Information Sheet: Title IX Compliance for Study Abroad Programs

As a result of campaigning and intense press coverage, the reach of federal laws like Title IX and the Clery Act is growing. Formal complaints, investigations and lawsuits are increasing, which means that universities face greater reputational and financial risk than ever before.

Not just US-based campuses must comply – foreign-based programs run by US universities must do so too. Title IX covers "any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." Courts have interpreted this to include universities' study abroad programs. In 2014, the University of Connecticut settled a Title IX lawsuit for $1.3m. One of the plaintiffs was sexually assaulted during her year abroad in Grenada, Spain.

The realities of studying abroad mean students can be at greater risk of experiencing sexual assault and harassment. They don’t know local norms or have friends who can guide them. A 2013 study found that the risk of rape is five times higher during a semester abroad than it is during a semester on campus.1

The realities of studying abroad mean students can be at greater risk of experiencing sexual assault and harassment. They don’t know local norms or have friends who can guide them. A 2013 study found that the risk of rape is five times higher during a semester abroad than it is during a semester on campus.

If you’re running a foreign study program for a US university, how can you improve your compliance and protect your students?

  1. Reporting obligations: many officials are obliged by law to report incidents of sexual violence to their superiors. These staff need to be identified and trained.
  2. Investigations: programs are expected to abide by standards of timeliness and communication with the student whose complaint is investigated.
  3. Disciplinary processes: programs need to have processes in place to discipline students, which must be both fair and effective.
  4. Interim measures: programs are expected to support students who have faced sexual violence, and should have procedures in place to provide this support.
  5. Clery Act obligations: programs are obliged to make public incidents of violent crime that occur on campus, and should train staff in how to carry out this requirement.

 

How can we help you comply?

Our expert attorneys are experienced in Title IX and the Clery Act, and are able to support your compliance efforts through a number of services, including:

  • Policies: Our attorneys will conduct a thorough review of your program's policies and make recommendations to ensure compliance with relevant federal laws.
  • Staff Training: we can provide comprehensive training for your program staff to ensure that they are aware of their obligations and able to deal effectively with complaints.
  • Student Training: we can provide training for your students to prepare them for a new culture and explain what action to take if they experience discrimination or sexual violence.

 

For more information, contact one of our attorneys at info@mcolaw.com or call 020 7386 1047.


1 Study abroad increases risk for sexual assault in female undergraduates: A preliminary report. Kimble, Matthew; Flack Jr., William F.; Burbridge, Emily Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Vol 5(5), Sep 2013, 426-430.