Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 2710: Study-Abroad Health and Safety
Date Originally Issued: 10-01-2011
Subject to Change Without Notice
Authorized by Regents' Policy 2.4 "Diversity and Campus Climate"
Process Owner: Deputy Provost, Academic Affairs
The University of New Mexico (UNM) is committed to offering a wide variety of study-abroad opportunities. Although safety is always a prime concern of the University for all its students, faculty, staff, and visitors, there are risks that are unique to international settings, and when incidents occur, the impact on participants and their families is often more profound because of the unfamiliarity of the context and the distance that separates participants from their primary sources of support. Therefore, UNM has established policies, procedures, and processes specifically applicable to the study-abroad programs described herein to minimize risks and provide effective means for addressing incidents should they arise.
This policy applies to all UNM-sponsored study-abroad trips (Trips) sponsored and organized by any department at UNM, which are defined as Trips outside the United States that are led by one or more UNM faculty members or others who are officially appointed by UNM as the instructor of record or on-site program director (Trip Leaders). Although this policy applies to Trips that UNM co-sponsors with other universities and organizations, it will need to be applied in conjunction with any related agreements, policies, procedures, accrediting-body rules, or research-sponsor requirements. The Policy does not apply to:
- study-abroad Trips sponsored and organized by non-UNM educational institutions or third-party providers;
- UNM Continuing Education international Trips organized by third-party tour guides; or
- Trips abroad organized by UNM student organizations.
2. Study-Abroad Advisory Committee
The Study-Abroad Advisory Committee membership consists of the Chair appointed by the President of the Faculty Senate, one student and one faculty member appointed by the Committee Chair, a Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) representative, a Health Sciences representative, the Director of the Office of International Programs and Studies (OIPS) or designee, the Director of the Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII) or designee, the Director of Safety and Risk Services (SRS) or designee, an Industrial Security Department (ISD) representative, and the University Counsel or designee, as legal advisor.
The Study-Abroad Advisory Committee is responsible for:
- developing procedures as needed for implementation of this policy;
- coordinating the duties and responsibilities of SHAC, OIPS, LAII, SRS, and ISD to ensure Trip Leaders are provided with appropriate training;
- advising the applicable dean as needed concerning approval of Trips that comply with all applicable UNM Study-Abroad Health and Safety Recommendations posted on the OIPS website;
- advising the applicable dean concerning modifications to or cancellations of Trips before or after departure when warranted by emergencies or health and safety concerns raised by U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts or Travel Warnings, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) Travel Health Warnings, or by other sources of information that the Committee reasonably deems reliable;
- evaluating requests for exemptions pursuant to Section 3. herein and providing related advice to the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost or designee;
- proposing changes to Recommendations as warranted by evolving circumstances that affect Trips covered by this policy; and
- developing its own meeting schedule and internal operating procedures as needed.
3. Approval and Registration of Trips
All Trips must be approved in advance, in writing by the applicable dean. The Trip Leader must register the Trip with OIPS and the U.S. Department of State “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” (STEP). STEP is a free service for U.S. citizens who are traveling or living abroad that enables the U.S. Department of State provide the latest travel updates and information, and to assist in an emergency.
UNM will not offer or support Trips whose dates and destinations are or become subject to a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning or a CDCP Travel Health Warning, unless special circumstances justify an exemption or a Trip is already in progress. The Provost or designee will decide whether or not to grant an exemption in consultation with the Study-Abroad Advisory Committee based on the following factors:
- nature of the Travel Warning or Travel Health Warning, including the locations most impacted;
- feasibility of postponing the Trip until the Warning may be lifted;
- experience and training of program organizers and local support staff;
- importance and academic relevance of student involvement;
- what the program will do to minimize risk to Trip participants;
- the extent of safety and security orientations provided by UNM;
- participants’ informed consent on the “Acknowledgement of Risk and Conditions of Participation” form and any Trip-specific appendix to the form despite the Travel Warning or Travel Health Warning; and
- such other information, if any, that the Provost or Study-Abroad Advisory Committee reasonably deems material and relevant to the evaluation.
