Serial No. 106-132


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce

Table of Contents

















October 4, 2000

U. S. House of Representatives

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Committee on Education and the Workforce

Washington, D.C.

The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Peter Hoekstra, Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.

Present: Representatives Hoekstra, Schaffer, Tancredo, Scott and Kind.

Staff Present: Peter Warren, Professional Staff Member; Christy Wolfe, Professional Staff Member; Krisann Pearce, Professional Staff Member; Whitney Rhoades, Staff Assistant; Patrick Lyden, Professional Staff Member; Mike Reynard, Deputy Press Secretary; Deborah Samantar, Office Manager; Marshall Grigsby, Minority Senior Legislative Associate/Education; Cheryl Johnson, Minority Counsel/Education and Oversight; and Brian Compagnone, Minority Staff Assistant/Labor.

Chairman Hoekstra. A quorum being present, we are here today for a hearing on Safety in Study Abroad Programs. Under 12(b), opening statements are limited to the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member of the Subcommittee. If other Members have statements, they will be included in the record. With that, I ask unanimous consent for the hearing record to remain open for 14 days to allow Member statements, witness written statements and other material to be submitted for the record. Without objection, so ordered.




I want to thank everyone for being here today. We are here to learn about the safety standards and practices of study abroad programs. My attention was first drawn to this issue in a heightened way by a recent series of articles that ran in the Detroit News. It was headlined by a tragedy that occurred in March in which a pair of 19-year-old American women was shot to death outside a village in Costa Rica. They were part an unstructured program called Creative Co-Op in which one of the students was to photograph the Costa Rican culture. She was given no formal orientation and no local contacts and no assistance in locating housing. She had no in-country supervision, and her only communication with the college was a weekly e-mail. According to one study abroad professional the behavior of the school in this instance borders on the criminal.

This is not the only study abroad tragedy to occur in recent years. In 1998, two pickup trucks carrying bandits intercepted a group of students and teachers from St. Mary's College in Maryland. Five female students were raped. This is an area where there had been numerous reports of highway banditry.

Another tragedy we will hear about today occurred back in 1996, when four American students were killed when the bus they were riding in drove off the Grand Trunk Road in India. One of the students was the daughter of Mr. John Amato, who has traveled here to testify today. The students on that fateful bus ride were participating in the University of Pittsburgh Semester at Sea study abroad program. The bus trip was not a part of the preprinted itinerary, which called for a plane flight that had fallen through due to poor planning. Choosing from several possible options, group leaders elected to put the students on a 6-hour nighttime bus ride on a road called, "one of the most perilous in the world," by an experienced travel writer.

Such tragedies are far from the norm in study abroad, but they force us to focus our attention on a rapidly growing and unstructured field that lacks uniform standards for safety. More than 100,000 American students study abroad each year, and the total is increasing by about 10 percent annually. While Western Europe is still the leading destination for study abroad students, the proportion is shifting. For instance, since the academic year 1985/1986, the share of Americans studying in Europe has fallen by 15 percent while the proportion going to Latin America has more than doubled.

A Presidential Memorandum issued in March requires the Secretaries of State and Education to help increase the number of students which study and intern abroad, encouraging students to choose nontraditional study abroad locations. In June Education Secretary Richard Riley endorsed the goal of doubling student exchanges in the next 10 years.

What concerns me is that there may be a sizable gap between the best and the worst run study abroad programs. That gap is likely to increase if there is a headlong rush to expand student abroad activities by institutions that are not prepared to do so. I fear that they may be tempted to cut corners or to send students to potentially dangerous areas without taking the necessary precautions.

We will hear today from Peter McPherson, the president of Michigan State University, which sends more students abroad to study than any other university in America. The Michigan State program is called one of the safest and best run overseas programs by the Detroit News since it includes a number of safeguards, such as contracting with local experts in each country to hold orientation sessions with arriving students.

But the field lacks overarching safety standards. When study abroad professionals in 1998 drew up a set of common-sense guidelines for ensuring student safety, only a handful of colleges and universities would sign on to them. So while it is relatively easy to learn about the safeguards used by most responsible study abroad programs, it is more difficult to know what the lowest common denominator is, especially for newer, less established overseas programs.

We do know that students are sent into dangerous situations. The Detroit News reports that between 1996 and 1998, American colleges sent students to 16 countries that the State Department had warned Americans to avoid, and students were sent to 11 nations where the Peace Corps had withdrawn its members for safety reasons.

There were 221 American students in Colombia between 1996 and 1998. During that 2-year period, the State Department issued five travel warnings advising Americans to avoid the country due to rampant kidnapping of Americans and violence by drug cartels, guerrillas and paramilitary groups.

There are no comprehensive statistics on study abroad fatalities and injuries. It is clear that the vast majority of students who study abroad return home not only safe and healthy, but with a broader perspective on the world. Many students describe their overseas studies as the most rewarding aspect of their entire college experience. I think the university officials we hear from today will testify to the tremendous educational value of studying in a foreign land.

As a personal note, I am thankful that my children will have the opportunity to study overseas. Two of my kids have been overseas not in formal study programs, but in different programs within the last 2 to 3 years. As a parent I have been concerned about their safety, and even in the position that I am in have found it difficult to get the kind of information that would lead me to have a high degree of confidence in supporting the decision that we made in letting our children go overseas.

The hearing today is an attempt to draw more attention to the importance of safeguarding the lives and well being of those American students who elect to study overseas. I hope that as we move forward and get more information on this, we can develop a program or a framework that will give parents and students the confidence of knowing that the decisions that they are making are in the best interest of their students and the families. With that I will conclude my opening statement.




Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Roemer.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous consent that my entire statement be entered into the record.

Chairman Hoekstra. Without objection, so ordered.

Mr. Roemer. I also ask unanimous consent that a statement by Mr. Olver from Massachusetts be entered into the record.

Chairman Hoekstra. Without objection, so ordered.








Mr. Roemer. I thank the Chairman and extend my heartfelt sympathies and prayers to the Schewe and Amato families regarding their daughters Sara and Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I join you in taking a very serious look at our study abroad programs. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what we might do to improve the oversight and the planning and the preventive activities of these programs overseas.

Study abroad programs are growing rapidly, and they are expanding to more and more destinations around the world. In fact, the number of Americans studying abroad increased from 76,000, 5 years ago to about 114,000 students going overseas in 1997 and 1998. Studying abroad can be a very important aspect of a student's college education. It can provide a global outlook that cannot be obtained from the textbooks.

As our global economy continues to expand, so will the number of students studying abroad. However, before we send students overseas, it is important for students and parents to know the risks and safety guidelines to ensure that they are safe while they are overseas.

As the number of students participating in education abroad programs continues to increase, and as the diversification of destinations continues to increase, the demand for safety in study abroad programs should also expand. With this heightened demand has been an equally important call for universities or study abroad programs to create safety and risk management programs. It is important that study abroad programs implement comprehensive safety plans to help protect students from accidents that might be preventable and to inform students and parents of the risks before tragedy strikes.

Safety and health guidelines for study abroad programs are as varied as the destinations involved. I was pleased to learn that industry wide safety standards have been developed by the National Association for Study Abroad; however, I hope that more study abroad programs might decide to adopt these safety standards. The Education Department offers safety tips for study abroad on its Web site. The State Department encourages universities to look at its consular sheets, which provide safety and crime information for every country. Travel warnings are then issued when countries are considered dangerous for Americans. These are all very good efforts, but are they enough to prevent tragedies like the tragedies that occurred on the Semester at Sea program in India, the Antioch program in Costa Rica, or the St. Mary's program in Guatemala? It is imperative that safety standards and precautions become as aggressive as universities are in promoting study abroad programs.

I look forward to hearing the testimony of today's witnesses and hearing your recommendations on making studying overseas safer, and I thank the Chairman for calling this hearing.

Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.

Let me introduce the witnesses testifying on the first panel. We have Mr. John Amato who as a parent will testify from a family perspective as to the concerns we have for our children as we send them overseas. Thank you for being here.

We have Peter McPherson, the President of Michigan State University. Good morning. Welcome. Thank you for being here. President McPherson is one of those few people who calls and asks us if they can come and testify. He and I have had the opportunity to talk about the need for safety in overseas study programs.

Mr. Roemer. Mr. Chairman did him being from Michigan have any influence on whether or not it was okay to testify?

Chairman Hoekstra. I think it was the high demand of people asking to testify that made it a very easy selection. We are glad that you are here to talk about a very serious issue and thank you for coming.

We have Dr. David Larsen, who is the Vice President and Director of the Center for Education Abroad, Beaver College in Pennsylvania. Welcome. Thank you for being here.

Our next witness is Mr. Brett Laquercia, who is Director of Business Development, Security Services for Kroll, Inc. I believe you work with somebody that this Committee is familiar with; Mr. Cherkasky is that correct?

Mr. Laquercia. Yes.

Chairman Hoekstra. Send our regards to Mr. Cherkasky and tell him there is a new election coming up soon. If he wants to run another Teamsters election, they may have a job for him. It means, I am assuming, with that kind of an invitation, he will probably apply to Michigan State for an overseas study abroad program to get out of the country as quickly as possible.

Thank you all for the panel for being here. Mr. Amato, we will begin with you.




