Journal of College and University Law
In recent decades, the number of foreign programs operated by American colleges and universities has greatly expanded. Until recently, there were few reported cases involving claims arising from foreign educational ventures. However, the increase in international study abroad programs has been paralleled by an increase in tort claims. Additionally, because of the tendency of tort cases to be settled, the number of unreported cases, based on harm to students participating in study abroad programs, may be considerably larger than what appears in legal research databases.
Given the high cost of potential litigation, a program provider has no choice but to devote their attention and resources to managing and understanding the potential risks of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. In managing these risks, American program providers should not strive to make a foreign educational experience the same as studying in the United States, but should simply take reasonable precautions to minimize the foreseeable risks of harm to program participants. Perhaps the single most important factor in minimizing the risk of legal liability associated with these study abroad programs lies in the field of personnel decisions, rather than legal principles.
Vincent R. Johnson, Americans Abroad: International Educational Programs and Tort Liability, 32 J.C. & U.L. 309 (2006).