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How GEO monitors and assesses security conditions in and around our study away sites

The safety and security of Duke students studying abroad is the first priority for Duke University and the Global Education Office for Undergraduates (GEO). Thus, using information and analysis from sources including the U.S. Department of State, Duke’s international security and evacuation partner, International SOS, our on-site program contacts, and various domestic and international news agencies, we are constantly monitoring and assessing the security conditions in and around our study abroad sites.

What are general safety measures my student should take abroad?

Generally, we recommend that students avoid crowds (including protests and rallies), avoid moving about the city as large conspicuous groups of Americans, and avoid areas where Americans tend to congregate. We recommend that if students are away overnight, they leave their itineraries with their homestay families and their program administrators. Some locations abroad may have specific area restrictions in place, or recommended, for safety reasons.

To stay informed of the latest alerts and cautions, students are encouraged to register their stay abroad with the U.S. Department of State via the STEP program, sign up for alerts from International SOS, monitor local and international news, and stay in frequent contact with their host program directors/administrators.

What has Duke University done to address security and safety concerns abroad?

When an event occurs that threatens the safety or security of our students abroad, the university will hold appropriate meetings at various administrative levels to discuss the situation and to quickly develop a plan of action along established protocols. As part of this process, we will solicit updates on the students' welfare from the students and on-site program administrators, making sure that they have access to the various resources and forms of support that can be helpful in such situations.

We have asked program administrators of each of our Duke-administered programs to develop contingency plans for emergency situations that may occur in their program locations. We have also asked that they facilitate the registration of our students with the local U.S. embassy or consulate, and that they encourage students to follow recommended local safety guidelines.

Will Duke University cancel any programs?

The decision to suspend or cancel a program is not one that university officials take lightly. A decision to suspend or cancel a program abroad would be informed by conversations among various parties, which may include: The Duke program administrators in-country; officials at the partner institutions; U.S. Embassy officials in-country; other officials from U.S. agencies and/or NGOs; the appropriate U.S. State Department country Desk Officer(s); private-sector international security experts, and other relevant Duke University offices. These conversations will be taken into account along with GEO's own careful assessment of events.

Such events may include the following (not in rank order): Declaration of war by the U.S. against the country in which a program is located, or an adjacent neighboring country; declaration of war by a third country against the country in which a program is located; significant terrorist activity in a program’s city and/or country; protracted or indefinite closure of the host institution(s); inability of the local Duke staff to organize and carry out an academic program outside of the host institution(s); disruption of public utilities and/or services; wide-spread civil unrest, violence and/or rioting; a declaration of martial law in a program’s city and/or country; recommendation of suspension/cancelation by a program’s staff in-country; and/or travel warning and/or specific directive by the U.S. Department of State.

What happens if the university should cancel a study abroad program?

In the event that local or world conditions should force the university to suspend or cancel a specific study abroad program, thereby causing no academic credit to be awarded, full tuition refunds will be made. In the case of additional program fees, Duke will only be able to refund uncommitted and recoverable funds.

If Duke terminates a program early, but makes arrangements for students to earn full or partial credit, the tuition refund amount would reflect these circumstances. Whether or not credit is awarded would depend on the particular program and when the suspension or cancelation takes place, among other factors.

Students studying away on Duke-approved programs, sponsored by another institution, are subject to the cancellation and refund policies, if any, of the respective institution.

Can I bring my student home mid-semester or mid-session if current events make me nervous? What are the academic and financial consequences of withdrawal?

In consultation with their parents/guardians, Duke University students studying abroad always have certain options available to them. GEO directors are always happy to discuss these options with them, which may include the following:

a. Voluntary withdrawal from the study abroad program and return to the Duke campus before the drop/add period at Duke has ended. Refunds will be made according to the refund policy as stated in the Participation Agreement signed by each student and parent/guardian, as well as, in the case of students studying abroad on non-Duke programs, the refund policy of their host program. To begin the process, students must submit a withdrawal form to the GEO.

b. Voluntary withdrawal from the study abroad program and return to the U.S., to return to campus at a subsequent term. Each student must submit a withdrawal form to the GEO and secure permission for personal leave for the current semester from his/her academic dean. Refunds will be made according to the refund policy as stated in the Participation Agreement signed by each student and parent/guardian, as well as, in the case of students studying abroad on non-Duke programs, the refund policy of their host program.

In both cases, students MUST submit a withdrawal form to the GEO for permission to withdraw and give written notice to BOTH the GEO and the host institution/program of their intention to withdraw, as well as their departure details. In all cases, students will be responsible for all non-recoverable costs associated with their enrollment in the program. Students should refer to their signed Participation Agreement for more details.

Academic Consequences of Withdrawal:

Students must complete the academic program requirements of the Duke program and/or foreign host institution in order to receive credit for study abroad courses. If students withdraw prior to completing course work, it is unlikely that they will be eligible to receive credit from foreign institutions, even if part of a Duke program. If a student withdraws in time to return to the Duke campus for the semester (that is, by the end of the semester's drop/add period), he/she may enroll in courses back at Duke on a space available basis.

Financial Consequences of Withdrawal:

Financial consequences of a voluntary withdrawal are subject to the refund policy outlined in the Participation Agreement, which is signed by the student participant and his/her parent or legal guardian. Any deposit made for a Duke-administered program is non-refundable. In the case of withdrawal from a semester or academic year Duke-administered program, any remaining paid tuition will be refunded as follows, in accordance with the refund policy referenced in the Participation Agreement: Before start of program - full refund minus the deposit; during the first or second week - 80 percent; during the third, fourth, or fifth week - 60 percent; during the sixth week - 20 percent; after the sixth week - none. For Duke-administered summer programs, if the student withdraws from the program for any reason after the cancelation deadline set by GEO, but before the program begins, there will be a withdrawal fee of $1,500 for a one-course program and $2,000 for a two-course program. If withdrawal takes place after the program begins, all tuition and fees are retained by Duke.

Are the policies the same if my student is studying with a non-Duke program?

Duke students studying on non-Duke programs are subject to the withdrawal, cancelation, and refund policies of their programs or host institutions. The logistics and timing of a student’s return to the Duke campus would be dependent on the applicable Duke academic regulations and conversations with Trinity College or Pratt School of Engineering deans and other university administrators.

Where can I get more information about world events that may directly affect study abroad through Duke?

Besides major media outlets, we recommend that parents/guardians and study abroad participants acquaint themselves with the following resources:

The U.S. Department of State website for travel warnings and alerts: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

The U.S. Department of State website for country-specific information: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html

Duke University’s International Travel Policy: https://global.duke.edu/admin/travelpolicy/index.php

International SOS country-specific information and risk reports: https://global.duke.edu/admin/health_safety/assistance.php


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