The recent terror attacks on Brussels and Lahore have once again raised safety concerns for the inhabitants, especially international students. For many overseas study aspirants, the question of selection of course and college has been pushed to the second slot, as the first slot comes to be increasingly occupied by one repetitive question – are we safe from terror attacks abroad?
It is a pity that violence caused to politico-religious factors has come to affect the sacred institution of education. No matter where the attack is, students and youngsters are bound to get hit during the proceedings. The very recent Brussels attacks leaves tens of people dead, and hundreds injured, some of which from the Vanderbilt University (Tennessee). Attacks on a Kenyan university and, in another incident, a Pakistani University has posed severe security threats for both national and international students. In Australia, there were around 152 reported attacks on Indian students, in 2009 alone.
International students are soft targets for fundamentalist terrorist organizations, and also local vandalism groups. The agenda is simple and two-fold – create panic in both the attacked country, as well as the home country of the attacked students.
Security and safety concerns are certain to take front seat whenever overseas students are targeted in any terror attack. This may affect student mobility, posing a great threat to international studies.
What can be done to ensure a safer international study environment?
Generally, it should be on the checklist of a country’s agenda to ensure safety of international students first and foremost, but small, informed steps on the students’ part can be beneficial too.
Research. Look for universities that have been deemed the safest around the world. Use reliable sources for this. Moreover, check the history of terror and vandalism attacks in and around the place you’ll be living and studying.
Check the country’s safety policy and police ratings. Look for in-campus hate crimes against foreign students, and university’s reactive policy.
Similar community residence. If crimes against a particular race/group are on the high in a country, look for people of your own community, and rent a space where they are in majority. Often there are minority community colonies, where a student can easily get an accommodation.
Talk to the university and voice your concerns. While deciding on an university, if possible, talk to the university about your safety concerns and give it a go-ahead only after receiving a satisfactory answer.
Protect yourself. Learning some basic self defense training and keeping up to date about safety tips may be helpful in protecting a student from local groups at least.
Thus, terror attacks are on the rise, and raise pertinent questions for an aspirant, but with a little awareness and information, your international study experience can be mad more safe and productive.