International SOS Foundation Reveals Top Reasons for Repatriation and Evacuation in Education Sector

Students on International Travel Three Times More Likely to Need Mental Health Support than Business Travellers

LONDON--()--By 20251, eight million students are expected to be crossing borders to pursue exciting and new opportunities afforded to them through ever popular study abroad programmes. Each trip, alongside the broadening of the educational opportunity, presents potential threats. In the new white paper, ‘Managing New Risks in Higher Education’, the International SOS Foundation highlights the importance of mitigating safety, security, health and wellness risks for students, staff and faculty travelling overseas, for short or long-term study or assignments. It explores the key mobility risks and challenges faced by universities and higher education institutions as well as some of the solutions and best practices.

As part of the study, it was found that among the 13,500 cases from the educational sector worldwide that International SOS handled in 2018; 47% were in Asia Pacific, 25% in Europe, 18% in the Americas and 10% in Africa. And while Asia was the destination for only 13% of all international students’, it represented 46% of the medical cases and 37% of the security cases.

The review of cases included in the paper also uncovered the top reasons for evacuation and repatriation within travellers from the educational sector. These were:

  • 30% injuries
  • 16% gastrointestinal disease
  • 8% mental personality and psychotic illnesses, and travelling students are three times more likely to need mental health support than business travellers

Prof. Robert L. Quigley MD, SVP and Regional Medical Director, Assistance & MedAire, Americas Region at International SOS comments, “The education sector faces extraordinary and multiple challenges compared to other industries, as a result of the diverse student / employee base and the institutional culture and governance. This makes educational institutions especially vulnerable to fully mitigate foreseeable health, wellbeing and security risks of their people.”

Rajika Bandhari, international higher education expert and former Senior Advisor, Research & Strategy at the Institute of International Education, comments, “We’re finding that the field of global student mobility is undergoing tremendous shifts right now due to a variety of factors. Globally, the demand for a higher education is escalating and while some of this demand will be met by countries’ domestic institutions, other host countries also play a role in meeting this demand. At the same time, political and social shifts and restrictive immigration policies in many countries are also affecting where students will go to study.”

‘Managing New Risks in Higher Education’ is a comprehensive review and guidance paper and includes:

  • Student mobility trends and International SOS assistance cases.
  • Universities’ legal responsibilities.
  • Protecting the emotional wellbeing of students, faculty and staff.
  • Mitigating LGBTQ travel security risks.
  • Global teleconsultation services for students, faculty and staff.
  • Interviews with higher education risk practitioners from around the world, including: Bocconi University, Wintec Waikato Institute of Technology, London South Bank University, RMIT University Vietnam, Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches Global Hospitality Education – Sommet Education Group, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, University of Calgary, Singapore Institute of Management, and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

Download the report here: Click to download the Out in the World paper

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1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

About the International SOS Group of Companies

The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or security incident we provide an immediate response for peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time actionable insights and on-the-ground quality insights. We help you meet client reporting needs for good governance. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.

Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group is trusted by 11,000 organisations, including over half of the Fortune Global 500, multi-national corporate clients and mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 11,000 multi-cultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days. To protect your workforce, visit


Ashleigh Brown, Octopus Group

Suzanne Withers, International SOS
+44 (0)20 8762 8494,

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Ashleigh Brown, Octopus Group

Suzanne Withers, International SOS
+44 (0)20 8762 8494,