Student Travel and Education Abroad: Health and Safety
Responsible University Officer(s):
- Associate Vice President GPS Global Programs and Strategy
- Program Director, Global Programs and Strategy
- Kevin Dostal Dauer
The University supports and promotes international travel and education abroad by students for University purposes, while encouraging sound health, safety and security measures that minimize risks to the traveler and institution. This policy includes the minimum pre-departure requirements and minimum requirements while abroad. The education abroad office on each campus may have additional requirements.
Units Pre-Travel and Program Planning Requirements
All University units (including campuses, colleges, departments, centers, offices, or other operational units) and education abroad offices organizing or promoting student travel abroad must:
- complete a due diligence review of all programs before promoting them to University students;
- ensure appropriate contracting of partners;
- develop a 24-7 contact protocol and emergency plan;
- obtain International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC) approval before promoting any program in a United States Department of State (USDOS) Travel Warning Country;
- ensure completion of the student requirements; and
- ensure completion of faculty/staff leader requirements, where relevant.
Undergraduate travel: All University units must work through one of the University's education abroad offices prior to organizing or promoting undergraduate student travel abroad for University purposes.
All University units supporting student travel (e.g. scholarship, credit, degree requirement etc.) that they are not organizing or promoting, must:
- notify students of the student requirements listed below; and
- provide students with a 24-7 University contact information.
Education Abroad Offices
In addition to the requirements above, each education abroad office in the system must also:
- register students for USDOS Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or advise them on self registry;
- implement the student health disclosure form and process;
- implement consistent processes for any participant under the age of 18;
- implement the student behavior review and code of conduct policy/process; and
- for any program with a program leader:
- require the program leader acknowledgement form from the leader;
- implement the program leader health process;
- implement the program leader companion process; and
- ensure staff/faculty led programs have two program leaders.
Student Pre-Travel Requirements
All students must complete the following requirements in advance of this travel:
- register their travel officially with the University;
- sign a Student Release and Waiver detailing their academic, financial, behavioral, travel risk and health-related responsibilities while abroad;
- obtain University-approved international travel, health and security insurance;
- create an emergency communications plan;
- complete the mandatory online health and safety orientation; and
- address any health and safety concerns prior to departure (e.g., check-ups, immunizations).
In addition, students must discuss self-identified travel plans (international activities not promoted by the University) with an appropriate education abroad office, University faculty and/or staff member prior to confirming travel plans.
All travelers are strongly encouraged to register with the USDOS Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and review the USDOS, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) resources for their planned destination.
The University does not encourage travel to a country subject to a current travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State (USDOS Travel Warning Country).
Pre-Approval of Student Travel
Any student planning to travel for University purposes, as well as any faculty member or staff planning to lead or travel with any University students, to a USDOS Travel Warning Country must obtain approval from the International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC). Units who wish to promote an education abroad opportunity in a USDOS Travel Warning Country must receive ITRAAC approval prior to promotion. The University, in its sole discretion, may deny approval for international travel. In addition, travelers may be required to submit a request for permission to travel to locations or participate in programs that pose a specific health, safety, or security concern as indicated by authorities other than the U.S. Department of State, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), non-U.S. government authorities (e.g., Australian or Canadian authorities), and University of Minnesota authorities.
Suspension of Travel
ITRAAC will review student travel currently in process when a significant health or safety concern arises regarding that travel including new and renewed USDOS travel warnings or advisories, travel warnings from the CDC or WHO, natural disasters, wars or other political disturbances, or other indicators of potential health or safety threats. The University, in its sole discretion, may withdraw approval for international travel at any time.
Students, and faculty/staff/units traveling with students and/or organizing, promoting or supporting student programs abroad, must keep their University contact apprised of any changes to their address and contact information while abroad. Changes should be submitted as soon as possible and at a minimum within 24 hours of the change taking effect.
Students are held to Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code while abroad for University purposes in addition to any additional codes of conduct or behavior codes from the University unit organizing, promoting or supporting travel, education abroad office, affiliate or host.
Students are not permitted to drive motor vehicles (including but not limited to scooters, motorbikes, motorcycles and cars) while participating in an education abroad opportunity.
Faculty and staff may not drive vehicles in which students are passengers abroad without an approved exception from the Office of Risk Management in advance of departure from the U.S. Faculty and staff who need transportation for students must either use public transportation or hire a local driver/vehicle.
Travel in Violation of this Policy
Students who choose to travel in violation of this policy are acting outside the control and responsibility of the University. If the travel is occurring during a required term, the student must take a leave of absence from the University, where possible. Students on leave of absence from the University are not eligible for financial aid, scholarship, travel stipends and other University supports including credit. If a leave of absence is not an option, students who travel in violation of this policy risk losing their student status.
