Student Travel and Education Abroad
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the policy different on various campuses?
No, the policy governs all University-purpose travel by undergraduate, graduate and professional students across the 5-campus system. All colleges, departments, programs, research centers, institutes, business centers, offices or other operating units, including education abroad offices are subject to this policy. However, the education abroad offices on each campus may have additional requirements beyond those in this policy.
- What are the differences as to the application of this policy to undergraduate and graduate/professional students?
From the perspective of student responsibilities, there is no difference between undergraduates, professional or graduate students. There is also no difference in the requirements where a unit is supporting student travel they did not organize or promote.
Where units are promoting or organizing programs, there is only one difference in unit requirements depending on student type: if the students are undergraduates, units must work through one of the education abroad offices before the program is promoted. Regardless of student type and whether a unit is working with an education abroad office, the other unit requirements remain the same.
- If I am an international student and/or traveling to my home country am I subject to this policy?
Yes, all students, regardless of origin, traveling for University purposes are required to satisfy the student requirements detailed in the policy. All students, including International students, traveling abroad for personal reasons are not subject to this policy.
- How does the policy apply if I am both University staff and a student?
Where faculty and staff are also taking classes, they are faculty/staff when traveling for work and a student when traveling for their education/coursework. Travel as part of a graduate assistantship appointment or other appointment that requires student status are considered student travel and therefore governed by this policy.
- Is travel through a University student group covered by the policy?
There are two types of University student groups: Campus Life Programs (CLP) and Registered Student Organizations (RSO). A CLP's activities, operations, and decision-making processes are directly governed by University academic or administrative departments. University Recognized Organizations at Morris and Recognized Student Groups at Rochester are treated like CLPs for the purpose of this policy. RSOs have no direct relationship with the University and are also referred to as Independent Student Group (Morris) and Non-Recognized Student Organization (Rochester).
Students traveling with a CLP must comply with this policy. Students traveling with a RSO are not subject to this policy unless the student(s):
- will fulfill a University requirement (credit or not) while traveling,
- will use University funds to participate, or
- are relying on the supports of a University unit, faculty or staff member to organize, fund or prepare for the activity.
- Is travel to a U.S. territory considered international travel? What about Alaska and Hawaii? Mexico and Canada?
Travel to any country (including Mexico and Canada) or territory outside the continental U.S. (such as American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island) is considered international travel for purposes of this policy. Travel to Alaska and Hawaii is not considered international travel.
- Whom do I contact in an emergency while abroad?
Students and faculty/staff traveling with students should follow the procedures detailed in the emergency communications plan created and reviewed prior to departure. The primary and first contact will be the onsite program staff or faculty/staff program leader. However, a student should use their best judgment as to whether police or emergency medical staff need to be contacted immediately. The 24-7 contact at the University should also be notified of any medical situation, incident or emergency abroad. It is extremely important to be familiar with the procedures and contacts listed in the emergency communications plan for your program or independent travel as communications procedures may differ based on situation.
Other parties should also follow the communications procedures found in the emergency communication plan, which will include a 24-7 emergency contact in the office, unit, or college supporting/sponsoring the activity abroad. If the travel is facilitated through an education abroad office, it will be able to assist in the event of an emergency.
The Director of International Health, Safety and Compliance, or designate, will be available 24-7 to support the education abroad offices and units in responding to emergencies and assuring appropriate tracking of incident data.
- Can I opt out of the mandatory travel health and security insurance while traveling for University purposes?
Insurance application and opt-out waivers are managed either through an education abroad office or as part of the travel registration process. Exceptions are unlikely. Regardless of whether or not the insurance is waived, travelers still must complete the other requirements of this policy.
- Are there countries to which students cannot travel or that follow a different procedure than seeking ITRAAC approval for travel to a USDOS Travel Warning Country?
Yes, all students (as well as faculty and staff) traveling to embargoed countries must consult with the University’s Export Controls Officer and Designated Cuba Representative prior to departure to learn whether travel is permitted for their proposed purpose, any special government licenses are required, and to understand if there are any restrictions on items you may wish to bring along. Embargoed countries are countries to which U.S. law significantly restricts travel and exports. As of January 1, 2014 embargoed countries include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan (North), and Syria.
Students will be automatically connected to the Export Controls Officer and Designated Cuba Representative upon registration of their travel; however, students are encouraged to contact their directly as soon as they begin contemplating travel to an embargoed country as travel may be restricted or require licenses that take several months to secure. All currently embargoed countries are also subject to a USDOS travel warning, so students or faculty/staff/units facilitating student travel are also required to follow Administrative Procedure: Travel Approval (ITRAAC).
Additionally, the University will not authorize student travel to any country for which the State Department has issued a mandatory evacuation order. ITRAAC reviews current and potential student travel when a significant health or safety concern arises regarding that travel. The University, in its sole discretion, may deny or withdraw approval for international travel at any time.
- Why does the University regulate student travel to USDOS Travel Warning Countries?
The University regulates student travel to USDOS Travel Warning Countries, and other locations that may pose a specific health, safety, or security concern as indicated by authorities including 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. Most U.S. institutions regulate student travel using the same standards.
The goal of regulating student travel to such locations is to assure preparation and risk mitigation approaches to minimize health and safety risks of students traveling internationally. The goal is not to evaluate the academic merits of an opportunity. Instead, the process takes the student, advisor and Dean’s word as to the academic merit of any experience and considers only the risks and mitigation plans. The Provost monitors committee discussions with an eye toward academic freedom. The Provost will also make a final decision regarding travel approval should consensus amongst Committee members not be reached.
- What are the consequences if a student travels without following this policy and procedures?
If a student travels without following this policy and required procedures, the student is no longer traveling for University purposes and is not a representative of the University. If traveling 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, scholarships, 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.
Faculty or staff taking or accompanying students abroad or supporting student travel abroad in violation of this policy will not be acting within the scope of their employment and may not receive the legal protection provided to state employees acting within the scope of employement under Minnesota law. Further, violations of this and other University policies by staff and faculty are a violation of Board of Regents Policy: Code of Conduct.