Risks And Liabilities Associated With Study Abroad Programs In Higher Education: A Case Study Of Maryland
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Not much appears to be known about practices colleges and universities can put in place to minimize risks and liabilities in study abroad, nor studies conducted that fully elucidate the risks and liabilities involved in study abroad for students, coordinators of study abroad, and institutions of higher education. A major component of this study was analysis of study abroad waivers from Maryland two- and four-year institutions, with the researcher's eye towards commonalities, strengths, and weaknesses of these waivers. This study sought to assess risks and liabilities that emanated out of institutional negligence directly associated with study abroad practices, policies, and procedures. Qualitative methods were incorporated in the form of a case study, drawing on multiple sources of data, including juridical texts, institutional study abroad program waiver forms, individual interviews with study abroad coordinators and International Education directors, and a complementary survey administered to selected study abroad coordinators. Triangulation techniques were used to gather and analyze data. Grand tour research questions were: (a) "From the voice of study abroad coordinators in Maryland, how can risks and liabilities in study abroad programs be minimized?" and (b) "Based on content analyses, how do juridical texts, institutional waivers, and other institutional documents offer ways to help minimize risks and liabilities in Maryland higher education study abroad programs?" Sub-set research questions were based on tort related risks, perspectives of state study abroad coordinators, and institutional waivers that impacted Maryland higher education study abroad programs. Major findings of the study revealed that institutional waivers were inefficient and successful in averting risks and liabilities in study abroad, depending upon variables which included duty of care by program supervisors, design of institutional waivers, and quality of educational materials and orientation sessions. Based on these findings, 11 major themes emerged--a confluence of 84 categories that Atlas.ti software helped to identify. The major recommendations are presented with (a) a model waiver provided in Chapter V, resulting from findings, and constructed with the best practices in mind for minimizing risks and liability in study abroad, and (b) three broad and seven explicit recommendations for best practices to avert risks and liability in study abroad, which are based on findings in this study.