Mr. Amato. My name is John Amato. I am a lawyer and a businessman from New Orleans. However, today I appear before you as the father of a child who was killed while traveling on a study abroad program. I also speak for the parents of three young women, Jenna Druck, University of Colorado, Cherese Laulhere, University of California, and Sara Schewe, Georgetown University, who were killed with my daughter Virginia, a junior at the University of Texas in Austin. Sara's parents are here, as are some of her other relatives. We thank Chairman Hoekstra and the Members of the Subcommittee for giving us the opportunity to address this paramount issue.

Jenna, Cherese, Sara and Virginia were killed while enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh Semester at Sea program. This is one of the oldest, largest and most extensive study abroad programs sponsored by an American university. A semester abroad program encompasses an around-the-world voyage on a dedicated ship with stops in nine countries. Each semester the students number more than 600, coming from universities located all over the United States. These one-semester-trip students take regular classes on the ship and are required to participate in shore side field programs for 20 percent of their academic credit in each course. The program sponsor makes all arrangements for the 270-field programs offered each semester.

Our daughters were killed while on a 4-day field program in India on March 27, 1996. At 11 p.m., the chartered bus carrying the students overturned on the Grand Trunk Road between Delhi and Agra. Four students, two Indian tour guides and a program chaperone were killed. Three students were critically wounded.

The week before last when I was invited to address the Committee today, I was told that my oral testimony would be limited to 5 minutes, but that the written testimony could be as long as I needed it to be. Because the story that I am here to tell you cannot be covered in such a brief period of time, the written testimony is much more complete and includes several expert reports as well as correspondence to and from the University of Pittsburgh. I urge each of you to study this material, for it is a compelling story of how institutional arrogance, stupidity, complacency and a thorough lack of recognition of the awesome responsibility involved in student study abroad sponsorships in one of the most highly acclaimed and oldest study abroad programs cost our daughters their lives and wrecked our families.

It is a story of how our daughters were sold a plane ride between Varanasi and Agra and instead were put on a bus between Delhi and Agra at night, on a segment of road that is so treacherous that competent tour companies do not even use it, so treacherous that anyone we have spoken with is familiar with the road. Responsible institutions shouldn't act in so unconscionable a manner. The expert reports that were submitted with our written testimony that describe the conditions on the road seem almost unbelievable. One expert states the road is like a deadly video game in which obstacles and other vehicles come at you constantly. The same report says it is, in fact, difficult to find an Indian guidebook, which does not warn about the hazardous road conditions there.

What is also unbelievable is that the program sponsors assigned the task of physically organizing 600 students on 40 field programs in India not to one of the large, reputable, experienced tour groups in India, but to a newly created, uninsured two-person office in Connecticut, who then created a daisy chain of different substitutes in India to physically manage the process. What is more, Dr. Jill Wright, the sponsor's Director of Academic Development and Field Programs who made these decisions, indicated a year later in deposition that she would put the students in a bus on that road again.

A few weeks after our daughter's death, we sent the Chairman of the Board and the Chancellor of the University a request for the investigative reports on this accident. Included was a paper that we as parents had agreed to compose for a conference for university administrators of study abroad. The point I would like to note is that the primary author of that paper is my wife Virginia. You will find that it is a very gripping piece. It is in the package. She also was a primary author of the written report today.

Our requests for a report remain unanswered today. We were naive when we sent our statement and letters to the university. We fully expected the Chancellor and the Chairman of the Board of the University to be as concerned as we were that the facts be brought to light so that whatever went wrong could be corrected before additional tragedies occurred. Instead we learned the University's primary concern was litigation defense. They clearly wanted us to go away.

We did not go away. We persisted searching for answers as to how this could have happened and how it could have been prevented. We hired Kroll Associates, who you will hear from later, to investigate. We sent a representative to India, who hired agents in India to investigate and gather information. What we learned from all of this is that our daughters died because Ph.D.s with no expertise in life safety and no common sense were making life-or-death decisions for our daughters.

This is a systemic problem based upon the tragedies in study abroad programs with which we have become familiar since our own. We have every reason to believe the problem is prevalent in the study abroad industry. To state the obvious, the task of assuring safety is far more difficult in a study abroad program than on a domestic campus. To state the obvious, at the end of the day the university sponsors of study abroad programs have assumed the responsibility for the lives of the enormous number of bright, eager young people who have been transported to totally unfamiliar places and exposed to totally unfamiliar risks. To state the obvious, these children and their parents have placed their trust in the university sponsor to return the children home safely at the end of the study abroad program.

The problem with the study abroad system is that the conduct of many university sponsors indicates that they have failed to realize these obvious facts. I believe the only way to fix the problem is for the heads of universities and their trustees to insist that no university-sponsored program or any aspect of it is to be permitted unless it is safe. This means that systems are in place to ensure the entire structure and implementation of the study abroad program as designed, and overseen by true safety experts with safety as the major concern.

We believe in the value of study abroad. We do not wish to diminish the impact of such global learning; however, the first priority of study abroad programs must be the safety of each and every student. The institution sponsors of these endeavors have assumed a heightened obligation and responsibility. That obligation with respect to safety must govern the entire structure and operation of the organization, and all arrangements for travel, housing site selection, and personnel or they ought not be in the business. Listen to some of these places they took people on the other studies abroad and without supervision. I don't understand it. Our daughters would be alive today if the principles I have just enunciated had been followed, and so would the children of a number of other parents who grieve as we do.

These necessary changes can evolve eventually after enough students die needlessly. What can happen now is if a court awards a very substantial monetary judgment, or if a significant insurance policy is required of the sponsors so that you have the people taking the financial risk vetting the programs, or if legislation is passed to establish Federal protection for our children. Congress has passed a number of statutes to protect shareholders, seamen, railroad workers and many others, and in many of these cases, it is based upon the fact that there is a special control, the seamen, railroad worker, the heightened responsibility that comes with it.

The children in study abroad programs have clearly been placed in the Federal arena. You know our situation is very simple. Almost all the students, on the Semester at Sea program came from everywhere else but the University of Pittsburgh, and had never been on the campus. They enrolled for one semester. They are being brought from all over the world. They are buying these trips. The India package was bought on the high seas. The ship they are on is a Panamanian vessel controlled by the Tung interests of Hong Kong.

In any event, I think this is in the Federal arena. I think that this Committee has the power to get involved and hopefully result in a fix, which will save other parents the tragic losses that we endured. Thank you.






Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. Thank you very much for that testimony.

President McPherson.






Mr. McPherson. Thank you. It is good to be here. Mr. Amato I certainly hear and appreciate the tragic story of your daughter, and I think this hearing to discuss these issues can be helpful.

I come by this experience as the President of Michigan State and involvement in international programs. I left Michigan State in the 1960s and spent 2 years in the Peace Corps in Peru, and then during the 1980s ran the U.S. foreign aid program for 6-1/2 years and traveled extensively in developing countries all over the world during that period of time. I thought a great deal about the security of my foreign aid staff and of course security matters and issues when I was a Peace Corps volunteer.

I came to Michigan State believing intensely, passionately, really, that undergraduates at Michigan State and schools around the country should have an international exposure. To go off and work the rest of one's life in the 21st century without a deeper sense of the global, it seems to me, is just lacking an educational experience that State universities like ours and other universities around the country should provide. So study abroad has been one of the areas that I have particularly emphasized at Michigan State.

We have gone from about 800 students to 1,750 students who went abroad last year, and as such we are now the largest study abroad program in a university in the country. I guess we are probably one-half percent or so of all the students that go abroad. We now have 152 programs in 52 countries. We continue to have many students in Europe, but we are now in many places around the world, and I think that is important.

As we have increased the size of the program, we were conscious of being very certain that the academic quality continued to be high and that the security and safety of these students was of utmost concern. Now, as we have thought through this, we know that it is not possible to always protect all people from all dangers. This is true in our country, and it is true abroad. The fact that you can't give total protection anyplace in the world against all contingencies doesn't mean you shouldn't take every reasonable step, however, to protect students from injuries, from crime, those sorts of things.

Well, how have we done that? We have done something that I think is unique of any school. If there are others, I don't know of them. We set up these programs as a decentralized structure where the department here or department there has responsibility for running these programs, but there is certain oversight on some of these matters. For example, and I would recommend it, we have a committee headed by a vice president with extensive international experience that makes the final judgment as to whether a program can be in a country or has to be pulled out of a country. The chair of that committee and most of those members has no line responsibility whatsoever for programs. We have segregated the program responsibility from these security judgments.

Also, there is daily information from the State Department bulletins. There is other information, very sophisticated. We, in fact, have polled other countries, and moved programs within countries. This has been an effective means to segregate the responsibility of program from the principal security issue of should you be there or not.

In addition every student studying abroad has to have medical insurance. In countries where there is not really strong medical care available, there are MEDEVAC facilities available for students to use. And very importantly, we have insisted on a cultural and other orientation before students go and then right after they get there. Countries provide different challenges. You mentioned Costa Rica and so on. There are different questions and a thorough briefing, and working these over is certainly an important part of making sure a program works.

Over the last 5 years we have had 7,800 students go abroad. And we have had no serious injuries or accidents, except one student who fell, resulting in a fractured foot. There has been nothing serious in those areas. We are very proud of that. We, of course, knock on wood because that could change. There could be something that comes up. But we are taking the steps to minimize that possibility. The standards we are following are those, which would certainly fit within the national standard that has been broadly agreed upon. It appears that the universities are generally following these standards.

We feel intensely about the health and security of our students. As I get e-mails or letters from parents of students day after day and deal with those, I feel some real personal responsibility for students in a way that, frankly, is coming from the business world and government. I didn't really understand how directly I would feel that, and I think that is generally the case of university administrators.

