College Student Rights Abroad

What We Defend

Each year, hundreds of thousands of students at American universities study abroad. There are many benefits to studying abroad: new experiences, cross-cultural education, broadened research opportunities. But one potential downside that students must carefully consider is the possibility that their destination country could operate under very different rules regarding freedom of expression. Because of the differing legal environments between nations, both students and their universities must navigate difficult questions about whether it is safe, legal, or wise to engage in expression about religion, politics, gender, sexuality, protest, or other sensitive issues abroad. FIRE found that even some American universities, including the entire University of California system, maintain policies that sharply limit students’ overseas speech and raise questions about how academic institutions should handle conflicts between American expressive rights and repressive policies overseas.

Woman on phone waiting to board plane

Learn More About Your Rights Abroad

Home & Abroad Pledge

While universities’ partnerships can provide benefits to students and faculty, they can also pose serious threats to the expressive rights of academic communities — especially partnerships with governments that severely restrict or punish speech. Now is the time for universities to reassess existing partnerships and plan ahead for future agreements.

Read the Pledge