Study Abroad Risk and Safety Assessment

UC Davis Study Abroad Emergency Response

Study Abroad Risk and Safety Assessment

Student safety and well-being are the top priority for the UC Davis Global Learning Hub. UC Davis partners with the UC Office of the President and a number of independent security, health and intelligence organizations to monitor events around the world to assess the risks to students, faculty and staff abroad. This includes active situations as well as potential or evolving threats.

UC Davis also has standing workgroups which include UC Davis Global Affairs, Risk Management, Legal Counsel, Health and Counseling Services, as well as other subject matter experts. These groups review the context of information provided by security and intelligence organizations to determine appropriate contingencies, assess risk exposure, and ensure resources are available to respond appropriately to a particular threat abroad. This enables campus to proactively monitor events around the world and review potential threats to a program before departure. If a situation develops once a program is abroad, UC can mobilize resources to provide immediate support to students, up to and including relocation or evacuation.

UC Davis Global Affairs Risk and Safety Assessment Committees:

UC Davis students may also participate on UC Systemwide Education Abroad Programs (UCEAP) which undergo a similar high-level risk review and provide the same level of support to students abroad. 

A Partnership in Safety

Travel to any part of the world, including travel within the United States, poses risk of natural disaster, severe weather, criminal activity, disease, loss, or other injury. Indeed, some of these risks remain even when people do not travel at all. 

It is important to understand that safe travel requires travelers to be a partner in risk mitigation and preparation. UC Davis does everything possible to mitigate risk and protect our students, but it is impossible to anticipate or guard against every threat abroad. In some cases, those best equipped to inform or respond to a crisis may be the local emergency organizations, US government agents, and international disaster relief corps abroad. It is important for travelers to be familiar with those services—in addition to what UC Davis can provide—and to consult their resources for guidance.

Some emergencies are not related to global events at all. For an individual, an accident or illness could be a serious emergency as well. Prior to travel it is important for travelers to understand their insurance coverage, how to obtain medical attention, and to understand how their own medical conditions may be affected abroad (pre-existing conditions, availability of prescriptions abroad, etc.). It is also important to maintain a network of emergency contacts who will know, especially on site, when you may be in need of assistance—for example, if you do not show up to a dinner with friends.

With that partnership in mind, the following information details the preparation UC Davis Study Abroad provides for students on our programs.

Student Pre-departure Preparation

All students on UC Davis Study Abroad programs are required to attend a pre-departure orientation on campus as well as an on-site orientation upon arrival in-country.  All students are provided with a Study Abroad Student Handbook, a program-specific guide, and a wallet-sized quick-reference emergency card to carry with them at all times (insurance information, local emergency contacts, etc.).  This combination of materials and in-person orientations provide information on a wide variety issues including:

  • Emergency contacts in country
  • Health insurance information and local medical services
  • Program-specific risk profile (including embedded program activities)
  • Resources for local Consular, emergency, and police organizations
  • Immunization, food safety and other health information

And specialized information for:

  • Discrimination and racism abroad
  • Sexual orientation, gender identity and expression abroad
  • Sexual health and safety abroad
  • Mental health abroad
  • Cultural norms, etiquette and customs that may be uncomfortable or offensive

All students on UC programs abroad are automatically enrolled in UC accident and emergency insurance; students are also registered in “WorldCue” traveler services based on their program location.  WorldCue pushes real-time intelligence and security information directly to students via email or through the phone app.  This information provides students with analysis for local health, transportation, political, or emergency situations.

All students on UC Davis faculty-led study abroad programs are automatically enrolled in GeoBlue international travel health insurance.  In addition to coverage for medical services and prescriptions, GeoBlue provides 24-hour assistance while students are abroad to help them find local doctors, dentists, hospitals, pharmacies, and prescription alternatives.

UC Davis Study Abroad also maintains a 24/7 emergency dispatch service that is available to students abroad and their families back home.  This number can connect callers with on-call UC Davis Study Abroad staff any time of day or night.  Because this number is a partnership with UC Davis Police, we urge callers to reserve it for true emergencies.  Questions about lost luggage, missed flights, phone services, etc. should be directed to the respective airline, airport, phone company, etc.

