Preparing for Student Travel and Education Abroad (Units)
All University units organizing or promoting student travel and education abroad for University purposes are required to complete the steps below. If the students are undergraduates, units must work through one of the education abroad offices before the program is promoted. The goal of the process is to balance the number and variety of student opportunities offered by the University with both the quality and safety of those opportunities.
- Complete a due diligence review of all programs before promoting them to University students.
Due diligence reviews will be conducted in compliance with best practices in the field of education abroad, including those sanctioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Forum on Education Abroad. The unit will document the processes used and the results of the review. Core questions and assistance are available from the education abroad offices and the Director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance.
- Ensure appropriate contracting with partners.
Units who are contracting or hiring services abroad will follow Administrative Policies: Traveling on University Business and Purchasing a Professional Service, depending on the nature of the service. GPS Alliance, in partnership with campus experts, provides Guidance on International Contracting and individual assistance.
- Develop a 24-7 contact protocol and emergency plan.
Units will create an emergency plan that includes 24-7 contacts as well as the process for handling overseas emergencies. The 24-7 contact list will include at least two U.S.-based University contacts and redundancies for each contact (e.g., office, cell, and home numbers). 24-7 contact details and program emergency plans will be shared with each student prior to departure.
Faculty and staff traveling with students must be reasonably available to students 24-7 for the term of the program.
Units, faculty and staff who agree to be a 24-7 contact for students must be prepared. Individuals may consult with the Director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance in developing 24-7 contact and emergency plans.
In the event of an emergency, the Director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance, or delegate, is available 24-7 to support unit, faculty, and staff in responding. Detailed contact information is provided to units, faculty, and staff upon pre-departure consultation and is not to be provided directly to student travelers.
Units are also required to follow all other relevant University policies, including, but not limited to, Administrative Policy: Safety of Minors, Administrative Policy: Export Controls, and Administrative Policy: Traveling on University Business.
- Obtain ITRAAC approval before promoting any program in a U.S. Department of State (USDOS) Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory location.
Details and instructions are available in Administrative Procedure: Travel Approval (ITRAAC).
- Ensure completion of student requirements before any student travels abroad for University purposes.
If a unit, staff, or faculty member is working through an education abroad office, that education abroad office will assist the unit in ensuring that the student requirements are complete. If an individual faculty or staff member is leading a program or traveling with students without working through an education abroad office, the unit, faculty, or staff has the responsibility for ensuring that the student requirements are completed prior to departure through GPS Alliance. The student requirements are detailed in the Procedure: Preparing for Education Abroad (Students).
- Ensure completion of faculty/staff leader requirements.
Where the program involves a faculty or staff leader who will travel with the students, the unit will contact the appropriate education abroad office at least one year in advance. Faculty or staff leading an undergraduate program abroad must run the program through an education abroad office.
The responsible unit must monitor the completion of the program-leader training for all faculty and staff leaders. The training will cover the risk, safety, and security aspects of traveling as a University representative with students and will include necessary health, safety, and liability information, such as FERPA guidelines, legal considerations, emergency planning, and crisis management. This training will be facilitated for faculty and staff working through an education abroad office. Other faculty and staff leading student programs abroad will complete the training with GPS Alliance by contacting the Director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance.
Units must also monitor the receipt of University-approved mandatory international travel, health, and security insurance through the University for all faculty and staff leaders. The education abroad office will facilitate completion of the faculty or staff insurance application for all programs that education abroad office manages. If faculty and/or staff are traveling with students independent of an education abroad office, they must apply for the insurance directly with GPS Alliance.
- Implement a system for gathering and accessing independent student travel information during program dates (if applicable) so that program leaders or University staff can contact students in an emergency.
At all times during any education abroad program, program leaders and/or University staff should have information on any participant overnight travel away from the current host city. This would include at least the location of the travel, the dates of the travel, and viable contact information for any/all student travelers. This information should be stored securely and shared, if necessary, with appropriate University staff/units in an emergency.
A sample template tracking form is available: UM 1895 - Notification of Travel During Education Abroad Program.
Additional Requirements of Education Abroad Offices
In addition to the requirements above, each education abroad office in the system must do the following for all programs it runs or supports:
- Register students for the USDOS Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or advise them on self-registry.
Each education abroad office will register students (and program leader, if applicable) as a group or advise students on individual self-registry for the free STEP service through the U.S. Department of State. STEP allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which facilitates the delivery of timely messages regarding safety conditions in country and can help the U.S. Embassy contact citizens in the event of an emergency. Education abroad office will guide students who are not U.S. citizens to register their trip with their local home country Embassy.
- Implement the student health disclosure form and process.
Each education abroad office will ensure all students complete the student health disclosure form after the initial application decision is made for a program (e.g., acceptance or nomination) and prior to departure. Past or current treatment for health conditions does not preclude a student from participation in a program.
The information will be used by appropriately trained education abroad office professionals, using standard processes, to assist student, education abroad office, on-site staff, and program leader to make any necessary preparations and be advised of any health considerations. Student health information will remain confidential.
- Implement consistent processes for any participant under the age of 18.
Each education abroad office will follow Administrative Policy: Safety of Minors and implement appropriate processes in accordance with the policy and in consultation with the Director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance.
- Implement the student behavior review and Code of Conduct policy/process.
Each education abroad office will review existing conduct records for students with the office(s) on their campus responsible for Board of Regents Policy: Code of Conduct. On the Twin Cities campus, this includes records with both the Office for Community Standards and Housing and Residential Life, for example. Following a receipt of these records, University staff will follow a standard process for working with students who have a serious code of conduct violation, in coordination with the Director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance.
When students are abroad, the education abroad offices will follow a consistent process for managing student behavior incidents and Code of Conduct violations, which will include consultation with and referrals to the University office(s) responsible for Board of Regents Policy: Code of Conduct.
- For any program with a program leader, the education abroad offices will:
- Require the program leader acknowledgement form from the leader;
All program leaders must sign the Program Leader Acknowledgment Form, which delineates the leader's responsibilities and risks of travel, and return the form to their education abroad office prior to departure.
- Implement the program leader health process;
All program leaders will be provided with the essential functions of the job and encouraged to discuss any concerns regarding their ability to perform these functions with their education abroad office. Should a program leader need to request special accommodations for their program, the education abroad office, the corresponding disability services office, and on-site partners will work together to assist in appropriate planning and reasonable accommodations to facilitate support in program implementation and emergency response. Program leader health information will remain confidential.
- Implement the program leader companion process;
Each education abroad office will make it clear to the faculty and staff leading programs abroad that only the official program leader(s)/assistant(s) and students fully enrolled in the program are allowed to participate in education abroad program activities. In the rare case of exceptions, each education abroad office will implement a consistent program leader companion process, including the collection of the Companion Information Form and Companion Acknowledgement and Waiver.
- Ensure staff/faculty-led programs have a) two program leaders; OR b) one program leader with onsite partner who has agreed and is able to provide program support
Faculty/staff-led programs must have two program leaders who are adequately trained to support the student program. At least one of the program leaders must be a University staff or faculty member. The second program leader, where reasonable, need not be University staff or faculty. Where the program is supported throughout by a trusted and contracted University affiliate, the affiliate may serve as the second program leader if they explicitly accept the role. The second program leader must be able to assume the responsibilities of the first program leader should the situation require. Undergraduate students may not serve in the role of program leader.
- Require the program leader acknowledgement form from the leader;
The consistent documents and processes outlined above will be developed and modified for all education abroad offices across the system in partnership with the Director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance who will receive the required approvals from the Office of General Counsel and other campus experts.