What should we do from here? One contribution we hope to make is we are planning a national conference at Michigan State's campus next fall where we are going to do a review. My guess is we will get people from all over the country, and we will focus very seriously on quality, cost and security measures. I think that will help drive the general awareness of what should be done. It may well be appropriate for the Department of Education or some other Federal body to gather information about what is really occurring on the safety measures. My guess is that report will be helpful and generally reassuring.

Mr. Chairman, it is good to be here this morning, and I welcome any questions at the appropriate time.







Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. Dr. Larsen.






Mr. Larsen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Members. Thank you for affording me this opportunity to appear before you today on the topic of safety and study abroad. This is a topic of critical interest to my professional colleagues and me in the field of international education. By focusing attention on this issue, this Subcommittee helps us to draw attention to areas where all parties involved in international education can work jointly to reduce risks. This hearing also presents a welcome opportunity to highlight what study abroad practitioners throughout the United States are currently doing to assure the safety of program participants and to address the issue of safety in study abroad.

I am here today representing myself. I am a Vice President of Beaver College in Glenside, Pennsylvania, where I also direct the Center for Education Abroad. Beaver College is a leading campus-based provider of study abroad with 63 program sites in 8 countries. We enrolled approximately 2,000 students this year from over 300 different colleges and universities. Beaver College began the study abroad programs in 1948. I have 30 years of professional experience in the field of international education, including 2 years of university teaching, 6 years overseas, 10 years executive director of the bi-national Fulbright Foundation in Greece, 4 years as a unit head at the Institute for International Education in New York, and service as director of the Center of Education in the University of Tennessee in Knoxville before moving to Beaver College in 1988.

I also appear here on behalf of my professional colleagues in two capacities. I am Chair of the Health and Safety Subcommittee for the professional student study abroad section of NAFSA, Association of International Educators. This is the largest professional association of international educators in the United States, with more than 8,600 members on college and university campuses nationwide. That is a membership that includes study abroad professionals on U.S. campuses as well as a number of so-called third-party study abroad providers, organizations that assist students and campuses with providing study abroad opportunities that are not otherwise available at a particular institution. The subcommittee chair is charged with providing professional practice information and guidance on health and safety issues to our colleagues in study abroad.

I am also a member of the Inter-organizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad, a nearly 5-year-old effort to craft a professional code for the study abroad community. The task force's principal achievement to date is the development and dissemination of a set of guidelines to address health and safety issues in our field. I will speak a bit more about these guideline later in these remarks.

While there are many goals for study abroad in this country, my professional colleagues and I share three key objectives: To maximize opportunities for U.S. students to study abroad on bona fide programs, to increase the number of American students who take advantage of these opportunities, and to minimize the risks involved with study abroad.

I believe any discussion about safety and study abroad must first look at why we are undertaking this activity in U.S. higher education. Because President McPherson has already touched on this topic, and because our time together is limited, I request that I be permitted to submit for the record a summary of those reasons separately. Thank you.

I would like to describe for you now what we at the Beaver College Center for Education do and how we inform participants and their parents about the need for all of us to work together to look after the welfare and well being of our students while they are in our programs. Beaver College employs full-time professional staff who plan and implement programs and who work with our students in every country in which they study. Our overseas staff are responsible for site selection; for making program arrangements; for explaining our expectations to overseas providers; for arranging for housing, and, as applicable, program-related excursions; providing orientation programs which involve every student we send overseas; and for providing a safety net for students throughout their stay. Our overseas staff establishes and maintains contact with local authorities and is prepared to respond appropriately to any eventuality.

Our overseas orientations include information delivered both orally and in writing about local laws, safety precaution, dangerous practices, and areas to avoid. They include specific information about the use of alcohol and other drugs, and explain the penalties concerned with abuse. Information about how to be careful, as well as toll-free numbers to use to contact staff in case of emergencies is also provided. I would like to request permission to submit for the record a copy of Living in Britain, a Beaver College orientation guide that illustrates this point.

One point I would make is that you won't find a section on safety in this orientation guide. That information is too valuable to put in one place where it can be skipped over. It is woven into the fabric of the guide throughout the text, and you will find it coming up in a variety of contexts as you look at this material that students are presented with when they arrive overseas.

All students on Beaver programs are covered throughout their overseas program by health and accident insurance, which we provide. Our students and their families receive program orientation materials, which include general health and safety information. This material is also available on the World Wide Web at

Other program models may handle orientation somewhat differently. For example, programs which include groups of students from a single institution traveling together to overseas sites organized by that institution are usually able to provide face-to-face preprogram orientation on the home campus before departure as well as an on-site orientations when they arrive, as President McPherson has described.

The goal for all of us practitioners is to make everyone involved aware of his or her individual responsibilities, to equip them to make good decisions, and to inform them about how to obtain assistance whenever it is required. Included in the Center for Education's abroad pre-departure materials is a link to the guideline on health and safety. As I said earlier, these guidelines are intended to help students, parents and study abroad practitioners recognize their individual responsibilities regarding study abroad. They have come from the mutually recognized need to articulate a set of guidelines for study abroad. A copy of these guidelines is included in the material I wish to submit for the record. And the guidelines themselves are available to the public on NAFSA's Web site at


It is important to note what these guidelines can and cannot do. As the preparatory remarks to the guidelines note, they aspire, not regulate. They were fundamentally voluntarily, and they reflect an effort to influence planning and professional behavior in a way that fosters best practices.

I believe to a very large extent these guidelines are well known among my colleagues, and that reasonable efforts at following them are being made throughout the study abroad community, but these guidelines and other available options, regulation and control of study abroad can never guarantee absolute safety while on a program. Seeking such a guarantee would be illusory and would ignore the reality that study abroad programs sending U.S. institutions and receiving foreign communities are not the only parties that have a responsibility for reasonable efforts at safety. External forces, unanticipated events, emergencies, accidents and the results of their own imprudent behavior continue to be facts of life for students overseas and for their program provider, just as they are on home campus.

With almost every educational venture, the efforts by students and their parents to plan and to prepare themselves for all aspects of the experience play a major role in determining the eventual success of study abroad participation for any individual.

As I see it, the biggest task now confronting the study abroad community is to carry word of this shared responsibility to strive to implement best practice standards to our colleagues in the profession and, through them, to our students and their parents. In that regard I think we have been quite aggressive during the more than 2 years since the guidelines were published.

NAFSA, our principal professional organization, has presented full-day workshops on health and safety issues in each of its national conferences. Indeed, the first of these workshops were actually developed before the guidelines were finalized. In addition, there have been many sections covering various aspects of this broad topic each year at NAFSA's 11 annual regional conferences. These conferences are widely attended by international educational professionals, including study abroad practitioners. Sister organizations of educators, such as AIEA, the Association of Internationality Educational Administrators; NASPA, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators; and CIEE, the Council on International Educational Exchange have also held similar sessions at their conferences. I have been personally involved in many of these sessions and continue to be involved in their development and refinement.

In addition to these workshops and sessions, NAFSA has published general information on the topic. For your record, I request I be permitted to submit as an example the NAFSA newsletter article on Safety in Study Abroad from March 1998 when this was distributed to NAFSA's membership nationally.

During the summer of 1999 and again in 2000, a small but highly qualified group of NAFSA’s and others met for a retreat at my institution, Beaver College, to carry forward the work of developing and updating training materials on the topic of safety and study abroad. Practitioners consult with their colleagues on such issues. Many also consult the manual Managing Liability and Overseas Programs, by Ken M. Weeks, published by College Legal Information.

Another important resource for practitioners in our field is the Safety Clearinghouse. This is a Web-based information source funded by FIPSE, the Foundation for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education of the Department of Education, which is based at the University of Southern California Center for Global Education.

We clearly have more work to do. In addition to the ongoing refinements in professional training and increased advocacy for best practices among our colleagues, we are addressing a set of challenges related to disclosure regarding safety and study abroad. Revisions to the Higher Education Act related to crime reporting clearly affect some of our study abroad programs in terms of reporting specific incidents involving students on our overseas programs. We have opened a dialogue with the Department of Education on this topic, which we expect will result in an agreement about how to identify and to report that information most accurately and effectively. Provisions of the Higher Education Act are not crafted with the study abroad specifically in mind, so clarification of several matters is going to be necessary to enable the production of data that is useful and mindful to learn.

I believe we must also arrive at a community consensus about what other times of information might best be made available to students and their parents to enable them to assess what risks they face, to understand how best to address those risks, and to decide whether those risks appear to be reasonable. My study abroad colleagues have begun this set of conversations. They flow from an ongoing discussion about standards and accreditations that is not exclusive to safety issues, but clearly includes them. I won't speculate on where that conversation will lead us, but I believe its clear intent is to provide clear information about study abroad participants that informs them about a range of matters, including academic quality and safety alike.

My purpose today has been twofold: First, to thank this Subcommittee for its assistance in bringing to the public thoughtful awareness of the issues of safety and study abroad; secondly, to inform the Subcommittee about the ongoing efforts by study abroad practitioners to make overseas educational experiences available to American students, and to keep American students at least as safe as possible. Thank you for this opportunity. I will be happy to answer any questions.





Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.

Brett. I got the name right the first time. I am not going to test my luck.






Mr. Laquercia. You are safe with the first time, too.

