Government: There is a good amount of public debate about whether the United States Department of State rules for foreign exchange students within America are adequate, enforced or funded. (Similar concerns with the Clery Act.)
Similar rules, minimum standards, for American students on travel abroad, cultural exchange and study abroad do not exist.
No federal guidelines or minimum standards of practice exist in the youth travel, foreign exchange, volunteer and study abroad industry as a whole. Without standards and compliance there is a vast array of good, bad and ugly experiences. The Clery Act is one federal law requiring secondary education to report campus security policy and crime statistics, although it is also poorly enforced. A few government stakeholders are:
- Department of State
- Department of Education
- Department of Health & Human Services
- Center for Disease Control
- Department of Justice
- Federal Trade Commission
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- (Foreign Parliaments, Embassies & Bureaus)
Agencies: A number of organizations have formed to collaborate on youth travel, foreign exchange and study abroad programs. Each agency has their own set of ethics and conduct, and some declare standards for safety. Unless the standards are mandated and enforced, the standards are guidelines or policies. It’s hard for an agency to enforce standards if their revenue and board of directors are funded and comprised of the industry it governs. Most do not have a whistleblower policy. ClearCause is unable to find one player who has ever sanctioned one of its members for placing a student abroad in harm’s way.
Starting in winter 2012, University of Iowa students will no longer be granted any credits for courses completed at the National Outdoor Leadership School, based in Wyoming. In August, 2012, the UI Office of Study Abroad decided to closely investigate the courses offered by the school, almost a year after UI student Tom Plotkin lost his life during a school course in India. The UI will not grant credits for courses completed at the school during its yearlong evaluation of the program. Officials at the UI will then evaluate all other third-party programs. Third-party programs provide study-abroad experience, while working with a university that handles granting credit for students who complete the program being offered. The outdoor leadership school goes through the University of Utah to grant credits to its students from the UI. Downing Thomas, the dean of UI International Programs, said the Daily Iowan investigation into Plotkin’s death helped shed light on the issue.
The US Department of State began sanctioning poor providers of foreign students in America in 2010, several have been sanctioned since. Please read this CNN article: “Exchange Students Live American Nightmare”; and Guestworker Alliance’s article: State Department heeds NGA Call to Bar J-1 Recruiter. Similar protections for U.S. students abroad are non-existent.
A few notable student travel and study abroad industry organizations include:
- CSIET – Council on Standards for International Educational Travel
- FEA – The Forum on Education Abroad (Secondary Education)
- NAFSA – Association of International Educators (Study Abroad Teachers)
- SYTA – Student Youth & Travel Association
- UNIY – United Nations International Youth
- WYSTC – World Youth Student & Educations Travel Confederation
Vendors: Global health and emergency insurance companies, hotels, airlines, cruises, restaurants, technology companies and others all serve and benefit from students who travel, exchange and study abroad. A few are:
JP Morgan & Chase; International SOS; Delta Airlines; American Express; HTH Worldwide; United Airlines; Bank of America; International Student Insurance; American Airlines; CitiGroup; American Red Cross; US Airways; US Bank; Wilderness 1st Responder; Continental; Wells Fargo; Emergency Medical Training; Lufthansa Airlines; Hyatt; McDonald’s; Canon; Marriott; Starbuck’s; Minolta; Best Western; Domino’s; Apple; Holiday Inn; Burger King; Microsoft; Ramada; Subway; AT&T
Consumers: Are the youth and students who travel, exchange and study abroad and the parents and guardians who offer financial support. Key influencers could be:
- Student Body Governments
- Parent Teacher Organizations
- Public Schools, Colleges and Universities
Influencers: Are providers who have an indirect interest in the health and safety of youth and students abroad:
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- Diabetes Advocates
- Allergies & Asthma Network
- Children with Disability