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Health & Safety Abroad

The UK International Center (UKIC) prioritizes the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community members. Studying and traveling abroad requires much of the same health and safety precautions that one would take in the US. However, participants need to be aware of additional risks that may be unique to traveling abroad and living in a particular country or region.

In addition to providing pre-departure orientation workshops and materials for all UK Sponsored program directors and participants, UK Education Abroad monitors international security through a variety of channels. In the event of an emergency, UK Education Abroad can identify the location of all program participants and will initiate communication with the necessary parties immediately and take action as the situation warrants. All UK Sponsored program participants will be enrolled in travel medical insurance and emergency evacuation coverage for the duration of their time abroad.

UK Education Abroad will supply all UK Sponsored program directors with a flash drive that contains relevant and necessary health and safety information including, but not limited to, participant insurance cards, location specific information, emergency contact information, documentation forms, and the pre-departure handbook. Additionally, all UK Sponsored participants and directors will receive a tri-fold wallet sized card containing pertinent contact information for UK, insurance providers, the U.S. State Department, etc. The card contains space to include additional information for local authorities and resources. It is recommended that this card be carried by all participants at all times.

Health and safety topics will be discussed at length with all UK Sponsored program directors and students during required orientation workshops and the optional Faculty Workshop Series.  

Required Travel Medical Insurance & Evacuation Coverage

A full summary of benefits under UK's International Insurance Plan can be found at this link.

Participants in any University-approved or sponsored international education travel experience, whether credit-bearing or non-credit-bearing, are required to purchase Travel Medical Insurance through UK Education Abroad. While UK Education Abroad may grant exceptions in cases when indiveduals have existing coverage that meets the minimum standards of the University or are participating in external programs that offer uniform coverage that meets the minimum standards of the University, NO EXCEPTIONS are granted to participants of international group travel experiences.
Information for Participants Departing ON or AFTER August 1, 2015:
AXA Assistance
UK Education Abroad travel medical insurance for participants departing on or after August 1, 2015 is provided by AXA Assistance.

Travel medical insurance/evacuation coverage is purchased on behalf of each participant by UK Education Abroad for the duration of the international program. The cost of TMI and emergency evacuation coverage is included in the UK Sponsored advertised program fee that is billed to participants via UK billing services. If a non-UK student (i.e. director’s family member, a staff or faculty colleague, or a community member) enrolls in a UK Sponsored program, TMI and emergency evacuation coverage will be purchased and billed to that individual separately and payment must be made to University of Kentucky Education Abroad. The cost of enrollment is $10.50/week (billed in weekly increments to the participant's student account). Cost is subject to change on policy renewals in August of each year.

Participants will have coverage for the duration of their international program, and for a total of 14 days immediately adjacent to their program dates, in the event that they wish to travel before or after their program. Participants who wish to have coverage beyond this 14 day window are strongly encouraged to purchase an independent international travel medical insurance and evacuation policy for any additional time abroad.
The coverage allows for:

  • $200,000 Benefit for Injury or Sickness
  • $50,000 Benefit for Medical Evacuations
  • $20,000 Benefit for Repatriation of Remains
  • $7,500 Benefit for Accidental Death and Dismemberment
  • Evacuation benefits in case of political/natural disaster
  • Trip Cancellation insurance
  • Trip Interruption insurance

To access insurance benefits from overseas, participants should call AXA Assistance's direct number, at 1-312-935-3542. Their line is staffed at all times. Resources may also be accessed by e-mailing Before departure, participants should carefully review this document, which outlines the information that should be prepared before calling.

In the event of an emergency when participants are unable to contact AXA Assistance before seeking treatment, the Medical Claim Form should be used to file claims for reimbursement with the insurance company. To file a claim under the University's trip cancellation or interruption benefit, a different form should be submitted. Step by step instructions on the claims filing process can be found in this document.

Political Security and Natural Disaster Evacuation Services
In the event of a natural or political disaster in the host country, all participants covered by UK's insurance are eligible for evacuation service. The evacuation service will coordinate and pay to evacuate covered travelers to the nearest place of safety, or to the U.S. in the case of a covered event. If the faculty member/advisor has a security concern or requires evacuation, that person should seek shelter as soon as possible and call AXA Assistance at 1-312-935-3542. Then, the faculty member/advisor should call the UK Police Department at 1-859-257-8573. The UK Police Department will relay the information to the appropriate authorities on campus.

Travel to countries under US Department of State Travel Warnings

Per Administrative Regulation AR 4:9, the University does not sponsor or approve international travel for educational purposes in a country for which a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning is in effect.