My name is Brett Laquercia. I am Director of Business Development for the Security Services division of Kroll Risk Consulting Services. I would like to thank you, Chairman Hoekstra and the Members of the Subcommittee, for inviting me to testify at today's hearing. I also have a more detailed written testimony and request that it be entered into the record. In trying to keep this brief to 5 minutes, there is so much that I only touch upon, and if we have a chance to discuss this a little further, I would welcome that opportunity.

My purpose here today is to outline the risks for which academic study abroad programs must be prepared, to describe my impressions of the academic community's safety and security preparedness for study abroad programs, and to outline the measures academia can take to reduce the level of risk to which it exposes its students in study abroad programs.

To begin I would like to describe the qualifications to be present on this panel of my firm and myself. Since 1972, Kroll has been serving businesses, governments, and nonprofits in combating fraud, gathering information on potential partners and adversaries, and protecting their interests from physical security and nonphysical threats against their interests.

Kroll advises organizations on security and designs travel safety and security programs, policies and procedures especially for corporations. With 50 offices on 6 continents, Kroll is the largest firm of its kind and conducts more than 50 percent of its work outside the borders of the United States. In the 8 years I have been an employee of Kroll, I have advised hundreds of major corporations and some universities on how they can mitigate the risks faced by their employees and students traveling on business or study abroad programs. I have advised on the safety and security of individual and group travel as well as corporate employee relocations abroad, and have given symposiums on this topic to the American Society for Industrial Security, the National Business Travel Association, and the Employee Relocation Council, among others.

What are the risks that study abroad programs ought to anticipate and be prepared to mitigate and respond to? Simply stated, these risks include natural disasters, unsafe road and rail transit, terrorist acts, petty crime, carjacking, kidnapping, rape, homicide, civil unrest, coups d'etat, extortion, official corruption, health hazards, and other threatening or disruptive situations.

Based on personal experience with my firm and its corporate and university clients, it is my opinion in the aggregate the academic community is relatively less prepared to confront the risks faced by its students abroad than is the corporate community and its business travelers respectively. A specific common problem that universities have shared with me during consultation is a credibility gap that arises when group leaders on the ground and in country call in to the school administration for advice from decision makers when some adverse incident strikes or is threatening. The group leaders on the ground complain that the school decision makers are less informed than they are and so are not in a position to direct them on appropriate courses of action. Administrators on campus, the reality is, are left too often to simply search the Internet or the State Department's information service. And while the State Department's information service offers a valuable perspective, it is but a single perspective and is very often not specific enough to meet the needs and sometimes not current enough to meet the needs that are required at the moment.

In a moment of crisis, decision makers should have access to information that is relatively tailored to their needs, easy to navigate, and that garners current applicable results which they can immediately put to work. Additionally, they should be able to contact analysts who are compiling these reports so that the analyst can clarify the information that is outlining current events and give advice based on their knowledge of the events.

What resources are available to universities, and how can these mitigate risk and save lives? Let me just say initially that I am intimately familiar with most of these services, because my firm offers most of these services or works very closely with companies that offer the ones that we don't. Most of the experience is based on the corporate community's use of these types of services to mitigate the risks in advance and be prepare to respond. First, of the services that are available, importantly time should be set aside for a safe travel seminar for the group and this should be done by a qualified security consultant. Additionally, a security-consulting firm should review the prospective itinerary and make recommendations with regard to "go" versus "no-go" locales, and specific precautions to be taken in different areas.

Immediate results will also be gained by accessing an appropriate subscription information service, a proprietary service. Political risk assessments provide daily updates as well as in-depth country analyses on current conditions and forces shaping daily events. Universities would be able to more intelligently assess their choices of study abroad host countries from a security standpoint by accessing information on political and social conditions, the likelihood of peaceful or violent near-term change, crime trends and whether foreigners, students or Americans in particular, have been targeted. Additionally, information will be available on terrorist activity and the coincidence of significant local anniversaries, which may result in unrest, or adverse activity with the planned dates of the programs. This information will also help campus decision makers in the ongoing monitoring of safety and security conditions in country once the group is at their destination.

And an additional planning tool and critical handout to each traveler is a city-specific travel advisory. These provide brief, but valuable information on airports, such as scams, alerts, restrictions and requirement, latest local news and a city calendar, local dos and don'ts, and tips for safe travel within and between cities, and alerts to scams and how to recognize them early and get away before it is too late. These should also include health warnings and emergency contact numbers for embassies, consulates, police, ambulance and direct dial codes to reach U.S. operators.

The next measure ought to be contracting for an emergency hotline. This would be monitored 24 hours a day by trained crisis management personnel. All students and group leaders would have the wallet card with the number they could call in the event of an emergency. Depending on the urgency of the matter, the call would trigger a report, and the operator would gather critical information, take a report and immediately contact one of the school's 24-hour designees. This would trigger crisis management measures and save precious hours and, in some cases, days, ensuring consistency in crisis response procedures and the use of all of the resources in place.

Finally, tying all of this together is a crisis management plan. The plan is used as a rough road map for the crisis team, which is assembled during the creation of the plan. The plan should lay the groundwork for evacuation as well as responding to kidnapping, serious illness, and loss of life. The crisis plan and team will benefit from periodic updates and exercises or tabletop crisis simulations, which instruct on what can go wrong and how a plan may facilitate a resolution, but may not anticipate certain complications. The benefit is that the crisis team emerges from these exercises better equipped to react quickly and efficiently to a real emergency after having lived through a simulation.

Some additional considerations are conducting proper background checks and due diligence on local in country contacts, travel agencies and partners. Contracting with a MEDEVAC organization and I am just going to depart for a moment and say in the SAS program, I did read that some students who were seeking medical attention went to three different hospitals before they found one that they felt was up to standards. Contracting with a MEDEVAC organization will certainly help because these often manage a case from afar by phone and are certainly prepared to provide air ambulance services. But also the previously mentioned information service often provides names and addresses and phone numbers of health care facilities in locations where they are difficult to find.

Finally, it is important to consider kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance. All of these components work together to open a security umbrella over the group and improve readiness and preparedness to respond quickly, which in many cases will avert disaster and in many more will speed recovery. But implementing even a single one of these will make a difference. Thank you.






Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.

By unanimous consent, a number of witnesses have referenced other documents that they would like submitted for the record. Without objection, so ordered. Thank you.

Mr. Amato, the real question, at least at this point is, when your daughter went overseas did you feel you were well informed? Or did you feel that you had sufficient information to make the types of decisions based on an understanding of the risk that your daughter might be in? Are some of things that have been talked about today, things that you would have wished would have been in place in 1996?

Mr. Amato. If you could bear with me a little bit on making a circle rather than directly answering.

Chairman Hoekstra. Absolutely.

Mr. Amato. The one thing that I wish I had known was that so many people with a special kind of IQ on the academic side of the university houses people with a deficiency in common sense. If I had known that the academic side of the university was making decisions that were life and death determinative, where to go, who to select to supervise, what bus company, what road, which hotel, on down this whole list of the actual travel side, then of course I would never have sent my daughter on the trip.

Had I known in advance that there were accidents or events that had occurred that had cost children their lives on prior trips, I don't believe it would have made a difference; if you had a suicide, somebody trying to do something crazy, somebody climbing off on their own, a drug event. No, I think it was the fact that having been in business for a long time and flying the banner of a university that has one of the most well-known programs out there, and having checked with students and parents who had been on prior Semester at Sea programs, that we did the kind of due diligence that a normal parent would do.

The real world of the programs is that the allure is extraordinary. One of the things in my written testimony is that having watched the video and having read the promotional literature, we all wanted to go. We were envious of Virginia, who had finished junior year, and wanted to enroll in this program. That is the reality side of it. The very simple, practical problem is not understanding. We felt comfortable with the fact that the program appeared controlled, and we cautioned our daughter not to wander but stay on the organized programs within the individual cities. They are not going to write down that they have dumb Ph.D.s making the decisions or that they are completely cavalier about the fun or the allure.

For the university side of this, the prestige is enormous. My good friend, the President, sitting next to me is very proud of his University having all of these incredible programs scattered all over the world. Prestige is great. There is a lot of money in it. There truly is. The lure is fantastic. You have and everybody you talk to have children participate. However, the whole time parents cross their fingers and pray.

The problem is that we didn’t understand that they had people who didn't know how to make good decisions making decisions. And the question is how you fix that.

Chairman Hoekstra. Peter, at Michigan State, at least according to your testimony, you have separated the decision-making by the academics from safety.

Mr. McPherson. Well, let me just cover a quick point first.

That is that 60 percent of our programs on a cost-per-cost credit don't cost any more than being on campus. And, frankly, this has been a program that we have struggled to break even on as we have driven these costs up. I think it is a real mistake to believe that these are huge moneymakers. They are certainly not for Michigan State. I don't know about Beaver and others.

The drive here is to do this because we in academia intensely feel it is a real mistake for students not to have a global experience. We need to be a country that is much more engaged internationally throughout, and the fastest, best way to get this done is to have our students study abroad, or at least an important part of it.

Now, what we have done at Michigan State, and I think it is a model that can be used in a lot of places, is we have separated some of these key decisions from the program managers. It is like anything else: If you are in charge of a program, it may not always be easy to be detached to make some decisions. I don't think, with due respect to my colleague on the right, that that is because academics are impractical people. They are a varying group like everybody else. I know for a fact that I have many professors and academic leaders that just have very good common sense. So I need to put that in there.

