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International StudentsStudent conduct code

Does your School’s Conduct Code apply to you abroad?

By July 11, 2018February 22nd, 2023No Comments

Know Before You Go!

  1. Past Student Conduct Code Violations can prevent you from applying to study abroad
  2. Every school and program will have different Conduct Code rules for studying abroad – read them!
  3. Violating Conduct Codes or the law of the country can get you kicked out of your program and lead to further legal and disciplinary consequences
  4. If your program accepts federal funding, you may have to abide by some United States laws, such as Title IX.


As summer begins, many college students are packing their bags to head out on a summer or semester abroad. While this can be an exciting time, it also means many students will be in a new and unfamiliar place, which often comes with its own risks and challenges. Before you take off, you should always read up on the laws, regulations, and risks of the area you’re going to so that you’re prepared in the case that you are either the victim, or accused of committing a crime.

Before even applying to study abroad, you should know that a university is likely to restrict or prohibit a student from studying abroad if they’ve been found in violation of the Student Conduct Code. Students will also usually be required to disclose any conduct code violations or disciplinary issues you’ve had in the past. This information will be on your school’s website.

Universities often offer study abroad programs that are hosted by the University, but students also may attend programs hosted by other universities or organizations- who will each have their own conduct codes. Depending on your program, you may have to follow your university conduct code and your program’s code, in addition to any laws and regulations of the country.

While it is important to obey all laws and regulations of the country you’re in, that may not be enough to keep you out of trouble with your school. For example, even if it is legal to consume alcohol under the age of 21, if your school or program forbids it, you can still be sent home and face a disciplinary proceeding and sanctions.

Many college students may wonder; do I have to follow US laws while I’m abroad? In most cases, a traveler only has to abide by the laws in the country they’re in. But, a student traveler may face a different situation. For example, in  King v. Board of Control of Eastern Michigan University the court found that because a portion of the university’s federal funds went toward study abroad programs, students and faculty in those programs were still protected by, and had to abide by, Title IX.

The extension of Title IX to some study abroad programs is important because female college students face a significantly increased risk of experiencing sexual violence while studying abroad. In these cases, students who are victims of sexual violence abroad can still pursue protection and justice through their school’s disciplinary process. Of course, this also means that students in these programs can still be accused and potentially found responsible for acts of sexual violence, even while abroad.

Even in programs which do not abide by Title IX, sexual violence will likely be prohibited in any program’s code of conduct, and could result in being kicked out of your program and sent home.

So, when you get accepted to your favorite study abroad program and they send over dozens of forms for you to sign, read them! Whatever rules and regulations you will have to follow abroad, your program will make them available to you before you agree to them.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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