University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Student Governance and Policies

Student Policies

Chapter 211



Student International Travel Policy




1.  Introduction

The University of Washington offers, supports and facilitates a wide variety of opportunities for student engagement abroad, including foreign study programs, international exchanges, research and service learning opportunities, and international internships. Student health, safety, and security are top priorities for the University. This policy is administered by the University’s Office of Global Affairs and establishes certain health and safety-related requirements and measures intended to minimize undue risks to University students engaged in international activities.

The University is committed to offering a diverse set of international opportunities for students. However, the University reserves the right to cancel or alter any international program or activity when, based on a review of the relevant information and resources, it is determined that there is undue risk to the health and safety of students in a particular locale.

2.  Scope

This policy applies to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree-seeking students from all three University campuses participating in official University-sponsored international travel and activities, which include:

  • University-administered study abroad and international exchange programs;

  • Research, internship and/or service learning activities that are funded or sponsored by the University or for which students are receiving pre-arranged University academic credit;

  • University-funded or sponsored participation in international meetings and conferences; and

  • Bonderman Fellowship travel and activities abroad.

Travel and activities abroad that are not funded, sponsored, administered, arranged, or approved by the University are not considered official University international educational activities. Examples include: travel arranged independently by a student for which the student receives no University funding support and no pre-arranged University academic credit; travel arranged by or facilitated through University student groups (including Registered Student Organizations); volunteer projects or activities not formally affiliated with the University; and travel funded by fellowships, grants, or scholarships that are not administered by the University. Students participating in such non-University international travel and activities abroad are considered independent travelers, are solely responsible for their health and safety while abroad, and may not receive University assistance and support in the case of emergency.

3.  Roles

  A. Office of Global Affairs (OGA)

OGA oversees many of the University’s numerous global activities, including UW study abroad programs and international exchanges for University students and faculty. OGA also provides support for University-sponsored international research and centers. Finally, OGA maintains the UW International Travel Registry, where students (as well as faculty and staff) can register their locations and contact information while participating in official University-sponsored international travel and activities. Such information may be used in the event of an emergency to help locate University travelers and communicate emergency information.

  B. Global Travel Security Manager (GTSM)

The GTSM, who is an OGA staff member, supports the welfare and safety of University students, faculty, and staff traveling in connection with official University-sponsored international activities. The GTSM serves as the University’s initial point of contact for international emergencies and coordinates the University response. The GTSM is also responsible for managing the UW travel registry and, in consultation with the International Travel Risk Assessment and Safety Committee, the Travel Warning Waiver review process.

  C. UW Study Abroad (UWSA)

As a unit of OGA, UWSA facilitates international educational opportunities for University students through a wide variety of programming, such as faculty-led study abroad programs and international exchanges, which are offered in collaboration with many academic units and student service offices. UWSA also offers study abroad advising services, oversees the student registration process for many University-sponsored international educational opportunities, and provides orientation programming for students and faculty. UWSA staff also provides backup support to the GTSM.

  D. International Travel Risk Assessment and Safety Committee (ITRASC)

ITRASC is an advisory committee to the Provost and chaired by the Vice Provost for Global Affairs that helps OGA assess travel risks and reviews requests for Travel Warning Waivers, allowing student travel to countries under travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In addition, ITRASC advises the Provost on managing other health, safety, and security risks abroad.

4.  Restrictions on Travel to High Risk Destinations and Travel Warning Waivers

  A. Policy on Travel to High Risk Destinations

University students participating in official University-sponsored international educational activities are not authorized to travel to or in countries subject to active travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), or otherwise determined by ITRASC to be high risk travel, unless a Travel Warning Waiver for the travel has been approved by the Provost (or Provost’s designee). Students who travel to countries under a travel warning or to other high-risk destinations (as determined by ITRASC) in violation of this policy will be considered independent travelers, and may not receive University support or assistance in the event of an emergency.