This policy does not apply to personal, non-University travel by students. For information on reimbursement for travel and faculty and staff travel requirements, see Administrative Policy: Traveling on University Business.
REASON FOR POLICY
This policy endeavors to support education abroad by balancing the educational value of participation in international activities with the potential risks to the welfare and safety of students.
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- Education abroad/University purpose travel
- Travel by students (both for credit and not for credit) that is affiliated with the University in any way. This includes, but is not limited to:
- travel through one of the University's education abroad offices sponsored or affiliated programs;
- travel through unit organized or promoted education abroad programs or activities.
- travel to a University or unit exchange partner;
- travel as part of, or in support of, a University research activity;
- travel for University credit;
- travel that fulfills a degree requirement (including internships, field studies, service learning, research);
- travel that fulfills University contractual agreements;
- professional development opportunities promoted by or supported by any University unit (including conference attendance);
- travel for which you are acting as a representative of the University;
- travel for University athletics;
- travel supported by University funding including grant awards, scholarships, informal financial awards and financial aid;
- travel with, or organized by, a University faculty or staff member; and
- travel with a University Campus Life Program.
Students traveling abroad for University purposes, including education abroad, are held to this policy within the dates of their activity. Thus, they must follow this policy for any weekend or overnight travel taken during the activity. See definition of non-University travel below for more information on when this policy does not apply.
- Campus Life Program
- A University program similar to a student organization in purpose and composition but whose activities, operations, and decision-making processes are directly governed by University academic or administrative departments, and for which the University is ultimately responsible. A CLP is considered part of the University and is required to have a designated University faculty or staff advisor. University Recognized Organizations (URO) at Morris and Recognized Student Groups (RSG) at Rochester are treated like CLPs for the purpose of this policy.
- Faculty and staff
- Full and part-time faculty, including adjunct faculty and staff employees at the University. Graduate assistantship appointments and other appointments that require student status are not considered employees for the purpose of this policy. Where faculty and staff are also taking classes, they are faculty/staff when traveling for work and a student when traveling for education/coursework.
- International travel
- Travel to any country (including Mexico and Canada) or territory outside the continental U.S. (CONUS), Alaska and Hawaii. Travel to the non-contiguous US locations of American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island are considered international travel for purposes of this policy and CISI insurance purposes.
- International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC)
- Committee responsible for reviewing all proposed student travel to USDOS Travel Warning Countries and other locations that pose a specific health, safety, or security concern as indicated by authorities other than the U.S. Department of State, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), non-U.S. government authorities (e.g., Australian or Canadian authorities), and University of Minnesota authorities. Committee has University-wide jurisdiction and its decisions apply uniformly to all campuses. Composed of the Associate Vice President and Dean for International Programs (Chair), the General Counsel, the Associate Dean of Graduate Education, and the Vice President for Clinical Affairs (officials may delegate their responsibilities to others within their areas of authority and consult other administrators, faculty and experts as they choose). The Dean of the School of Public Health will serve on the committee whenever a decision is being considered to cancel or suspend an education abroad opportunity for public health reasons.
- Non-University travel
- Travel that is not related to the University in anyway. This means travel that is not in support of University business, programs or education and for which the University assumes no control or responsibility, and therefore this policy does not apply. Examples include:
- Registered Student Organization travel (see definition below) that is not otherwise funded or supported by the University (see Education abroad/University purpose travel above);
- Personal travel such as vacation;
- Personal travel before or after a University/education abroad activity.
- Registered Student Organization (RSO)
- A voluntary association composed primarily of students that has no direct relationship to the University; but upon completion of the established registration process is entitled to certain privileges including operating, meeting, advertising, and participating in activities on the University of Minnesota campuses, as well as eligibility to receive services from the University. Also referred to as an Independent Student Group (Morris) and Non-Recognized Student Organization (Rochester).
- Sponsored or Affiliated Programs through Education Abroad Offices
- Sponsored programs are study abroad experiences developed, administered and evaluated by an education abroad office. Affiliated programs are administered by other institutions/organizations and approved by the University (students will receive support and services from the education abroad office, and credits will be posted as resident credit).
- Any undergraduate, graduate or professional student enrolled in a degree program, credit bearing non-degree program, professional certificate or executive education program at the University. Students traveling as part of assigned duties within an assistantship are considered students and not employees for the purpose of this policy.
- A campus, college, department, program, research center, institute, business center, office or other operating unit.
- Unit Organized or Promoted Travel
- Student travel or education abroad activities organized or promoted by a University unit. This includes programs for the unit administers directly as well as any education abroad opportunities administered outside the University for which a University staff or faculty member has promoted to students (via email, word of mouth, print, etc.). Units are required to comply with the Procedure: Preparing for Student Travel and Education Abroad (Units) and, for all undergraduate student travel abroad, work through one of the University's education abroad offices.