Our committee separately makes key decisions. Should the program be in a country or should it be pulled out? They review the location within the country, they review housing, they review travel arrangements. They look at program activity, and frequently we make changes. The committee does recommend changes or direct changes. It is a good model. I believe we can learn from each other, and this might be helpful to other universities.

Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. I have a whole series of questions I would like to ask regarding the role of Federal involvement versus voluntary guidelines and those types of things, but my red light has come on.

We’ve had the lights and bells indicate that we need to vote. We have two votes. I will yield to Mr. Roemer, then we will break for about 15 to 20 minutes so we can go vote.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Olver from Massachusetts has joined us, and I entered his statement in the record at the beginning of the hearing.

After hearing your story, Mr. Amato, with four children of my own, I, too, want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to you and the Schewe family. I can't imagine the grief that you have gone through.

I am a supporter of these overseas programs, Mr. McPherson. You said you had how many students overseas over the last 5 years?

Mr. McPherson. We’ve had seven thousand eight hundred.

Mr. Roemer. How many injuries or deaths have you had during that period of time?

Mr. McPherson. We have had no serious injuries or crimes upon these students.

Mr. Roemer. Have you ever had to cancel a program overseas for a variety of reasons?

Mr. McPherson. Yes. Yes.

Mr. Roemer. What reasons were those?

Mr. McPherson. Security concerns.

Mr. Roemer. What type of security concerns?

Mr. McPherson. We canceled our program to Zimbabwe, for example, a year or so ago as the political situation changed.

Mr. Roemer. What kind of decision-making goes into the cancellation of a program like that? Who advises you, the people on the ground in country, the State Department, the Department of Education, Kroll; who gives you input?

Mr. McPherson. Really all of those do. There is a daily check of the State Department information, and that is helpful. On campus in our case there are some experts, and we have contacts, relationships in Zimbabwe that we were able to rely upon.

Mr. Roemer. When did you cancel that program?

Mr. McPherson. Oh, I have forgotten. We cancelled about a year ago.

Mr. Roemer. Had you had any scares leading up to the cancellation?

Mr. McPherson. No, we just cancelled.

Mr. Roemer. You canceled because you saw the political situation on the ground deteriorating and becoming dangerous?

Mr. McPherson. That has been our usual pattern. We have a system in place to monitor these things. I was a banker for several years before I came to Michigan State, and we had a credit risk committee that had the same system. The people that were on the credit risk committee weren’t giving the loans, and I thought that check and balance worked well. It is the same theory really.

Mr. Roemer. Do you use any of the guidelines developed by Dr. Larsen and his advisory committees?

Mr. McPherson. We are part of those committees, and basically we have found those helpful in every way, to my knowledge.

Mr. Roemer. Do you have a program?

Mr. McPherson. We are in those guidelines.

Mr. Roemer. Do you have a program currently in the Middle East in Israel?

Mr. McPherson. Yes, we do.

Mr. Roemer. Have you done something with respect to what has happened over there with the Palestinians?

Mr. McPherson. Yes. We have watched it carefully.

Mr. Roemer. Have you evacuated, or what did you do in that situation?

Mr. McPherson. We make sure our students aren't anywhere near the situation.

Mr. Roemer. Do they go through a special briefing program?

Mr. McPherson. Absolutely.

Mr. Roemer. I am not a lawyer, this is not a court of law, and I don't want to conduct a case here. Dr. Larsen, in Mr. Amato's case does it seem to be a decision made with respect to last-minute travel arrangements? We are not talking about the broad philosophy of supporting study abroad programs; we are talking about a specific case. Was a last-minute decision made to change travel plans?

Mr. Larsen. I am not familiar with the details of the case.

Mr. Roemer. Are you familiar with the University of Pittsburgh's study abroad program or the reputation for safety or accidents?

Mr. Larsen. Yes, in general I am.

Mr. Roemer. How do you grade their guidelines and their safety programs?

Mr. Larsen. Are you talking about the Semester at Sea program?

Mr. Roemer. I am.

Mr. Larsen. The material that Semester at Sea has shared with me over the last 3 or 4 years about safety precautions that need to be taken both before and during an overseas experience are, quite honestly, exemplary. They have excellent material available.

Mr. Roemer. So you believe that this emphasis that you have put on best practice standards and so forth have not only been adopted by many of these schools, but practiced and implemented by these schools?

Mr. Larsen. Our effort at the present time is to share information about the guidelines, to provide instruction on how they can be implemented, and to urge their adoption and their implementation. Whether it is formal adoption, or signing off on a document is immaterial to me. What is important to me is that people are aware of and are following the guidelines that we have tried to provide.

Mr. Roemer. Do you visit these overseas programs on the ground, or do you serve in an advisory capacity of promulgating the guidelines the best way possible?

Mr. Larsen. My job is to take care of Beaver College's overseas programs, and I do visit those. We are very careful within our own program. So these are the ones I control. The rest of what I do as a professional in the field is voluntary, and it is educational, which means it involves helping people understand what they ought to be doing.

Mr. Roemer. Mr. Chairman, I have a lot more questions, but I know we have to go vote.

Chairman Hoekstra. We will recess and reconvene as soon as we take care of the business of two votes. Committee will be in recess.





Chairman Hoekstra. The Subcommittee will come to order. I have just a couple of more questions.

Dr. Larsen, you talked about the voluntary guidelines that have been developed. Is it correct, President McPherson or Dr. Larsen that Michigan State took part in developing that standard, but you have not signed on or adopted it yet? Is that correct?

Mr. McPherson. I gather that we have been part of developing them. I believe that before I became President they were developed. We haven't formally signed on to guidelines but clearly our program is at or above the standards. We basically have followed them. Such a voluntary, widely accepted procedure seems to be an appropriate way to do this.

Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Roemer and I were talking about voluntary guidelines as we went over for the vote. Is there a role for the Federal Government to get involved in this? I think Mr. Amato said that there might be. Mr. Larsen, you are suggesting voluntary standards. Would anybody or all of you care to comment on what the Federal role might be?

Mr. Larsen. I have been trying to think of what a Federal role might be in this effort. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I think the role that this hearing is playing in heightening awareness of the concerns around the country is important. I think it is important that the heads of educational institutions throughout the United States understand what President McPherson does about the importance of study abroad and the critical nature of looking after health and safety concerns.

I honestly feel that the need now is for education and heightening awareness rather than for legislation.

Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. McPherson, Mr. Amato, do either one of you have a comment?

Mr. McPherson. The study abroad programs are an area, which are rapidly expanding; there is a huge amount of innovation that is going on. We are doing this program somewhat differently than many other schools have because I have looked at figuring out how to reduce the cost while maintaining the quality. I think there is lots of innovation that is going to happen in the years ahead. I would agree with your statement on the question of Federal Government regulation on things. I think you want to be very careful about what you want to do. I believe that this is such an important thing for this country we better do it right. We will have 500,000 students studying abroad in 10 years, maybe more. I would like to have a large segment of those be Michigan State students. So how do we assure reasonable standards and safety?

Well, I doubt whether Federal Government regulation could, but I think one of the first things that you might do is a careful study by the Department of Education as to what is actually occurring. The Assistant Secretary will be testifying here shortly. He happens to be a man who is deeply interested in this particular program. This would, in fact, seem to me to be a reasonable step, and we would certainly want to cooperate in such a venture.

Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Amato.

Mr. Amato. I don't believe that the Congress would be able to pass a statute that included the sort of detailed regulation that would solve the problem. I am not saying that it couldn't be helpful. I really believe that the liability issue is the direction that has the most opportunity.

Let me talk about a few small things. Which law applies to an accident in Guatemala, or an event somewhere else in the world? What level of insurance does the program sponsor carry? Is there a punitive damage recovery potential when we are talking about the life of a child who has no dependents and who hasn’t begun a career that may have resulted in being a wonderfully successful contributor to society?

You need to avoid the road kill comparisons of "we are going to lose some" about all of this. They are far too valuable to us for that. I think if you end up with a court saying to one of these program sponsors, yeah, you really blew it, and that is going to cost you $25 million or some big number, then what happens is the universities, the boards and the chairmen say, wait a minute, time out. Let's us understand every single thing about what we do, because we can't afford to get socked like that. We can't be in this business if we can't even ensure it.

I don't know what the situation is with Michigan State. They may feel as if they have immunity as a State institution. I don't have a clue about that at all. But I suggest to you that a Federal statute that said, if a bad thing happens you go to Federal court, and you have a Federal standard of liability, and you collect punitive damages. Whether you want to embellish it with a requirement for insurance or not, basically you think of this as sovereign immunity and all that. However, insure it and get Lloyds or AIG to put the experts inside your program and vet it and weed out the things that you shouldn't do. Or let them have a direct involvement in deciding what is the moment in time that you should pull them out of Zimbabwe, or should you never have put them there in the first place. Should you have used this bus company? Should you have used this tour company? Are you going to bid it and see who is the cheapest to provide transportation from one spot to another rather than saying who is the best provider?

People who put their children in these programs are for the most part upper-middle-income families. They are families that are the richest people in America. They are people who would be putting their kids in private institutions if they wanted, or their children have come from private institutions. Don't tell me that you put my child on a road between Delhi and Agra on a bus! The right way to do it would have been to overnight in Delhi and take the train in the morning, which might have cost a few bucks more per person. That may well be one of the reasons why our daughters died. When you look at these things, it is not how cheaply they can be done. It is how safely they can be done, and it costs a little more to hire a control, it costs more to have advisors, and it costs more to send people first who know what the hell they are doing. It costs more to have a vetting process within all this. All of that just gets spread. If it is too damn expensive, then you can't sponsor that program, you can't go to that place, and you can't do that thing.

