UC International ProgramsUniversity of Cincinnati

UC International Programs

Crisis Management

Avoiding and Coping with Crisis: A Guide for Education Abroad Program Directors

This information on this page is meant to help guide you before, during and after a political emergency or natural disaster while directing an education abroad program.

Before you go: Checklist

  • Consult U.S. Dept. of State Travel Advisories to be sure you are aware of potential hazards
  • Register your group on the State Department website. You only have to make one entry with your contact information:  or fax a list of your participants, along with passport numbers to the appropriate consulate, along with your itinerary and contact information abroad.
    Students also can register themselves at this site
  • Inform UC International Programs who (in your Department or elsewhere at UC) will be your point of contact during any emergency.  Agree on what constitutes an emergency: perhaps notifying the contact person of a student’s minor injury will avoid a problem later. Send UC International Programs the list of participants, your itinerary and contact information while abroad, Education Abroad Program Agreement (2 originals: student will keep one)
  • Compile the following information and make copies for your UC contact person, UC International Programs, and to carry with you:
    • Student Emergency Contact information
    • Description of medical conditions; list of prescriptions
    • Passport numbers and expiration dates
    • Flight information
  • Make contingency plans: What is your policy if a student wishes to leave the program early due to fear? What is your refund policy? Conversely, if you can not return on time, who will pay for additional nights of lodging and food?  What will you do if a student has no cash or credit card?
  • Consider how you will contact UC (fax, e-mail, telephone).
  • Make sure students understand that your concern for their safety includes knowing where they travel on weekends and their adherence to the Student Code of Conduct.

On-site plan

  • Provide students and your UC contact person with your telephone number
  • Formulate an emergency plan and make it specific:
    • Identify emergency exits from buildings
    • Identify assembly points
    • Organize a telephone response tree
    • Make sure and your students understand how to use the local telephone system
  • Have students complete a “Weekend Away” form if they travel without the group.
  • Compile emergency telephone numbers for local police, fire, hospital, Embassy, etc. 
  • Consider how you will cope with on-site. Do you have someone to talk with about your worries? About rumors?

During a crisis

  • Try to identify if this is a mild crisis, a severe crisis, or a threat of crisis.
  • Don’t overreact.
  • Contact students to assure they are safe.
  • Contact U.S. Consulate for advice or assistance
  • Buy each student a phone card and instruct them to call their families.
  • Know when to cancel a program. Whose permission do you need?
  • Get in touch with UC International Programs (001-513-556-4278; fax: 556-2990; global@uc.edu; after business hours contact Public Safety 001 513 556 1111), or your UC contact person.  If there is an incident involving serious injury or death, contact Raj Mehta, who will initiate procedures according to the Student Related Critical Incidents Policy (contained in the Faculty Leadership Guide)
  • Keep a log of events and responses

Evacuation

  • Refer to point 3 above regarding who decides to cancel a program and evacuate students.
  • Seek guidance/advice from the Embassy on evacuation decisions.
  • Inform UC International Programs or your UC Contact person regarding the crisis situation and student safety and whereabouts.
  • Establish a central communications contact, coordinating communications with all agencies involved.
  • Identify student responsibilities and provide them with descriptions of specific emergency evacuation conditions and plans; 
  • Communicate specific instructions to students and staff (in writing where appropriate);
  • Coordinate up-country transport of students and their belongings where conditions permit such travel.
  • Ensure lodging and support arrangements at pre-disembarkation points; 
  • Coordinate planning and travel arrangements to safe haven countries with US Embassy;
  • Limit movement of personnel to essential travel associated with an emergency; 
  • Emphasize the importance of staying in familiar territory during an emergency; 
  • Maintain a daily log of actions taken.