Communicating with International Programs and FERPA
The Office of International Programs (OIP) is happy to engage family members in the education abroad process, as it is important for the student to have the support of the family before, during and after their international experience. However, students must take responsibility for their experience, which includes being the point of contact for OIP and international partners. This is especially true for students participating in exchange programs, which by their nature require a greater degree of initiative, independence and autonomy. Moreover, it is important to understand that FERPA (see below) prevents OIP from discussing certain aspects of a student’s program with any third party without his/her permission.
Therefore, family and friends are encouraged to maintain open communication with the student and seek information from or through them. If needed, the student is welcome to schedule an appointment with Education Abroad staff and invite a family member or friend to attend in order to have questions answered.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that limits higher education institutions in the information they can reveal about students and grants students certain rights, including the right keep their educational records private. Under FERPA, institutions may only release “directory information” unless otherwise given permission by the student, with specific exceptions. This applies even to parents/guardians and spouses/partners.
Questions regarding FERPA may be directed to the Office of the University Registrar.
The University of Akron classifies the following as “directory information”:
- Student name
- Telephone number
- Mailing address
- Major field of study
- Extracurricular participation
- Achievements and academic awards or honors
- Years of attendance and terms enrolled
- Height and weight of members of athletic teams
The Office of International Programs cannot disclose the following:
- Student’s admissions status
- Student identification numbers
- Program related materials
- Account and billing information
- Grades and transcripts
- Medical information: before, during and after the student’s time abroad
- Housing and contact information while abroad
- Course or schedule information
- Confirmation of arrival or departure
- Other information that is not categorized as “directory information”