PROV-010: Student International Travel

Date: 10/05/2015 Status: Final
Last Revised: 10/17/2017
Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To: All students at the University and faculty and staff who advise them.
Reason for Policy:

The University of Virginia recognizes the importance of international experiences and aspires to provide students with the mindset, skills, and tools that will help them to become leaders of their chosen professions in the global society of the 21st century. To this end, the goal of this policy is to support the University’s broad menu of education abroad opportunities by promoting the health, safety, and security of students who are traveling abroad for University-related purposes.

The University recognizes that there are times and places where personal health, safety, and security issues may outweigh the advantages of exposure to international experiences and may consequently place restrictions on travel or prohibit travel to a location due to concerns about health, safety, and/or security.

Policy Summary:

This policy applies to all students traveling outside of the national borders of the United States for University-related purposes, which may include but are not limited to study, research, internships, service, conferences, presentations, teaching, performances, recruiting, or athletic competitions. University-related purposes include any travel that is for academic credit and/or utilizes University resources. Schools and units may have additional policies and procedures that support this overall policy. Unless noted otherwise, all aspects of this policy also apply to Graduate Medical Education (GME) trainees.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Conditions of Participation and Assumption of Risk:

    A written statement provided to students and GME trainees in advance of international travel that explains the extent and limits of University responsibility, defines expectations for student and GME trainee behavior when undertaking travel for University related purposes, and articulates associated risks. As part of entering their information into the University Travel Registry, students and GME trainees are required to sign this statement to acknowledge that they understand the conditions of participation and their assumption of risk.

  • Crisis Management Plan for Education Abroad:

    University protocol that serves as the basis for crisis management readiness and response for UVA education abroad programs for program directors, administrators, faculty, and staff. Published and maintained by the International Studies Office, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Risk Management Committee for Education Abroad.

  • Expert Sources and Resources:

    Include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Department of State Resources for Travelers, U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Peace Corps, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the University’s providers of international health and emergency assistance services, foreign governments, local partners and contacts, and faculty and staff with regional expertise.

  • Graduate Medical Education (GME) Trainee:

    An individual who is employed by the University of Virginia Medical Center as a trainee in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited or non-ACGME accredited post-graduate training program.

  • Group Travel Involving Students:

    UVA faculty-led study abroad programs and travel of groups for University-related purposes led/organized by UVA faculty, staff, or students.

  • Individual Student Travel:

    Includes, but is not limited to, study, research, internships, service, conferences, presentations, teaching, performances, or athletic competitions.

  • Risk Management Committee for Education Abroad:

    Members include the vice provost for global affairs and representatives from the Office of University Counsel, Office of Property & Liability Risk Management, Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, International Studies Office, Elson Student Health Center, Office of the Dean of Students, Office of the Vice President for Research, and at least three members of the faculty from schools with a particularly high level of student travel abroad programs, who each serve three-year terms.

  • Site and Itinerary Review:

    Review for alignment with the University’s health, safety, and security standards that may lead to requirements for further planning, limits on, or, in some cases, deferral or cancellation of travel.

  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP):

    A travel registry administered by the U.S. Department of State that automatically distributes country-specific information, Travel Alerts and Warnings, fact sheets, and emergency messages to registrants. STEP also helps the Department of State better assist travelers in the event of an emergency.

  • Student:

    An individual who either has been admitted to a degree or certificate program at the University or has received permission to enroll and is registered for coursework (including credit or non-credit) at the University during any given academic session (including fall or spring semesters, Summer Session, or January Term). 

  • Travel Abroad Health and Emergency Assistance Insurance:

    Insurance that provides coverage for health care costs incurred overseas and that provides: (1) medical evacuation, (2) security evacuation, (3) repatriation of remains, and (4) emergency assistance. The required aggregate minimum coverage is determined by the Office of Property & Liability Risk Management, the Risk Management Committee for Education Abroad, and the Office of University Counsel.