3.1. Modified and/or Cancelled Trips
If a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning or CDCP Travel Health Warning covering Trip dates and destinations is issued for the applicable country(ies) before a Trip begins, and no exemption is granted, the Trip shall be modified or cancelled. If the Trip is modified or exempted, all participants shall have an opportunity to withdraw. If a Warning covering Trip dates and destinations is issued after the Trip begins, the Trip Leader shall promptly provide the Warning to all participants and give them an opportunity to withdraw. If a Trip is cancelled or exempted after it has begun or a student withdraws because of a Warning or an exemption, the dean or department chair will arrange for affected students to complete their coursework. Applicable refunds will be determined on a Trip-specific basis to the extent that funds can be recovered from the various vendors and service providers.
4. Trip Leader and Participant Responsibilities
To minimize risks and provide effective means for addressing incidents should they arise, Trip Leaders and participants must comply with all requirements in this Policy. In addition, participants should follow all Study-Abroad Health & Safety Recommendations applicable to their Trip, which will vary depending on the type of Trip, the destination(s), duration, activities, and other factors. Trip Leaders will determine which Recommendations are applicable, and will so inform participants at the related orientation session. SHAC, OIPS, LAII, SRS, and ISD can assist Trip Leaders as needed in making this determination.
4.1. Trip Insurance
Trip Leaders and participants are required to purchase health and accident insurance at least at UNM-recommended coverage levels, including medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. Such coverage can be purchased on the SRS Website at a very reasonable cost. The OIPS website provides specific information on recommended coverage levels.
4.2. Trip Participants
Trip Leaders will inform participants of applicable requirements, forms, Recommendations, and related information. Participants must read all Trip materials and understand any risks specific to each Trip listed in an appendix to the “Acknowledgement of Risk and Conditions of Participation” form, if applicable. Participants are responsible for attending all Trip orientation sessions, providing all requested information completely and accurately, submitting required forms, and complying with all applicable requirements and Recommendations. Failure to provide requested information completely and accurately may be grounds for disqualification to participate. Detailed immunization requirements and/or Recommendations, and country-specific health and behavioral concerns will vary depending on the type of Trip, the destination(s), duration, activities, and other factors.
4.3. Trip Leaders Pre-Departure Health & Safety
All Trip Leaders must attend UNM training coordinated and approved by the Study-Abroad Advisory Committee. Trained Trip Leaders will understand their duties to participants and will learn to identify and respond appropriately to emergencies, conduct issues, and health and safety issues while abroad. Trip Leaders must comply with all UNM health and safety requirements posted on the OIPS website, and must review the “Acknowledgement of Risk and Conditions of Participation” form and add an appendix as needed that describes any Trip-specific risks or conditions. Trip Leaders should apply for an International Travel P-card from the UNM Purchasing Department at least thirty (30) calendar days before departure.
UNM Trip Leaders are responsible for organizing, with assistance from SHAC, OIPS, LAII, SRS, and ISD advisors, one or more orientation sessions that provide health and safety information so participants can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation, and conduct while they are on a Trip. Trip Leaders must take abroad and safeguard all emergency contact information for each participant, and provide copies of this information to their home department, OIPS, and SRS. Trip Leaders must keep participants’ health information confidential. Trip Leaders are responsible for staying current on any pertinent U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, and CDCP Travel Health Warnings, and sharing that information with all Trip participants on a timely basis.
4.4. Trip Leaders On-Site Health, Safety and Communication
While abroad Trip Leaders are responsible for ensuring that Trip participants are aware of communication, health, and safety procedures, including but not limited to, emergency numbers of on-site providers, local telephone numbers for emergencies, contact information for all pertinent U.S. Embassies and Consulates, and instructions on optimal local communication procedures. Should an emergency arise for which a Trip Leader needs advice/assistance from UNM, the Trip Leader should call the UNM Police.
Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost or designee in advance in writing.