  B. Rationale and the Travel Warning Waiver Process

Travel warnings are issued by the U.S. Department of State and the CDC so that travelers can carefully consider the risks associated with travel to a specific country. Reasons for issuing travel warnings might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, a high risk of terrorist attacks, and extreme health concerns. Travel warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some remain in effect for years.

The University recognizes that travel warnings may be specific to a particular area of a country and that there may be exceptionally compelling academic reasons for a student wanting to travel to a country that is subject to a travel warning (or to a country determined by the University to be a high risk destination). In such a case, a student may submit a request for approval to travel to such location in connection with an official University-sponsored international educational activity through the Travel Warning Waiver review process.

Student requests for a Travel Warning Waiver will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. (Travel Warning Waiver requests may also be submitted by University faculty or staff in connection with international travel or research programs involving multiple students. Students participating in a program that has received a programmatic waiver obtained by University faculty or staff do not need to apply for an individual waiver.)

To initiate the Travel Warning Waiver review process, a waiver application, available on the OGA website, should be submitted at least 45 days prior to the desired departure date. Shorter notice of travel will be considered under exceptional circumstances. The GTSM or another OGA official may request additional information beyond that provided on the application. The waiver application will be reviewed by ITRASC and the waiver must be approved by the Provost before travel to the country begins. Unless otherwise indicated, an approved waiver applies to the specified trip only. Subsequent desired travel to the same destination requires subsequent waivers if a travel warning remains in effect.

If, during the course of an official University-sponsored international activity, a travel warning is issued relating to the location of that activity (or if the University determines that the location of the activity has otherwise become a high risk destination), the University may cancel or alter the activity as it deems necessary to protect the health and safety of participating students.

5.  Registering Student Travel with the Office of Global Affairs

  A. Policy on Registering with the Office of Global Affairs

All students participating in official University-sponsored international travel and activities are required to follow University procedures for registering their travel with OGA prior to their departure. The registration process for student travel differs based upon length of time abroad and type of academic activity involved. Information about how to register travel is available from OGA. Students who fail to register their international travel in accordance with this policy may not receive University assistance in case of emergency.

  B. Rationale for Registration

OGA’s global travel security management protocols include maintaining a global travel registry, 24/7 global emergency support, assistance in pre-departure emergency planning and preparedness, liaising with international insurance providers, providing training and information on emerging health, safety, and security risks and best risk-management practices. These services are intended to support students’ health and safety abroad. The global travel registry assists University students, faculty, and staff in preparation before and during international travel. It is not an approval process.

6.  Student Insurance Abroad

  A. Policy on Student Insurance

Students traveling abroad in connection with official University-sponsored international educational activities must purchase (and maintain for the duration of their official University activities abroad) comprehensive international medical and emergency assistance and evacuation insurance. Students are required to purchase the UW Student Abroad Insurance Plan unless they receive a waiver of this requirement based upon proof of equivalent coverage. Students must provide OGA proof of UW Student Abroad Insurance (or alternative insurance with an approved waiver) prior to traveling abroad. Students who fail to purchase and/or maintain required insurance may not be permitted to participate (or to continue participating) in their University-sponsored international program or activity.

  B. Rationale and Implementation

The UW Student Abroad Insurance Plan is administered by a preferred insurance provider and managed by the Office of Risk Services and Compliance, ensuring that students traveling abroad have at least basic insurance. Coverage under the UW Student Abroad Plan is required (absent a waiver) because a strong, working relationship between the University and the insurance provider better enables support for students during an emergency.

Students with personal insurance that provides equivalent coverage to the UW Student Abroad Plan can petition for an insurance waiver. OGA manages this waiver process and will approve waivers only for alternate insurance plans that are equal to, or greater than, the coverage provided by the UW Student Abroad Insurance Plan. Special consideration may be given for international students returning to their home country for study.

7.  Additional Information

For additional information concerning this policy, contact the Global Travel Security Manager, Office of Global Affairs.

For campus-specific assistance, see the following units:

AP, March 22, 2017; RC, April 13, 2017.