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New Data Reports Safety of Minnesota Study Abroad Programs



Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

Students who studied abroad last year through a Minnesota college or university program were relatively safe and healthy, according to new data compiled by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE).

During the 2014-2015 school year, 10,000 students participated in Minnesota Study Abroad programs; fewer than one percent of student participants experienced a hospitalization resulting from program participation, and there were no deaths.

"One of the questions a parent or student has when considering a Study Abroad program is, "how safe is it?" said Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of OHE. "While even one illness or injury is one too many, this new data offers some assurance that schools are taking their responsibility to students seriously."

Calls for tighter oversight of Study Abroad programs were led by the Minnesota-based Clear Cause Foundation, following the death of the founders' son in 2007 while studying in Japan. The legislation signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2014 was co-authored by Senator Terri Bonoff and Rep. Yvonne Selcer, and passed with bipartisan support. Its aim is to strengthen student safety by asking Minnesota colleges and universities with Study Abroad programs to report annually on:

  • Deaths, accidents and illnesses of students as a result of and during program participation
  • Country, primary program host and program type of each incident
  • Whether the program complied with health and safety standards set by the nationally recognized Forum on Education Abroad or a similar standard

In addition to the mandated incident reporting, institutions voluntarily contributed participation data, providing students and parents with a relative measure of risk and interesting data about where students study abroad.

The Study Abroad Health and Safety Data report is the first of its kind in the nation and will be updated annually. The report only includes incidents that happen during and as a result of Study Abroad program participation.

The Postsecondary Study Abroad Health and Safety Data report can be found at

To help students prepare for studying abroad, OHE also created a Study Abroad Health and Safety Resources for Students and Families site. The information includes links to sites such as the US State Department's Student Abroad website, which offers travel tools and tips, the Center for Global Education's Students Abroad website's in-depth advice on many health-related aspects of studying abroad, and the University of Minnesota's Learning Abroad Center, which provides helpful information on packing and flying. The resources page can be found at

For more information on the Study Abroad data report, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902, or by email at

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