The purpose of this document is to provide an update concerning University at Albany's emergency preparedness and crisis response plans.
This document describes the efforts made by the University at Albany to help participants enhance their safety and to help them respond to emergency situations. Nothing in this document is a guarantee that any specific action will be taken in any given situation, nor is anything in this document a contract or part of a contract between the University at Albany and any other party, nor is any statement in this document intended to sell a service to a prospective customer, nor to attempt to persuade any party to avail themselves of any program or service provided by the University at Albany. Health, safety, and recovery from emergency situations are the sole responsibilities of each individual participant.
Contacting the Office of International Education
During Business Hours:
Post Acceptance Materials
Staying safe begins with knowledge. The written materials provided to participants contain the fundamental information needed to preserve one’s safety and to be prepared for an emergency. It is a condition of participation that students read and understand the materials provided by both the University at Albany and Host University.
Information Required of Participants
It is a requirement of participation in a program sponsored by the Office of International Education that participants provide emergency contact information, program site address and contact information as soon as they know it, passport information, flight information, information on participant's physical health, and information on health insurance.
Orientation for Participants
Every University at Albany overseas program begins with a comprehensive orientation to the country, city, university, and the program, which includes, among other information, an explanation of any local risks that the have been identified and tips for enhancing personal safety. This orientation may be in Albany before departure, upon arrival at the site, or both.
On-Site Care and Insurance
Program Officers, Resident Directors, and host university staff maintain lists of recommended health and mental health providers. Participants are advised to contact their RD or host university official whenever they need assistance and whenever possible before seeking medical attention. The University at Albany mandates health insurance and emergency assistance coverage for every participant. In most cases students are required to have the SUNY approved insurance policy unless the host site provides alternate insurance or the student has received a waiver of the required SUNY policy. All participants in our programs also have MEDEX Assist emergency assistance, evacuation, and repatriation insurance.
Monitoring and Risk Assessment
Program Officers and Resident Directors make every reasonable effort to keep abreast of local conditions and changes in local health and safety risks and to inform participants of these changes.
All decisions regarding program operations are made with reference to data from a number of sources. In addition to the consular information sheets and advisory messages posted by the U.S. Department of State (www.travel.state.gov ), our Program Officers, Resident Directors, and partner institution staff use information gathered locally through conversations with our partner institutions and other providers in the city or country. In making individual decisions concerning participation, we suggest that participants and their parents carefully review the State Department Travel Advisories at the web page listed above.
If at any time the Program Officer or Resident Director feels that there is a need for extra caution the Director of Study Abroad and Exchanges will be consulted and a plan of action agreed to. A summary of this plan is relayed to the Crisis Response and Emergency Team for review and consultation.
After Hours Readiness
Program Officers have critical data regarding participants, insurance providers, flight data, worldwide contact information, and other safety and crisis resources at their homes.
In the event that the Office of International Education is unable to open or communicate, the Office of International Education establishes alternative communication routes as soon as possible and announces these to sending schools and, to the extent possible, to participants’ emergency contacts, to SECUSSA-L, the major industry list serve.
In the Event of a Local Emergency
- The Program Officer at the University at Albany consults with the on-site Resident Director or Overseas Program Contact as soon as possible after learning of the emergency.
- The Resident Director or Overseas Program Contact contacts participants as soon as possible to ascertain participants’ well being, and to provide information, instructions, and advice and then reports to the Program Director at the University at Albany.
- Participants are advised to contact their parents, guardians, or emergency contacts as soon as possible.
- The Resident Director or Overseas Program Contact may, if warranted, gather the participants together in a group in a safe location. In most cases participants will be advised to confine themselves to their host campus, or residence until the crisis is resolved.
- The Program Officer informs the Director of Study Abroad and Exchanges who then informs the Crisis Response and Emergency Team of the situation, the steps taken, and any steps deemed necessary. The Crisis Response and Emergency Team may provide feedback, may decide to meet to discuss the situation, or may simply request further updates depending on the situation.
- The Program Officer or Resident Director contacts the local U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or Interest Section, and also confers with other study abroad providers and/or U.S. enterprises in the area.
- Each Resident Director advises the University at Albany Office of International Education or Program Officer consults with the Overseas Program Contact about what action should be taken, if any, and about modifying or suspending the program. The Crisis Response and Emergency Team makes any decision on continuation or suspension of a program after due deliberation.
- Evacuation of students from a site is only undertaken under the most extreme circumstances when there is an imminent, direct threat to participants and the only way to assure safety is to leave the program site. Even if it is determined that evacuation is warranted, it is not always possible to evacuate immediately, and in most cases immediate evacuation is not the safest course of action. Immediate evacuation from a site is not only often impossible, but may not be the wisest or safest choice. Experience has shown that when a crisis ensued that was severe enough to consider evacuation, the safest thing to do was to confine participants to their residences and the most dangerous course of action was to try to leave the site. By the time the crisis had calmed enough for it to be possible to consider leaving it was no longer necessary to evacuate.
- In the event that the State Department advises U.S. citizens to leave a site or in our opinion evacuation is warranted we will work with participants to arrange safe passage out of the site as soon as possible. The cost of evacuation remains with the participant, but the University at Albany will assist with arrangements and may lend funds as needed.
- The University at Albany reports to participants’ emergency contacts within 48 hours or soon as possible if the participants can not do so themselves.
- The University at Albany Office of International Education reports to sending schools within 72 hours.
In the event of a major crisis affecting multiple locations, the University at Albany will in addition to the above:
- Send an email message to SECUSSA-L, the major industry list serve.
- Post a message on our web site www.albany.edu/studyabroad
- Attempt to send email messages to all participants’ emergency contacts within 72 hours of the event.