend in before becoming fully acclimated to their new settings. We encourage students to develop an understanding of the culture so that they gradually become accustomed to daily life at their location. All BCA study centers are located on local university campuses.  Most BCA students live with local residents, in homestays or in dormitories and apartments with local students.

Other Concerns:

Returning Early From a Study Abroad Site

Whenever a student decides to return home prior to the end of a semester, the U.S. home campus will have to determine how much credit to accept, if any.  The same would hold true if a student has to return home because a program is canceled.  BCA is prepared to work with the home campus in assisting the student in completing coursework for as much credit as possible.

We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. The BCA toll free telephone number is 1-866-222-6188 and you may also contact Dr. Stephen Burwood, Chief Academic Officer and Director of Programs, who will assist you with all BCA health and safety issues. He can be emailed at SBurwood@BCAStudyAbroad.org or called at 717-361-6601.

We hope that we have provided you with information to satisfy all your concerns as a parent and look forward to helping you and your child in the application process and beyond. Thank you.