However, with respect to UK Sponsored, faculty-directed education abroad programs, and understanding that UK is a research institution with a diverse student population and broad research interests, the University will consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis if a faculty or staff member can present a compelling case that an alternative destination would not equally allow the successful realization of course learning objectives or programs goals. Any exceptions granted to the policy should not be construed as a recommendation or an endorsement to travel or study in a country for which a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning is in effect. No student shall be required as part of one's degree to study in any destination where a Travel Warning is in effect. Under no circumstance will educational travel be authorized to countries where a mandatory evacuation order has been issued. Information regarding appeal to the University of Kentucky Travel Warning policy may be found here.

The University does not restrict international travel for education purposes in a country for which a U.S. Department of State Travel Alert is in effect. However, faculty and staff proposing education abroad programs in countries with a Travel Alert should be prudent in deciding whether or not a Travel Alert may escalate into a Travel Warning before or during the educational travel. 

Compliance with Federal Regulations: Clery Act Reporting

In accordance with the UK Office of Legal Counsel's interpretation of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Michael Minger Act, UK Sponsored Program Directors are considered Campus Security Authorities during their education abroad programs. The director(s) of each credit-bearing and non-credit bearing program abroad is required to complete Campus Security Authority (CSA) training before the program's departure date. UK Crisis Management & Preparedness Division has made the training available via myUK in the “Employee Self Service” training section.

The CSA training must be completed by EVERY program director EVERY time a UK Sponsored program is offered. CSA training must be renewed every calendar year. Any faculty, staff, or graduate student responsible for teaching and/or making decisions on behalf of program participants is considered a program director. Accompanying faculty, staff or graduate student colleagues without teaching or decision making responsibilities is not required to complete the CSA training.  

Questions regarding training should be directed to UK Crisis Management at or (859) 257-9567.

Health & Safety Preparedness

UK Education Abroad expects all education abroad program participants to take responsibility for their own safety, security, and well-being. For students, this is highlighted during pre-departure preparations, meetings with advisors, and on the EA website. In addition to each participant’s own personal responsibility, as the primary University of Kentucky responsible agent, UK Sponsored faculty and staff program directors also play a significant role in ensuring the safety, security and well-being of all participants.

UK expects all participants to take the same precautions anyone would follow in their home communities in the United States and to make smart decisions at all times. Participants are encouraged to use common sense, be alert and aware of their surrounding at all times, travel with a buddy, and never to put themselves in compromising positions through the use of drugs or alcohol. That being said, participating in programs abroad may come with additional risks that students and program directors do not typically face at home.  

UK Education Abroad advises program directors to prepare for potential emergencies with the following steps:

  1. Acquaint yourself thoroughly with region-specific health and safety concerns. Investigate country-specific information maintained by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
  2. Prepare yourself and your program participants for a safe program, both emotionally and physically, by urging participants to consult with all of their health care providers prior to departure.
  3. Register on the Mercer Campus Travel Assistance portal with the username: "" and password: "mercer" to obtain the appropriate local healthcare facility addresses and phone numbers.
  4. Complete online Campus Security Authority (CSA) training as required by the Jeanne Clery Act and provided by UK Crisis Management & Preparedness via myUK.
  5. Encourage participants to prepare or purchase a basic first aid kit to have in the event of a minor injury. Recommended first aid items: Band-Aids, over-the-counter pain medication, medication for upset stomach, etc.
  6. Keep the flash drive (provided by UK Education Abroad prior to departure) with you throughout the program. Know how to access participants’ passports and health disclosure forms in myEA.
  7. Create a program-specific code of conduct that includes health and safety related items. Share the code of conduct and program expectations with all participants prior to departure (including non-student and/or adult participants).
  8. Conduct pre-departure orientation sessions covering region-specific health and safety precautions and procedures. All UK Sponsored program participants must participate in at least one pre-departure orientation co-facilitated by UK Education Abroad and you as the program director.
  9. Collect and distribute emergency contact information from/to all participants.
  10. Conduct an on-site orientation that acquaints participants with in-country medical procedures and facilities, reinforces emergency protocols, and revisits the code of conduct that you created together.
  11. Upon arrival, have students provide their emergency contact once again. Privately solicit and address health and/or personal concerns once again upon arrival. Emergency contact information and a previously completed self-disclosure health form exists in each student’s myEA application.
  12. Communicate basic details of your personal itinerary and be reachable by participants to respond to incidents and emergencies throughout the program.
  13. Carry a working cell phone and contact information for UK Education Abroad andAXA Assistance (travel medical insurance carrier) at all times while abroad and be prepared to communicate via phone, email, fax, or Skype with local authorities, AXA Assistance, and UK Education Abroad in the event of an emergency.
  14. If there is only one program director, appoint a responsible participant as a second-in-command to assist you if needed in the event of an emergency.
  15. Follow UK Education Abroad procedures (provided during UK Sponsored Director Pre-Departure Orientation) when dealing with an emergency or student misconduct.