UC Davis campus dispatch: 1-530-752-1230

Students are free to travel during non-class time while abroad, but they are required to notify their on-site program staff of their travel itinerary.  This helps UC Davis Study Abroad account for the location of all students in the event of an emergency.

Faculty Pre-departure Preparation

Faculty who teach on UC Davis Study Abroad programs are highly equipped to provide support to students in the event of an emergency abroad.  Faculty are required to be on-site with students for the duration of the program.  Many programs also include Onsite Coordinators who join students on excursions and may stay with them in program housing.

All faculty and program support staff are provided with a comprehensive Emergency Handbook which provides appropriate response guidance for a wide variety of group and individual emergencies.  This handbook is also widely disseminated on the Davis campus among those who assist in responding to an emergency abroad.

UC Davis Study Abroad also provides faculty with a wide array of training before leading programs abroad. This training includes:

  • All UC Davis faculty and onsite coordinators are Red Cross CPR and First Aid certified
  • Mental health first aid training
  • Sexual assault/support/advocacy training
  • Training on cultural engagement and culture shock
  • Emergency response protocols
  • Many faculty are originally from the program location or have spent significate time living at the program site and are familiar with local emergency services.

What happens in an emergency?

UC Davis is aware of the location of campus-run UC Davis Study Abroad programs at all times.  When an emergency incident occurs abroad, UC Davis Study Abroad will immediately mobilize resources in coordination with campus and UC staff, local onsite staff and faculty, as well as local authorities and emergency organizations.

In the event of an emergency, UC Davis Study Abroad will trigger an emergency response protocol.  This defines the lines of communication, the scope of support required, the resources needed to assist students abroad, and any coordination with third-party organizations (insurance, travel assistance, evacuation support, etc.)  These include but are not limited to:

  • iJET Integrated Risk Systems
  • Chubb - AXA  Global Travel Assistance
  • GeoBlue International Health Insurance

As soon as a situation is identified, local staff and faculty will confirm the location and wellbeing of all potentially affected students.  If phone service is down, attempts will be made to establish contact via email, social media and direct contact with classmates or emergency contacts.  Once communication is established, students will be provided with instructions and regular updates.

UC is capable of responses that vary from simply disseminating information to managing an immediate evacuation of all students.  However, the actual response will vary on based on circumstances, and will consider students’ immediate safety with the safety of alternative actions.  All of UC Davis Study Abroad responders have extensive experience handling emergency situations abroad.

All students are required to provide emergency contact information as part of their program enrollment process before departure.  In the event of an emergency, UC Davis Study Abroad will direct resources first to responding to the immediate incident, and will then contact students’ emergency contacts with updates.  As with any developing situation, communication may be updated to reflect changes as they occur.

In an emergency, situations can evolve, improve or deteriorate rapidly.  Information provided by media and other organizations may be incomplete, conflicting or based on speculation.  This can be stressful for travelers, their contacts back home, and it can make effective decision-making more complex.  UC Davis Study Abroad keeps student safety at the fore but also evaluates situations from a variety of information sources to avoid needlessly exposing students to unnecessary risks.  For example, transporting a group of students may be more risky than sheltering in an already secure location.  Once an initial action has been taken, emergency responders will continue to evaluate the situation to determine if additional action or resources are necessary.

You can read more about UC and UC Davis’ emergency and safety services programs below:

U.S. Department of State and Consular Resources

The Department of State Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management (ACS) assists Americans whenever and wherever they can. ACS administers the Consular Information Program, which informs the public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security.  ACS operates a 24-hour Duty Officer Program.

For a list of U.S. Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions around the world, refer to the U.S. Department of State or U.S. Embassy websites.

To contact the Department of State in the U.S. call 1-888-407-4747 and 202-501-4444 from outside the U.S. 

All students are urged to register with the Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and information.