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Report: Toughen Study Abroad Safety Reporting Requirements

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota colleges should be required to disclose when their students are victims of sexual assaults or other crimes while studying abroad, a state report said.

The Office of Higher Education recommends expanding a law passed last year that requires postsecondary institutions to report annually whether any of their students got sick or died on study abroad trips. It says including sexual assaults, robberies and other incidents in those disclosures will better inform students and parents.

The office expects to have the first wave of data from colleges and universities available to the public by January. The Secretary of State's office will also report the best available information on crimes committed against students studying abroad.

Maren Gelle Henderson, a legislative liaison for the higher education office, said it may be best to wait for that first round of data before changing the law.

American students are studying abroad at more than three times the rate they did 20 years ago, according to the Institute of International Education. About 9,000 enrolled in study abroad programs through Minnesota colleges and universities in the 2012-2013 school year.

Minnesota's reporting law is the first of its kind in the nation, according to the Office of Higher Education.

But adding sexual assaults to the list of incidents schools must disclose could backfire, said Jodi Malmgren, director of International and Off-Campus Studies at St. Olaf College. Students may not report an incident if they know it will be included in public data, she said.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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