  • Travel Registry:

    A confidential and secure database for maintaining key travel information about students traveling for University-related purposes. The travel registry is the official and authoritative source of traveler information that forms the basis for the University’s emergency response protocols and communications strategy (e.g., alerts, warnings, evacuation notices) when responding to an emergency or critical incident abroad. The International Studies Office is responsible for the overall management of the travel registry, though other offices have input and access to the registry for rapid response purposes.

  • Travel Warnings:

    The U.S. Department of State’s strongest advisory that is issued when the Department, based on all relevant information, decides to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country.

  • University Travel Restrictions:

    A restriction on student or Graduate Medical Education (GME) trainee travel issued by the International Studies Office (ISO) under direction of the vice provost for global affairs and published on the ISO website. A University Travel Restriction may limit student or GME trainee travel to a region or prohibit student or GME trainee travel to the region. See the policy statement below for a list of the types of situations that could result in the issuance of a University Travel Restriction.

Policy Statement:

This policy outlines University requirements for students traveling outside of the national borders of the United States for University-related purposes, which may include but are not limited to study, research, internships, service, conferences, presentations, teaching, performances, recruiting, or athletic competitions. University-related purposes include any travel that is for academic credit and/or utilizes University resources. Schools and units may have additional policies and procedures that support this overall policy. Individuals planning and leading group travel activities that will involve students must also adhere to this policy.

The vice provost for global affairs is responsible for implementing this policy and acts as the University’s representative in all matters discussed in this policy.

  1. Minimum Requirements for Students Traveling Abroad:
    All students and Graduate Medical Education (GME) trainees traveling abroad for University-related purposes must register their international travel in the University Travel Registry before the expected departure date and, if possible, should update the travel registry as additional information becomes available or changes occur throughout the duration of the trip, including additional countries added during travel.

    Students traveling abroad for University-related purposes individually or as part of a University-organized group are required to:

    1. meet the eligibility requirements of their school of enrollment for education abroad (generally good academic and disciplinary standing);
    2. enter their travel information in the University’s Travel Registry;
    3. purchase a policy with the University's designated health and emergency assistance insurance provider;
    4. affirm that they have read, understand, and agree to the University’s Conditions of Participation and Acceptance of Risk for international travel;
    5. enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if a U.S. citizen; and
    6. avoid travel to nations or regions within nations under a Travel Warning issued by either the U.S. Department of State Travel or the Center for Disease Control(CDC) or a travel restriction issued by the University unless granted an exemption (see procedures for petitioning for an exemption below).

    GME trainees must meet requirements b. – f. (above) and secure approval for their planned travel for university related purposes from their program director and GME Committee.

  2. Group Travel:
    Faculty members planning to lead a credit-bearing education abroad program or include a travel-abroad component in an on-Grounds course must follow the guidelines for program development established by the International Studies Office (ISO) for undergraduate options and the guidelines of their school in cooperation with ISO in the case of graduate programs. Faculty leaders and program staff are responsible for complying with best practices for health, safety, and security planning for pre-departure orientation, during the trip, and post-trip return (See Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad posted on the ISO web site.).

    Those proposing non-credit bearing forms of group international travel involving students for University-related purposes must consult ISO at least 12 weeks prior to departure and before making any travel related purchases to review the planning process, travel resources, and minimum University requirements for students traveling abroad.

  3. Site and Itinerary Review for Group Travel:
    All plans and destinations for student group travel abroad for University-related purposes are subject to review and approval by the sponsoring school/business unit, the ISO, and, when deemed necessary by the ISO or the vice provost for global affairs, the Risk Management Committee for Education Abroad.

    Plans must align with the University’s health, safety, and security standards, which include attention to U.S. Department of State and CDC recommendations. Itineraries should be re-assessed two weeks pre-departure by the ISO or, in the case of graduate programs, the sponsoring school. Material changes in health, safety, and security conditions will require a review by the Risk Management Committee for Education Abroad with input solicited from the sponsor of the group travel, ISO, and expert sources. In such situations, the vice provost for global affairs may require itinerary revisions or cancellation of the travel. The vice provost for global affairs will consult as appropriate with the president, the executive vice president and provost, and the executive vice president and chief operating officer. All decisions on the part of the vice provost for global affairs are final. (See Section 4 for a list of situations that could qualify as material changes in health, safety, and security conditions.)

