By Jason Hope - University of Kentucky News
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 28, 2019) — University of Kentucky administrators had an opportunity this past summer to see firsthand the efforts made to provide healthy and safe Education Abroad experiences for UK students. The UK International Center and Education Abroad (EA) partner International Studies Abroad (ISA) co-hosted a site visit this summer to introduce a group of administrators to the health and safety aspects of international education.
Representatives from UK's Office of Legal Counsel, Risk Management, Public Relations and Strategic Communications, Dean of Students office, Counseling Center and UK Police Department spent a week in Spain visiting various EA programs and learning about the support systems in place for UK students studying abroad.
“UK places the highest priority on student safety in our international programs,” said Jason Hope, UK’s director of International Health, Safety and Security. “The people that we traveled with this summer are critical stakeholders in responding to emergencies abroad. I’m confident that helping them better understand the environment is only going to make UK more effective in supporting our students. When it comes to understanding an international context, there’s really no substitute to being there.”
The group met with several academic partners, including Barcelona Study Abroad Experience (a group that facilitates internships in a variety of fields for UK students) and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (one of UK’s exchange partners), in addition to visiting several of ISA’s sites.
“Before the trip, I did not appreciate the differences between the many different program types that UK offers overseas," said Cliff Iler, deputy general counsel. "I am already viewing my work with the International Center differently.”
They also met with Rosie Lanphere, a faculty member from the UK College of Education's Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, who was teaching a course on exercise physiology to UK students in Valencia. The group spoke with her students about their experiences. Nick Kehrwald, UK dean of students, said this was one of the highlights of the trip for him.
“The trip reaffirmed the value of EA as a high-impact experience for me and reminded me how important it is to have a global perspective,” he said. “Learning about these programs through the lens of student wellness and safety was especially interesting.”
“Each of our international partners offers slightly different levels of student support,” said Miko McFarland, executive director of Education Abroad & Exchanges. “Some provide comprehensive student services, and others require much more independence from students — it’s all very dependent on the nature of the organization and the cultural context. But seeing the breadth of program types in person helps us understand how UK can best support students depending on the experience they’ve chosen.”
In addition to visiting academic partners, the group had a chance to visit the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, where they met with the regional security officer and other embassy staff to discuss the ways the Department of State supports U.S. travelers abroad.