I think that is the easiest way to get to it, to be honest with you. The professional study abroad programs will wear out the issue of what precise guidelines ought to be involved. I think it is a wonderful, necessary part of life, but if you want to get this thing fixed, make them liable in a big way. They will fix it because their boards of trustees will insist on it.

Mr. McPherson. I am anxious to respond to this. First of all, at Michigan State we feel intensely that the safety of the student is a critical factor. My impression from the administrators and presidents I talk to is they feel the same. I can't tell you the number of letters I get from parents about this or that issue, and whether you like it or not, if you are the president of the university or the head of international studies programs, you end up feeling like a group of people. The students and the parents are looking to you to really do something. And safety is important.

Secondly, Mr. Amato, what is happening in study abroad in this country isn't like when you and I were students. When we saw a sign up there that advertised go study in Spain it cost three times the tuition spent now. That is what it was like when I was an undergraduate student. What places like Michigan State and some others are doing are trying to have this be much broader; just not the upper-middle-class or middle-class students. It is the average student in terms of socioeconomic background that Michigan State is going to send abroad, and that is what we need to do.

Now, as to liability, I am a lawyer. I have run big businesses. I am telling you if you aren't careful, the best way to prevent anybody from ever going to Africa or about two-thirds of Africa, or a whole section of Latin America, is to figure out how to potentially have a university liable for $25 million. They will say, London and Paris is great and we will forget about Mexico City. I mean this is the way that it would ultimately work.

Michigan State under State law is liable for gross negligence. Most other schools in most States have some degree of negligence liability. Many of these parents, I don't know about your situation, have sued, and I don't know the state of those litigations, of course. But we have got to be sure that we keep our focus on safety, and we understand this isn't something we want to kill.

Mr. Laquercia. Could I make a comment? In general, I want to caution that we have an exemplary program here. The Michigan State program sounds like it is really taking a lot of the precautions that a school should be taking. I think a question is what is the norm out there? Is Michigan State representative of these programs across the country, or is it an outlier, if you will, on the right side of the statistic? To try and get a sense of that what is the general nature and what are the outliers on the other end of that statistic?

One example that I would remark upon is the Guatemala incident that you referred to and St. Mary's College. In an interview after the incident, the president of St. Mary's College said, when we receive the police report we will also know more about whether or not this was a very isolated event or part of a trend. I think it is unacceptable that a school wouldn't know before sending students whether something like this is part of a trend or not. The fact is that a civil war ended in Guatemala not too long ago, and you have a lot of demilitarized people that have now become civilians, and they now have guns. Several years ago it was pretty common knowledge that the population was highly armed and now unemployed because they were former military, and crime was on the rise. But is St. Mary's an outlier here, or are they among the norm?

Maybe one of the suggestions or solutions might be to come up with something of a study abroad program standards board, similar to broker/dealer standards boards and bar associations, where you might be able to check on the credentials of a program or see if there have been complaints logged against it via a Web site or 800 number. When students come back and tell their parents horror stories, that information will be put up on the site, and future potential clients can review that information easily.

Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Roemer.

Mr. Roemer. I just have two questions.

Dr. Larsen, what is the major cause of injury or death in overseas programs?

Mr. Larsen. I think the major cause of student injury/death in overseas programs is traffic accidents. At least the data that I have seen covering the last 10 years would indicate that would be true.

Mr. Roemer. And what is second or third cause? Do you have any kind of listing, or an enumeration of what contributes to these problems?

Mr. Larsen. I honestly don't have that data, and data collection is something that we as a profession are trying to address. In my experience in the programs that we run around the world, the students who have been injured, and thank God we have had no deaths during my tenure at Beaver, have by and large been the victims of poor judgment on their own part, either in conjunction with operating an automobile or in conjunction with over consumption of alcohol.

Mr. Roemer. So in breaking those kinds of statistics down, in enumerating that as the number one cause of injury and death, you would also say that a majority of those deaths or injuries are due to the student and a problem or a mistake that the student makes?

Mr. Larsen. That has been our experience, yes.

Mr. Roemer. How about the tragic incidents that happened to the Schewe and Amato families? How often is the service you have subcontracted or contracted out for an airplane or a bus or transportation the result of death; not a student renting a car and having consumed too much alcohol causing their own injury or death, but a contracted second or third party?

Mr. Larsen. None of the transportation parties with whom we have contracted in the last 10 or 12 years have been involved in any kind of accident when our students have been with them.

Mr. Roemer. Do you spend a lot of time and careful attention to the detail of whom you pick and whom you select overseas? Is it an accident that you have such a good rate of preventing injury?

Mr. Larsen. My staff and I do spend a great deal of time looking at people and vetting the people that we hire, yes. We make every effort to be careful.

Mr. Roemer. Mr. McPherson, this is the last question.

Hypothetically let's say a tragedy happens to the Michigan State University swim team, and in the middle of the winter a bus skids on ice and causes some kind of catastrophic harm to the student athletes, and it turns out that there was something wrong with the bus or the bus driver and there is egregious fault. Are you liable in that kind of instance?

Mr. McPherson. In Michigan a public university is liable for gross negligence.

Mr. Roemer. What would happen hypothetically if the university contracted out to somebody overseas, a bus or an airplane, and it happened that there was something that malfunctioned in the bus, and it was very obviously the fault of that third party? Is the State University liable in that kind of instance?

Mr. McPherson. Well, you have the question of jurisdiction in which the accident occurred. But given the rise in the number of cases that are being brought, when an incident occurs in one country, and the defendant is from another, I would be quite confident that a plaintiff would probably sue Michigan University for gross negligence if the case for gross negligence can be made. I know of no circumstance like that where an action in a foreign jurisdiction gave rise to an action in Michigan, but I am certain that argument would be made.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you.

I would like to thank this panel for being here and enlightening us, and helping us gain some information. We will dismiss this panel, and we will go to our next panel. Thank you very much for being here.

Chairman Hoekstra. Let me introduce the second panel. We have Dr. Lee Fritschler, who is the Assistant Secretary, Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education. Welcome, Dr. Fritschler.

And finally, we have Ms. Dianne Andruch, who believes that her name might be of Dutch ancestry, so I know we have a great second panel here. Ms. Andruch is Managing Director for Overseas Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs,

U.S. Department of State. Welcome and thank you for being here.

We will begin with you, Dr. Fritschler.





Dr. Fritschler. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I welcome the opportunity for this discussion.

We are talking about two very important interrelated points. One is the question in my mind of how we get even more students to study abroad in the future. Mr. McPherson indicated that the number who does study abroad will probably grow to 500,000 in the next 5 or 10 years, and I think he is correct on that. But the parallel problem, or the parallel challenge, is to make sure these students study safely abroad, that we do not lose any students, and that they have, in fact, the best possible positive experience.

Let me start by adding a personal note. I was a college president for 12 years, and the worst nightmare I have ever had was when I had to call parents to inform them that their daughters or sons were killed, seriously injured, or would not be coming home. They had been involved in an accident either on campus or off campus or overseas. Those were dreadful, dreadful moments for me personally, of course, but for everyone involved.

I actually did have to contact parents whose son was killed on one of our overseas programs in Bologna, Italy in an auto accident, and I remember it was Easter Sunday morning. That is something I will never forget and I will never celebrate another Easter without remembering that tragic death of this wonderful young man from Massachusetts.

So as a teacher, a president, a father, and now even a grandfather, I am very aware of how awful it is to lose a student, to lose a son or a daughter, but especially, frankly, to lose one who is in the course of serious study somewhere in the world.

I have a prepared statement, which I have submitted for the record. I would like to add a few points to it, if I might, and I will go through my points quite quickly.

President Clinton's April 19th Memorandum on International Study was mentioned. This is a joint effort between the Department of Education and the Department of State. It implores us to work together and with other agencies to increase the number of students who study abroad, among many other things in international education. And it does provide the opportunity for us to work together on questions of study-abroad safety.

This is not a particular point mentioned in that memorandum, but I can see very clearly how we can move ahead with other departments around the government to use our data more effectively, to use our bully pulpit more effectively, and to use the dissemination of best practices more effectively to cover the problems that we have with students studying abroad.

I would like to add one additional point to the data that has been talked about here. We do have about 114,000 students now who study abroad. But only 10,000 of those students study abroad for a semester or more. That particular figure strikes me as very low, a real problem for education in the United States; we need to get it up.

We have 15 million people enrolled in colleges and universities, in the United States today. That number will probably go to 20 million in the next 5 or so years, and to think that we have only 10,000 abroad is really too few. We need to find ways to get that number improved. And, of course, we are working on it. But that simply underscores the challenge we have in making sure that those students study abroad safely.

The Department's primary role in study abroad programs is to administer the student financial assistance programs that enable students to pursue their studies in the United States and in other countries. Most Federal student financial assistance available to students under Title IV of the Higher Education Act is portable to study abroad programs. The international education grant programs that the Department administers under Title VI of the act, such as the Fulbright-Hayes grant programs, are intended to improve postsecondary teaching and research concerning other cultures and languages, the training of specialists and to improve the American public's general understanding of the peoples of other countries.

