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Education Abroad Program works to assure student safety

– Safety abroad may not be top-of-mind for student travelers, but UC keeps a careful eye on the international situation and has support in place for students in a strange land.

To ensure that students are safe, the systemwide Education Abroad Program at UC Santa Barbara, which administers UC study centers in 35 countries, has developed a wide-ranging international network that includes overseas staff, host-university officials, and staff at other study centers abroad. EAP carefully monitors the international situation in consultation with the U.S. State Department. On rare occasions EAP closes a study center, but more frequently, it gives students the option of staying abroad or returning to Berkeley in the face of potential health or safety issues.

"The Israel program was suspended in April 2002," said Jan Kieling, assistant director of the Berkeley Education Abroad Program. "We have no plans to reopen it until it's safer."

Another rare closure was of the Beirut center in 1975, Kieling said. During Tiananmen Square in 1989, the program in Beijing was suspended and students were given the option to leave, "but a lot stayed. They returned to the U.S. when their work was done," she said.

In June 2002, during the Pakistan-India confrontation, the State Department issued a travel warning, Kieling said, so the EAP study centers in those areas were suspended for the rest of the year. Students were transferred to other locations. "Now it's back up and running in India," she said.

She added, "The world is a scarier place now. EAP put into place an evacuation plan that they haven't had to use. There's a phone tree; the kids have the cell phone number of the director, a central place to meet, and an action plan for how to proceed."