- Unit Supported Travel
- Student travel or education abroad activities NOT organized or promoted by a University unit but supported by a unit by providing funding, offering credit, fulfilling a degree requirement, etc. Units are required to notify students of the student requirements in this policy and provide students with a 24-7 University emergency contact.
- U.S. Department of State (USDOS) Travel Warning Country
- A country subject to a current travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State. Travel warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions make a country dangerous or unstable and lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A travel warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff. See list of countries subject to a travel warning at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html.
- Associate Vice President and Dean for International Programs
- Promotes the global dimensions of teaching, research, and engagement across all colleges and campuses of the University. Chair the International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC).
- Director of International Health, Safety and Compliance, GPS Alliance
- Provide background information on specific health and safety risks and participate in the decision whether to cancel or suspend education abroad opportunities. Call a meeting of the International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC). Notify unit and/or program directors when an educational opportunity has been suspended or canceled by the committee and when ITRAAC approves applications to travel to a USDOS Travel Warning Country or other locations that pose a specific health, safety, or security concern as indicated by authorities other than the U.S. Department of State, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), non-U.S. government authorities (e.g., Australian or Canadian authorities), and University of Minnesota authorities. A member of the director's staff will provide assistance to ITRAAC applicants and facilitate ITRAAC reviews of applications.
- Education abroad offices
- Ensure compliance with University policy for all programs and activities they support. Serve as a resource to units, faculty and staff planning international activities.
- The following are the education abroad offices:
- Export Controls Officer and Designated Cuba Representative
- Reviews and approves proposed student travel to embargoed countries and works with travelers to apply for any licenses needed for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. Advises on any restrictions that may apply during travel to embargoed countries.
- Faculty, staff and unit organizing or promoting travel and/or leading student travel abroad
- Ensure compliance with University policy before and during organizing or promoting travel or leading student travel abroad.
- International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC)
- Determine when to cancel or suspend education abroad opportunities because of significant health or safety risks to students at any time. In the members' absence, appoint alternates to serve on the ITRAAC. Make exceptions to suspension of education abroad opportunities and approve applications for travel to USDOS Travel Warning Countries or other locations that pose a specific health, safety, or security concern as indicated by authorities other than the U.S. Department of State, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), non-U.S. government authorities (e.g., Australian or Canadian authorities), and University of Minnesota authorities on a case-by-case basis.
- Office of General Counsel (OGC)
- Create and approve the student release and waiver. Serve on the International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC). Work with the International Health, Safety and Compliance Director to review mandatory health and safety orientation, assist faculty and staff with related questions and resources while abroad.
- Office of Risk Management (ORM)
- Regularly review and approve the University's mandatory international travel, health and security insurance. Work with the International Health, Safety and Compliance Director to review mandatory health and safety orientation, assist faculty and staff with related questions and resources while abroad.
- Purchasing/Travel Services
- Advises University faculty and staff on appropriate contracting procedures for activities involving travel or purchasing. Assists those traveling for University purposes on a variety of travel items. Ensures the integrity, accountability, and efficiency of purchasing processes.
- Complete the requirements detailed in this policy and procedures before departure on international travel. Take independent measures to promote one's own safety, the safety of fellow travelers and the safety of the broader University community including consulting with experts on the region of travel, as appropriate. Abide by the University Student Code of Conduct while abroad.
Board of Regents Policies
- Export Controls
- Leave of Absence and Readmission for Undergraduates: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester
- Leave of Absence and Reinstatement from a Leave: Graduate Students
- Purchasing a Professional Service
- Traveling on University Business
- Global Programs and Strategy Alliance
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Overseas Security Advisory Counsel (OSAC)
- U.S. Department of State-Travel Warnings
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- October 2014 - 1. Adds the involvement of the collegiate dean(s) in any situation where ITRAAC is considering a rejection (or request to delay travel) of an application submitted by a graduate student. 2. Explicitly notes the role of the Vice President for Academic Affairs when consensus cannot be reached. 3. Standardizes processes carried out the education abroad offices across the University system. 4. Clarifies the pre-travel and program planning requirements for units and students. 5. Adds a new requirement that units may not promote or organize an education abroad opportunity for undergraduates unless they work through an education abroad office. Title changed from Education Abroad Opportunities: Addressing Health and Safety Risks to Student Travel and Education Abroad: Health and Safety
- January 2009 - Statement and Responsibilities clarified, Updated Contacts section, Updated procedures, and added Appendix: International Insurance Eligibility Requirements.
- January 2007 - Statement, definitions and responsibilities and procedures rewritten.
- February 2004
- Policy published publicly
- April 2005