Under the provisions of the Higher Education Act, the Department has no authority at the moment to regulate or prescribe security policies and procedures employed by colleges and universities either at home or abroad. Nonetheless, the concern for the safety of American study abroad has led to the funding and support of

S-A-F-E-T-I, which stands for Safety Abroad First Educational Travel Information; a bit of a stretch to make that come out SAFETI, but the point is clear. This is a clearinghouse project supported by FIPSE. It was started about 3 years ago. It is housed at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Their mission under this program is to develop and disseminate resources to support study abroad program development and implementation, especially emphasizing issues of health and safety. And they are using a World Wide Web clearinghouse format; I have in my prepared remarks the address for them. They are making available to colleges and universities across the country the kinds of standards, which you heard about in the last session, and they are working to improve those standards and to get colleges and universities to adopt them.

They have on the Web, incidentally, a questionnaire for returning students, which asks about the safety and the level of safety they thought they experienced while traveling abroad. So far, only the schools, which are participating in this program, use that particular questionnaire and as far as I know, only one school has completed a cycle using that particular questionnaire. But it would be a useful questionnaire to be used by other schools, which send students abroad; and it too is available on the SAFETI Web site.

The Department also provides information and links to information that prepares students for safe and academically fulfilling experiences in other parts of the world. The Department's Network for Education Information Web site provides general guidance to students and educators on study abroad programs and contains links to foreign diplomatic and consular services and country-specific information provided by the State Department.

The Department's Campus Security Web site is also linked to the Department of State's travel warnings and consular information sheets for students studying abroad.

So let me make this as clear as I can: There are three huge sets of information on the Web now, relating to this issue and we have linked them together. A student who is interested in attending a college or university in the United States can tap into our COOL Web site, College Opportunity On-Line. That has on it information on every college and university in this country, their programs, all sorts of data, size of the institution, cost, application procedures, study abroad opportunities and so on. The COOL Web site is also linked, or soon will be, to our Web site where we have all of our reports from campuses on campus crime. And the third link in that Web site is the SAFETI Web site on study abroad. So a student can go in, look at the school they are interested in applying to, look at the crime statistics, look at what kinds of things they are doing abroad, and understand what sorts of programs that school subscribes to in terms of safety for study abroad.

The Department of State has other programs, which my colleague will mention in just a moment. I just wanted to tie into this conversation one other thing that we are doing. It is a more limited source of information on student safety abroad, but the campus crime statistics that institutions are now preparing and reporting to us over the Web under the amendments to the Higher Education Act are now coming in.

We have so far heard from something like 1,600 of the 6,500 institutions, which will be reporting. The deadline is October 17th for those reports. We are putting the reports up on the Web as they come in; so you can look today and find 1,600 of these campus reports, but by October 17th, we hope you will see all 6,600 of them.

There is only limited information, however, in those reports on study abroad. And the only way, as I understand it that we would have study abroad data there, safety and security data for study abroad, is if in fact a university or a college runs an overseas campus as a separate campus and they would have to report on campus crime at that location in the same way that they would do anywhere here in this country. I know that is a very difficult process for them, but it is at least a way of getting at some of the data.

Let me close by saying that I was privileged to be president of an institution, which sent about half of its students abroad every year for study. And most of those students stayed for a full year, some for a semester. The school was deeply committed to international education. Over the years, I was able to observe the professionals on college campuses all over this country who run these programs, and I certainly had a very close look at the professionals on our campus that ran those programs. I can tell you that safety is a matter of the utmost concern for them. And, of course, it is their greatest worry.

There are all sorts of guidebooks, all sorts of standards out there. Most schools subscribe to them and apply them. We, as a matter of fact, went so far as to have at each one of our sites a detailed evacuation plan, even, by the way, in the most benign countries. Our students studying in France, for example, were told at the beginning of the semester exactly where they should reconnoiter should anything happen in terms of rioting or the horrible things that can happen in France. And they would go to this place out in the countryside, and then we had arrangements with airlines to take them out of the country. We closed down a program one summer in Moscow because we were worried about the lack of safety for students there. And, as a matter of fact, we closed down a program altogether, permanently, in Colombia when it became clear that we could not provide for student safety in that country.

So schools do look at this very carefully, I think. There is no reason they cannot do more. I think they probably should. But I simply wanted to say from my own personal experience that safety of students at home and abroad is a major concern for people in higher education.

Thank you.








Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. Ms. Andruch.






Ms. Andruch. Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs regarding the safety of study abroad programs. I thank you very much for the opportunity to address this issue today.

The safety and security of American citizens abroad is our top priority. Our consular information program has long served as the Department of State's primary means of alerting the public to potential problems they may encounter in different countries. The cornerstone of this program is the Consular Information Sheet, to which Mr. Roemer alluded earlier.

This is prepared for every country in the world. Travel warnings are issued to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country, and public announcements are made when relatively short-term conditions pose significant risks to the security of American travelers.

Our home page at averages more than 250,000 hits a day or 7.5 million hits a month. We know from some of the messages we have received back from that Web site that far more than just students look at our Web site. We have hits from parents, other countries, travel agencies, and other people in the travel industry.

We also have a variety of specialized materials designed for students. We have a brand-new pamphlet called "Travel Tips for Students," which provides important information and reminders about safety. Our home page includes a feature called "Tips for Students."

In addition, in February of this year, we issued our annual "Travel Safety Information for Students" in advance of spring break. A letter accompanied this from Secretary Albright to the editors of college and university newspapers across the country. We also are working on a public service announcement to be run on college radio stations, aimed at people who might unwittingly be used to carry drugs abroad, for example.

Our embassies and consulates are encouraged to engage in annual meetings with study abroad program participants and to take other measures to reach out to students in those countries. We also raise student awareness about travel safety through our outreach program providing speakers to organizations such as NAFSA, the Center for Global Education, the American Council for International Education, and Smithsonian Study Tours. As limited resources permit, we are also making outreach visits to cities across the United States. For example, Mr. Chairman, during an outreach visit to your home State earlier this year, we met with student advisors and students at Wayne State University in Detroit.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs has joined the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in the Overseas Security Advisory Council, known as OSAC. This program has been used overseas and continues to be used mostly for American businesses, which are located in those areas, but will now be used also to link the schools in those countries. I understand that one of the first to respond to Secretary Albright's invitation to participate in this program was Michigan State.

Mr. Chairman, I would also like to highlight two examples of some innovations we developed to improve our information and services, which we hope will have a significant impact on students. This June, we established a new program pursuant to an interagency agreement with the Justice Department, designed to ensure that U.S. citizen victims of crime abroad and their families receive better services. We are also modifying our automated case tracking systems to get better information about these crimes that are being committed against Americans overseas.

American students and other citizens traveling abroad are also victims of injury and fatality as a result of road and traffic safety. Just last month, September 1st, we inaugurated a new road safety program home page feature, and we are now expanding the road safety information in our consular information sheets.

We "guesstimate," or estimate, that more than 3 million Americans reside abroad, and Americans make more than 54 million trips outside the United States each year. Most Americans have positive, memorable experiences. While unforeseen events can occur anywhere, we believe that safe, informed travel is best achieved by learning everything possible about conditions in the country that that American is planning to visit.

We encourage travel agents, foreign study programs, and also tourist and travel-related industries to inform their customers of the United States State Department Consular Information Program on travel abroad and direct them to our Web site. All U.S. citizen students studying or traveling abroad, and their families, should review carefully this information before they go to a country. We urge them constantly, in any venue possible to, do so.

They should also review our current safety and security publications and register with the U.S. embassy or consulate in that country. That is voluntary, but in order to receive the most current information, we think it is very important that they do so.

The Fulbright Program sends some 900 U.S. graduate students and graduated university students overseas annually to do research across a wide spectrum of disciplines. This occurs in over 140 countries. The vast majority of these students sponsored under the Fulbright Program are in countries with rates of crime, violence, and political instability no greater than that found in the United States. Some participants, however, do go to countries where there is potential for civil disturbances and/or violence. The Department ensures that each Fulbright grantee is familiar with the consular information program.

In the event, however, of an emergency confronting American students abroad, or their families, the Bureau of Consular Affairs here in Washington is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I will give you the phone number at 202-647-5225. Our embassies and consulates abroad are also available at any time through our duty officer program. I would like to add here, if I could, that phone number that I have just given you is also in the U.S. passport. So if someone is in trouble and cannot find any of the other many pieces of paper that they have taken with them on this particular trip, that number is readily available.

In summary, I think we are doing a good job. But I recognize the ever-increasing need to do an even better job in raising security awareness among students and other Americans who travel abroad and in working with them to prepare our young people for safe, informed travel. If even one U.S. citizen is injured or killed while traveling overseas, that is not acceptable. We cannot always control events, but we must do everything possible to prevent new tragedies from happening.

As we encourage America's children to explore foreign cultures, we must also ensure that they are well informed, know where to go for help if they need it, and be in contact with people back in the United States who can help them.

We believe that the Department's efforts to protect Americans traveling overseas have been facilitated by our ongoing dialogue with interested Members of Congress, such as yourselves and many others, and we look forward to working with you to seek opportunities for improvements in international travel information and service.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement, which summarizes my full testimony that I have provided the Committee for the record. Thank you again for the opportunity to speak to the Subcommittee today.






Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you very much.


How good is the information from the State Department and the Department of Education on conditions in areas overseas?

Ms. Andruch. If I could take a shot at that first, Mr. Chairman, I guess I am biased, but I think it is excellent. I think the thing we view as the number one responsibility and number one priority of the State Department is ensuring the safety and well being of all Americans who travel overseas.