  4. U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings, Centers for Disease Control Travel Warnings, and University Travel Restrictions:
    The University may limit how, when, and where University students may travel abroad for University-related purposes, taking into consideration issues of terrorism, war, disease, and other risks. The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) periodically post advisories called “Travel Warnings” for countries or regions within countries that they deem to be unsafe for Americans. The University observes all Travel Warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State and the CDC and prohibits student travel for University-related purposes to regions under a Travel Warning unless exempted according to the petition process described in Section 6.

    In the event of incidents or conditions that may threaten the well-being of students, employees, or the University, the University may, after due deliberation, also issue a University Travel Restriction, which limits or prohibits travel to areas not under a U.S. Department of State or CDC Travel Warning. University Travel Restrictions may be issued and student travel to a region restricted when any of the following or similar circumstances occur in or near the region:

  • civil unrest/violent public protests are common;
  • martial law is declared;
  • a curfew is imposed;
  • telecommunications networks, the internet, and/or social media are substantially limited or shut down; 
  • restrictions are placed on the movement of local citizens and/or U.S. government personnel and/or dependents;
  • an advisory to defer non-essential travel is issued;
  • U.S. nationals are advised to evacuate;
  • the Peace Corps closes or reduces operations due to health, safety, or security concerns;
  • a U.S. Consular or host government; Security or Emergency Message is issued;
  • exposure to serious communicable disease is likely;
  • health care resources are limited and/or compromised;
  • strict health care protocols, which may include mandatory quarantine, are instituted;
  • serious crime (assault/battery and robbery) and/or violent crime is common or on the rise;
  • local government has limited ability to respond effectively to a natural disaster;
  • basic commodities and resources such as rice and electricity are insufficient; or
  • other expert sources and resources identify substantive risk.

University Travel Restrictions will be issued by the vice provost for global affairs, in consultation with the Education Abroad Risk Management Committee; the dean and involved faculty members from schools with programs in the affected locale, region, or country; the Office of University Counsel; as appropriate and feasible, program directors, hosts, and/or providers in the affected areas; expert sources; and, as appropriate, with the president, the executive vice president and provost and the executive vice president and chief operating officer.

All current University Travel Restrictions will be posted, along with Travel Warnings, on ISO’s website. University Travel Restrictions will be reviewed at least quarterly and sooner if there is a material change in health, safety and security conditions.

Travel Warnings and University Travel Restrictions apply to students or GME trainees of any nationality in the country or region during the period of time that such a Travel Warning or University Travel Restriction is in effect unless exempted according to the petition process described below.

No University student or GME trainee is permitted to embark on travel for University-related purposes in the affected locale, region, or country under the Travel Warning or University Travel Restriction as long as the Warning or Restriction is in effect unless exempted according to the petition process described below in Section 6.

In the event that a Travel Warning or University Travel Restriction is issued while a University program is in progress in an affected area, the vice provost for global affairs will decide whether or not to terminate the program and, if so, under what conditions, with the guidance and direction of the Education Abroad Risk Management Committee, the school (in the case of graduate programs), and the program director, host and/or provider. If a student is participating in a non-University study abroad program, decisions to terminate travel will be made by the host institution/program provider.

If an evacuation or departure order is issued by the U.S. Department of State, the host country, or the emergency insurance provider, students or GME trainees will be expected to evacuate under that entity’s direction. Students and GME trainees are responsible for informing themselves of appropriate refund policies for their program or trip, should the program or trip be suspended or cancelled due to the issuance of a Travel Warning or University Travel Restriction.

