Studying abroad is an impactful cultural experience that exposes students to the people, places, customs and cultures of the world; experiences that are often once-in-a-lifetime. As positive as these experiences are, at times of turmoil—like the recent events in Europe and around the world—we know emotions can be heightened. We are aware of the concerns these events create, however, how we choose to react to such events is an individual decision.
Our main objectives in our study abroad programs are not only students’ academic success, but also their continued safety. The Office of Study Abroad is in constant communication with our partners overseas, Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) and the U.S. State Department. At this time, Fairfield University has no plans to suspend any programming abroad.
We want to support our students as they make such an important and personal decision. We invite students to speak with our office should they have any questions or concerns. We will work with students to ensure that their study abroad program fits their academic goals, that the location meets their personal interests and needs, and that they understand our safety procedures and risk management protocols.
For students going abroad, and their parents, please find below important safety information and frequently asked questions:
Emergency Contact information
Where do I find out about travel advisories and current conditions?
Your first point of contact while your student is abroad is Fairfield University’s Office of Study Abroad. During the semester, our office is open Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. During the summer, our office is open Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Our phone number is 203-254-4332. Outside of office hours or during holidays, Public Safety is the point of contact. Public Safety’s phone number is 203-254-4090.
The students’ first point of contact while abroad in case of emergency is the on-site coordinator. Upon arrival, students will receive the coordinator’s contact information. Though your student may reach out to you first, please encourage your student to immediately contact his/her on-site coordinator.
Medical Power of Attorney
Students should consider having a medical power of attorney prior to studying abroad. A medical power of attorney allows a student to assign an individual to speak on their behalf in the event the student is not able to make decisions for themselves. Students should consider connecting with a family lawyer to move forward with this process.
Legal Power of Attorney
Students should consider having a legal power of attorney prior to studying abroad. A legal power of attorney allows a student to assign an individual to make decisions on their behalf while they are abroad, specifically with regards to their finances. Students should consider connecting with a family lawyer to move forward with this process.
The Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides for the confidentiality of student educational records at Fairfield University. Fairfield University may not disclose information in a student’s educational records to anyone without the permission of the student, unless disclosure is permitted by an exception set forth in FERPA, 20 U.S.C.A., Sec. 1232 et seq.
Following approval of your students’ study abroad application, your student will be given the option to complete a FERPA Release Form or to withhold that permission. By completing the form, the student is granting permission to Fairfield University officials to disclose and/or discuss the information authorized by the student on their FERPA Release form. Students are not required to submit a FERPA form; it is the student's discretion to decide whether or not they want to provide Fairfield University with this information.
For students who elect not to complete the FERPA Release Form, Fairfield University and the Office of Study Abroad will be unable to relay certain information to parents or guardians. In cases of emergency abroad, including hospitalization and student status during national emergencies, Federal law does allow Fairfield University and the Office of Study Abroad to release necessary information to parents or guardians.
A sample FERPA form can be found here:
As a reminder, all FERPA forms must be completed by the students online following their approval to study abroad.
Questions regarding FERPA and the procedures followed by Fairfield University to comply with FERPA may be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students. Information about FERPA can be found online at www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco.