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Safety and Security Council

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Study Abroad Safety and Security Council

The University of Oklahoma Study Abroad Safety and Security Council consists of representatives from Student Affairs, Legal Counsel, Risk Management, OU Health Services, the Office of the Provost and the College of International Studies.  The Safety and Security Council can also include faculty representatives with relevant regional and country-level expertise.

The purpose of the Study Abroad Safety and Security Council is to:

  • Implement emergency response protocol in the event of an international crisis impacting OU students on approved study abroad programs
  • Develop university-wide policies and procedures concerning health, safety and risk management applicable to all credit-bearing study abroad programs
  • Review petitions for study abroad programming in countries otherwise closed due to a US Department of State Travel Warning

Study Abroad in Countries under a US Department of State Travel Warning

Travel Warnings are issued by the US Department of State when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.  Click here for a current list of countries under a US Department of State Travel Warning.

The University of Oklahoma automatically suspends study abroad programs to these countries unless the Study Abroad Safety and Security Council has approved a program suspension waiver. Waivers apply to one program only, unless otherwise specified by the Council. A waiver for one program in a country does not automatically apply to another program in that same country. A Travel Warning waiver lasts for two years from the time of issue. If during the two-year waiver period there are significant changes to the program's itinerary, a new waiver request must also be made.

If a Travel Warning is issued when a study abroad program is underway or less than 30 days prior to the start date of a program where a petition to conduct programming has not been approved, the Council may immediately suspend the program.

Petition Process to Study Abroad when Travel Warning Exists

A waiver request should be made in writing to the Director of Education Abroad at least 60 days prior to the start date of the proposed program.

Once the Director of Education Abroad has received a waiver request, the Safety and Security Council will convene to consider the petition at the earliest date available to a majority of Council members.  The Council will then formulate a ruling and communicate this to the individual who submitted the waiver request.

The petitioner should include the following as part of the waiver request:

  • Statement addressing the security environment in the areas where the study abroad program will take place and how relevant dangers or concerns mentioned in the Travel Warning will be taken into account by the program infrastructure and expertise of the faculty leader and/or on-site program staff
  • Agenda/program information (intended dates, expected itinerary, etc.)
  • Documentation of study abroad programming run by peer institutions of higher education in the country
  • Documentation of whether or not the US government conducts programming in the country (for example, the Peace Corps)
  • Rationale for the necessity and feasibility of programming to the specific destination

Should a petition be denied by the Safety and Security Council the program would not be eligible for OU credit or assistance.

Requirements of Program Participants

If the Safety and Security Council approves a petition and grants a waiver for a study abroad program scheduled to take place in a country under a Travel Warning, participants are required to take the following steps:

  • Complete a participant waiver and return this to Education Abroad before departure
  • Comply with Education Abroad terms and conditions concerning participation in a study abroad program to a county under a US Department of State Travel Warning. These terms and conditions may restrict travel in areas of the country or region deemed inappropriate for student travel.  Any violation of associated terms and conditions communicated to participants by Education Abroad or designated program faculty or staff may result in disciplinary charges, fine or fees, or dismissal from the program.
  • Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, otherwise known as "registering with the State Department"
  • Register any approved side trips outside of your primary location using the online travel registration system provided by Education Abroad.