  1. Crisis Management and Response:
    Crisis response procedures are provided in the Crisis Management Plan for Education Abroad, available through ISO. University faculty, students, and staff are expected to follow these procedures. These procedures should also be employed to assist individual student travelers.

  2. Petitioning for Exemptions:
    1. Individual Student Travel - Graduate Medical Education Trainees:
      GME Trainees must petition for an exemption to travel to a country or region under a Travel Warning or a University Travel Restriction if they cannot complete a comparable clinical elective or research project anywhere else in the world and it is deemed essential to their training. Such travel must first be approved by their program director and the GME Committee (See GME POLICY 33, International Electives) who will assess the elective or project for educational merit. If approved, the subsequent petition must include written justification and the approval of their faculty advisor and department chair. As part of the petition, GME Trainees must acknowledge the risks associated with the elected travel to the area and sign the High-Risk Travel Waiver/Release, assuming all risk and releasing the University from any future liability for their personal choice.

      Petitions should be addressed to ISO and will be reviewed by the Education Abroad Risk Management Committee and the vice provost for global affairs. The decision of the vice provost for global affairs will be final. The decision will be communicated to the GME Trainee, the program director, faculty advisor, the department chair, and the Designated Institutional Official by email.

    2. Individual Student Travel - Undergraduate Students:
      Undergraduate students who want to participate in a non-University study abroad program in a country or region under a Travel Warning or a University Travel Restriction must submit a Petition for Program Approval through the online study abroad application process (managed by ISO). As part of the petition, students must acknowledge the risks associated with the elected travel to the area and sign the High Risk Travel Waiver/Release Form, assuming all risks and releasing the University from any future liability for their personal choice.

      ISO reviews petitions from undergraduate students on the same basis as any other petition for approval of an outside (non-University) program. This includes review of the academic merits of the program, student support services, and administrative processes, including emergency/risk management. The decision of ISO is final and communicated to the petitioning student by e-mail. If the petition is approved, the student must complete the required study abroad processes administered by ISO.

      Generally, only petitions from undergraduate students to join an established study abroad program will be considered. On rare occasions, a petition from an undergraduate student to travel to a country under a Travel Warning or a University Travel Restriction for another University-related purpose will be considered. Petitions from undergraduate students to undertake independent travel for University-related purposes will be held to extraordinary standards before approval is granted.

      Petitions should be addressed to ISO and will be reviewed by the Education Abroad Risk Management Committee and the vice provost for global affairs. The vice provost for global affairs will consult as appropriate with the president, the executive vice president and provost, and the executive vice president and chief operating officer. The decision of the vice provost for global affairs will be final. The decision will be communicated to the student, the student’s advisor, and the student’s dean by e-mail.

    3. Group Travel Abroad Involving Students:
      Faculty members may petition for an exemption to lead a study abroad program or travel component of a class to a country or region under a Travel Warning or a University Travel Restriction. Written justification along with the approval of the faculty member’s department chair and school dean must be included with the petition. Petitions should be addressed to ISO and will be reviewed by the Education Abroad Risk Management Committee and the vice provost for global affairs. Except in case of emergency, deans and involved faculty members will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns and share information with the vice provost and the committee as part of the committee’s review of the petition. The vice provost for global affairs will take into account the faculty members’ or school’s experience in or knowledge of the area subject to restriction. The vice provost for global affairs will consult as appropriate with the president, the executive vice president and provost, and the executive vice president and chief operating officer. The decision of the vice provost for global affairs will be final and will be communicated to the faculty member and dean via e-mail.

      All students who join an approved program or travel component of a class must acknowledge the risks associated with the elected travel to the area and sign the High-Risk Travel Waiver/Release Form, assuming all risk and releasing the University from any future liability for their personal choice.

Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Next Scheduled Review: 12/05/2019
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 10/05/2015
Revision History: Revised 11/14/17, 10/17/17, 12/5/16, 8/31/16.
Supersedes (previous policy):
PROV-010, Travel Abroad Warning for University Students