Emergency Contact Information

UK Education Abroad provides each program participant with a tri-fold card to carry at all times, “Staying Healthy & Safe While Abroad: Information Resource Guide.” This card provides important tips and contact information that is consistent across programs. In addition, program directors should have students write the following in the provided space in the center of the card:

  • Local emergency services number
  • Program director’s cell phone number (in-use while abroad)
  • Phone number and address of nearest consulate or embassy
  • Phone number and address of nearest AXA Assistance doctor, clinic, or hospital

University of Kentucky International Center Emergency Contact Information:

  • Local authorities should always be the first point of contact regarding significant emergencies abroad.
  • AXA Security Medical Assistance

    • 1-312-935-3542 (42hr)
  • University of Kentucky Police 

    • 859.257.8573 
  • Anthony Ogden, Education Abroad Executive Director

  • Miko McFarland, Education Abroad Assistant Director

  • Jason Hope, UKIC Risk Management

  • Education Abroad Main Line

    • 1-859-257-4067
  • U.S. Offices of Overseas Services

    • 1-202-501-4444

Note: Calls from abroad require that the U.S. country code be entered before the local area code. In most countries, the code for the U.S. is 001. For example, for the UK Education Abroad main office line, dial 001-859-257-4067.

Handling Incidents and Emergencies Abroad

UK Education Abroad emphasizes in the importance of communication to all program participants. During the pre-departure orientation process, UK Education Abroad encourages students to communicate with their program director regarding any and all issues that arise during the program, including course content, cultural adjustment, health and safety incidents, and group dynamics. However, sometimes students are not comfortable sharing information with the program director (e.g., when a participant would be most comfortable talking to someone of his/her own gender). UK Education Abroad invites students to contact their EA advisor, their academic advisor, or another member of the university community during times of stress and uncertainty. Although UK Sponsored program directors are the primary responsible University agent abroad, program directors and students have the support of the entirety of the University of Kentucky, including but not limited to the UK Counseling Center, Dean of Students, VIP: Violence and Intervention Prevention Center, etc.

UK Education Abroad has a primary goal of ensuring that students are healthy and safe and that faculty members are healthy, safe, and protected from liability. If a significant incident or emergency occurs while abroad, proper documentation facilitates clear communication among the program director, the student, UK Education Abroad, parents, and other campus entities if needed. The following are types of incidents should be documented as soon as feasible. Documentation and communication regarding incidents and emergencies should take place as soon as possible after the immediate needs of those involved in the emergency are addressed. Specific protocol regarding emergencies abroad will be provided to program directors during UK Sponsored Director Pre-Departure Orientation.

  • Behavioral infraction
  • Uncharacteristic disruptiveness by a student
  • Illness/injury requiring medical attention
  • Law enforcement action

This list is not exhaustive—when in doubt, document and communicate with UK Education Abroad.  

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of students’ education records. Typically, students’ education records may not be disclosed without their explicit permission to anyone who is not a school official with a legitimate educational interest. However, given the sometimes complex nature of the education abroad process in terms of financial, academic, and health/safety concerns, many students choose to waive their FERPA rights and designate particular people, usually family members, as financial and emergency contacts with whom Education Abroad staff and program directors may discuss a student’s record. If a program director is contacted by someone who wishes to discuss a particular student, please contact UK Education Abroad to consult about how to handle the situation.

Registration with U.S. Department of State

UK Education Abroad automatically enrolls all UK Sponsored Program groups in the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Enrolling in STEP allows the Department of State to better assist enrollees in an emergency. You may read more about STEP at

U.S. consular officers assist Americans who encounter serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties while abroad. Although consular officers cannot act as a citizen’s legal counsel or representative, they can provide the names of local attorneys and doctors, provide loans to destitute Americans, and provide information about dangerous conditions affecting your overseas travel. Consular officers also perform non-emergency services, helping Americans with absentee voting, selective service registration, receiving federal benefits, and filing U.S. tax forms. Consular officers can also notarize documents and issue passports.

The U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Citizens Services may be contacted at the following numbers:

1.202.501.4444 (from outside US)
1.888.407.4747 (from within US)