Host tips #3: What to do if a student doesn’t arrive?

So, it’s the Sunday afternoon. Your student is due to arrive, you have been given the flight arrival time of 2pm, left it a few hours to allow the student time to pass through the queues at customs, collect their bags etc, but it is now 5:30pm and there is still no sign of your student. What do you do next? 
There are 101 possible reasons as to why your student has not arrived yet, and over the years we have probably heard them all! The first advice we can give is DO NOT PANIC! We have had students miss their planes, miss a connecting flight, people unable to leave their boyfriends/girlfriends, even someone who broke their leg just after arriving at the airport. 
In truth there is not too much we will be able to tell you on the Sunday by calling the emergency phone. The reason for the delay or potential cancellation does not usually become clear until we can do some serious investigating when we return to the office on Monday. This usually involves some calls between us, the school, the agent in the home country until in the end, we track down the student who missed their connection and had to spend the night sleeping on a chair at LAX. 🙂 
The main consideration for you and the staff answering our emergency call will be ‘is there a safeguarding issue here?’ with the focus being on the student’s age and level of independence. For example, a 35-year-old man from France participating in an internship would be considered a low risk, while a 16-year-old student from China who would likely have little or no experience of travelling independently, would be considered high risk, therefore, a serious safeguarding issue. This is because the 16-year-old is under 18 and therefore clearly falls into the category of being ‘a child or vulnerable adult’. This student is not only a child, they are travelling from a country that is very detached and culturally different than their own and will, therefore, need to be located as soon as possible. In reality, as it is a requirement for under 18’s to have airport transfers organised, it is highly unlikely they will be wandering the streets of London alone. It is much more likely there is an issue with their flight e.g. they missed the flight or it is delayed. However, we would have to establish what has happened to them at the earliest opportunity. This might involve us calling their school’s emergency number and/or contacting their agent.  
While although you might be able to argue the French intern is a ‘vulnerable adult’, he is well over 18, responsible for his own welfare and is from a country which is geographically close to the UK and shares a similar culture. Therefore, it is a more sensible approach to handle the situation on Monday when our office and his agent’s office re-opens after the weekend.
However, if you are in any doubt at all, please call us, but please also understand that is highly unlikely we will have any immediate information at hand, as if we had known of an issue or had some information, it is highly likely we would have already called you. We will establish if there is a safeguarding issue and take action accordingly. You can contact us on any of the mobile numbers listed on the booking confirmation (this is preferable for emergencies), you can also email us (we do check the emails regularly out of hours and over weekends) or send a text by SMS. We will investigate and get back to you as soon as possible. As a host, your responsibility for the student’s welfare is just to inform us they have not arrived. From there, we will take action and let you know as soon as possible once we are able to track down the student (within reason, don’t worry we will not call you at 2 am!) 🙂

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