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National Center for Campus Public Safety

Emerging Issues in Managing International Programs at Institutions of Higher Education

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Many college and university campuses in the US now have global footprints. They both welcome hundreds of thousands of international students every year and also send hundreds of thousands of students, faculty members, and staff all over the world to study, do research, and engage in other activities. Although these programs provide great academic and institutional value to universities, many universities are confronting meaningful risks by operating overseas.

To further explore these challenges, the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS), the Disaster Resilient Universities® (DRU) Network, and the University of Oregon Community Service Center, gathered at the University of Minnesota’s University International Center for a one-day emerging issues focus group about global programs at institutions of higher education (IHEs). Ten global health and safety managers from eight universities convened on October 16, 2015 to review key risk-management and mitigation issues identified in a pre-event survey of DRU® members, prioritize emerging risk issues for higher education, and develop a preliminary set of recommendations to address these issues. On February 11, 2016, fifteen global health and safety managers from seven universities gathered at the University of Oregon for a one-day focus group to review the recommendations and discuss the resources required to implement them.

The focus groups also discussed topics related to faculty management, insurance coverage, mental health, training, and funding. The focus group discussions did not evaluate specific risks at particular institutions, nor did they evaluate policies at specific institutions.

The results of a scoping survey of DRU® Network members, conducted by the University of Oregon, informed the conversations. The survey gathered thoughts about risks, needs, limitations, and processes from dozens of global programs executives at IHEs all over the US. The focus group’s observations and recommendations include a broad array of factors, tactics, and strategies. A series of core principles emerged:

  • IHEs have a variety of resources available for mitigating global programs risks.
  • IHEs must adapt to changing technology and regulation in global programs.
  • IHEs must instill a culture of compliance among faculty, students, and staff in global programs.
  • Mental health is a key component of planning for global programs risks.

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