To do this, we depend to a large extent on ambassadors and consul generals in our embassies and consulates abroad and their staffs to monitor the situation for changes that we may not always be aware of at the same time in the United States. And with that in mind, we look at our consular information program as sort of a work in progress. The Consular Information Sheet is updated whenever necessary, at the very least, once a year. But it is a continual process.

At the same time that we update our information sheet, we disseminate it to the press and to our embassies overseas. It is also immediately on the Web page. By doing that we also have a system in our embassies that we call a "warden system" whereby wardens are located throughout the country who have agreed to help facilitate our disseminating information that we think is important to the resident American community. And by putting new information on our Web site, it is also available immediately to the Americans living overseas.

So I think we are doing a pretty good job. I think that by continuing to have discussions with other people and other organizations who have the same interests, obviously, and maybe getting information from other sources, as long as we can keep talking and sharing the information, I think it will remain good.

Mr. Fritschler. We rely on the Department of State for most of the information we have and pass on about conditions overseas. I agree with my colleague that the data is very useful and very good.

Sometimes things are not as clear-cut as we would like them to be. I understand, for example, at the moment Indonesia is not on the State Department Watch list, but East Timor is. So universities, which send students to Indonesia, should tell those students not to travel to East Timor, but there would be no reason to discontinue studying in Indonesia.

This is always a question of judgment. It is always a question that well-trained professionals should look at and know how to make the right determinations about at the right time.

Chairman Hoekstra. I think it is a matter of accuracy of the information.

I am not going to ask Brett to come back to the panel, but we may follow up with some written questions as to how often Kroll Associates uses the State Department and how many layers underneath it they go as they are working with a corporate client or a university on one of these programs.

Come on up to the mike.

Mr. Laquercia. In fact, that is a specific area of my firm that I have worked with most over the years, and more often than not, it is corporations that are using this service. The corporate community avails itself greatly of these services, and thankfully for us, of the private sector services as well.

We have what the corporate community considers to be the Kroll version of the OSAC service. And the reason that they usually give for using our services is that in many cases the information that they will get from the State Department is not as current as they need. Mrs. Andruch mentions that, in some cases, reports will be updated at least once a year. That is often not good enough, or frequent enough for the community that needs the information. I think in this case, the universities often need more updated information.

Now, another point is, and correct me if I am wrong, we offer city-level advisories on approximately 300 cities all over the world. To my knowledge, there is no publicly available information that drills down to that level.

Chairman Hoekstra. I think that is one of the things that we may want to take a look at, and I think what we are talking about here, as Ms. Andruch mentioned is time and resources and dollars.

Maybe one of the things that we need take a look at is not only just students but in a global economy, businesspeople as well. There may be a need to expand the information and the timeliness of the information that the State Department has available, because it is a key resource, and it is a changing economy. Perhaps from a Congressional standpoint we haven't changed fast enough to provide you with the resources to get the information to people on a timely basis.

Ms. Andruch. I would appreciate any further dialogue or ideas and discussions on how to do this better. As you say, and I also think with globalization 10,000 students overseas in several years is not unrealistic at all.

Chairman Hoekstra. I don't think so either.

Mr. Roemer?

Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As I mentioned, in between the last panel leaving and this distinguished panel coming, to the Amato and the Schewe family, I have four children and I certainly want them to be able to study abroad. I support the study abroad programs whether we get to 10,000 or 12,000 or 15,000 students. We want our children to be able to experience different languages and different cultures and see from a different perspective what other people go through, as well as what we have in this country. And there is nothing like an experience abroad to do that.

We also want those students and those children to be safe. And as we are expanding these programs, we have got to make sure that they are doing the correct things by using Internet to give appropriate warnings to let people know about road conditions or the political conditions in a country.

I have a couple of very brief questions. I know we talked about disseminating information at the State Department. Do you ever evaluate the schools and the programs and cite weaknesses and strengths in programs? Do you ever give feedback to programs that are not doing a particular job in one area or another?

Ms. Andruch. I was nodding and was all ready to say, yes, until you finished your second question. We do evaluate the information that we get before we disseminate it. However, we do not look specifically at study programs overseas. We rely on others in the field to do that and to get back to us. Certainly, I think I am safe in saying that if there was a problem that came to the attention of the embassy, of the ambassador and his staff, because our staffs very often have children in these same schools and universities, they would share that information with us. And, yes, we would look at it and make a determination.

Mr. Roemer. You evaluate the information but you do not evaluate the specific programs that universities then implement?

Ms. Andruch. No, sir, we do not.

Mr. Roemer. Do you keep track of the number of students abroad?

Ms. Andruch. We keep track in a general way, but not precisely, because there is no requirement that students register with us. So we know generally from feedback from our embassies, because they have contacts with the schools.

Mr. Roemer. So the State Department or the Department of Education have no idea how many students are traveling or studying abroad or in what country?

Mr. Fritschler. We rely on the IIE data. That is the data that has been used all morning; the 114,000 figure and the 10,000 figure.

Mr. Roemer. You rely on it, meaning that that is not your figure? You cite it?

Mr. Fritschler. That is right. They collect that data, and they have been collecting it for 25 years.

Mr. Roemer. Should you collect that data?

Mr. Fritschler. We could do that. To some extent, it would be difficult, and we would find ourselves duplicating what they are doing.

Mr. Roemer. I am not asking you to do it. I am asking should you do it. I do not want to tell you to do something that is not in the best interest of safety.

Mr. Fritschler. There is some data we do keep on study abroad. For example, we know the numbers of students who have Title IV loans who are studying abroad, and we know where they are. We know over the past 40 years, roughly, 30,000 Fulbright students have studied abroad; and incidentally, we have had only four or five fatalities in that group.

Mr. Roemer. Do you track the number of fatalities and injuries abroad?

Mr. Fritschler. No, we do not. That would be anecdotal.

Mr. Roemer. Why is that? Is that because the Higher Education Act that cites, "Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to authorize the Secretary to require particular policies, procedures or practices by institutions of higher education with respect to campus crimes or campus security"?

Is that what was cited earlier?

Mr. Fritschler. I don't know. I am not a lawyer either.

I suppose our general counsel would tell us that is the reason we are not doing it, but by tradition we haven't been doing it either. That data is extremely hard to gather from overseas sites, to make comparable and to come up with definitions.

In this country, we rely on the Justice Department's definitions of crime. We would have nowhere to go, really, for international data.

Mr. Roemer. When a country such as East Timor or Indonesia falls into a situation where there is great political instability, what is the procedure that takes place between the two Departments to let our institutions that may have students abroad know that the country has been reclassified? Or is there no procedure?

Mr. Fritschler. We rely on the State Department to come up with that data. It is then disseminated on their Web site. It could also appear on our Web site eventually via these three interlinked sites I mentioned. But at the current time it is State Department data that goes directly to colleges and universities. We have no mechanism, no inspection service, and no people on the ground overseas.

Mr. Roemer. My question is to the State Department: Let's say they reclassify East Timor tomorrow and it goes up from a warning to an evacuation. Does the State Department then get in touch with our students, our universities, such as Indiana University, that may have a program there and say, we have reclassified this, there are significant political warnings now for that program, we wanted to let you know that? You do not know that they have got 15 students over there, but you know that they have a program. Is there any kind of communication on that, or do you simply put it on your Web site?

Ms. Andruch. No, sir, there is communication about situations first. I sort of immediately perked up when you said "evacuation," because we would never evacuate.

Mr. Roemer. I am not saying that you would evacuate a post. I was asking how would you contact students or universities?

Ms. Andruch. There is always a dialogue among offices in the State Department and the post when there is any change in the situation at all. In fact, the embassy or the consulate and the State Department are in dialogue before any sort of change in the situation is disseminated. And at that time, yes, when we know there are schools, whether there are 5 students there or 50 students there, we do that. We call any place where there are concentrations of American citizens of any type. We do contact them.

Mr. Roemer. So you do track that? You know that there are five universities that have an overseas program there, although you do not track the number of students studying abroad?

Ms. Andruch. Yes. Let me clarify. It is not necessarily the office here that would have that information readily available, but our embassies, and posts overseas do know that.

Mr. Roemer. Do you also share road safety information with these groups too?

Ms. Andruch. Yes, sir, we do. That is expanded both on our Web site and on our information sheets. It is incorporated in all of them.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you.

Mr. Laquercia. May I just follow up regarding that exact question?

Chairman Hoekstra. If you keep it brief.

Mr. Laquercia. The service that we provide to subscribers includes actually sending a daily briefing. If a warden message does come out, or a State Department warning is changed on a country, we will include that in our daily intelligence briefing and e-mail or fax it to the client. We send that each day. So that would appear and alert them to that fact, but they must subscribe to the service to get that.

Chairman Hoekstra. All right. Thank you.

It has been a very informative hearing with both panels today. I want to thank you for being here. As we have talked about this as an issue, I think that from a bipartisan basis we have a very high degree of interest in the safety of American people abroad, especially our young people that are involved in the study programs.

I am not sure where we go from here. I think we have gotten a lot of information that we now have to go through. I think we can work together on this and find the exact direction that we need to go.

Ms. Andruch. If I could just say, again, because the Bureau of Consular Affairs does have many programs concerning the well being and welfare of Americans in general, we would be happy to meet with your staffs at any time to discuss it further.

Chairman Hoekstra. Great. Thank you very much, and those are my closing comments. Mr. Roemer, do you have anything you want to add?

With that, the Subcommittee thanks all the witnesses for being here today, and the Subcommittee will be adjourned.

Whereupon, at 1:06 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.