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Sixteen faculty-led study abroad program professors awarded UTSA Travel Grants

Sixteen UTSA professors are able to lower the costs of their summer 2016 faculty-led programs thanks to a $1,000 travel grant offered by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Initiatives. generic image for travel story
These professors, who will lead ten different education abroad experiences...

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Policy on Travel to Restricted Regions

Concern for the ongoing safety of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). The University supports and encourages international travel, collaborations, and recognizes that a global perspective is a critical component of its academic mission. Also, UTSA realizes that some areas of the world present heightened health and safety risks.

To minimize health and safety risks, UTSA has adopted the UTSA Travel Procedures to Restricted Regions to govern student, faculty, and staff travel for university related activities abroad. The International Oversight Committee (IOC) administers these procedures under the direction of its chair, the Vice Provost for International Initiatives and Senior International Officer (Vice Provost).

RESTRICTED REGION TRAVEL FORMS


THE INTERNATIONAL OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE


The IOC is appointed by the UTSA President. The Vice Provost is the Chairperson for the IOC, and reports  directly to the Provost. The IOC develops policies and formulates guidelines intended to help maintain the  health and safety of UTSA students, faculty, and staff traveling internationally on university-related programs and travel. The IOC is also charged with gathering information and assessing risk-levels in regions with significant health or safety concerns where University-related programs and travel may take place.

The IOC meets at least once each semester (or more frequently, if required) to review, discuss, and make  changes (if necessary) to the policies, guidelines, and procedures governing UTSA travel to restricted regions. A newly endorsed UTSA Travel Procedures to Restricted Regions will be issued by the IOC at the beginning of each academic year, following the first Fall Semester IOC meeting.

 

TRAVEL GOVERNED BY THESE PROCEDURES


The Travel Policy to Restricted Regions applies to:

  • UTSA faculty and staff traveling internationally (with or without University funding) to conduct University business within one's capacity as a faculty or staff member, such as participation in research, conferences or teaching endeavors.
  • UTSA graduate and undergraduate students, traveling internationally as individuals or in groups (with or without University funding) for any officially sponsored UTSA activity or program. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • official study abroad programs
    • conducting research
    • internships
    • field studies
    • service learning for academic credit
    • conferences
    • volunteer, experiential, or work programs sponsored, endorsed, or administered by the University
  • Officially sponsored UTSA events and programs (with or without University funding) including, but not limited to: study abroad programs, conferences and seminars, and class field trips, regardless of UTSA student, faculty, or staff participation.
     

Note: These guidelines do not apply to, or include either personal or vacation travel that is unaffiliated with UTSA.

 

UTSA RESTRICTED REGIONS LIST


The IOC reviews and approves a UTSA Restricted Regions List of locations worldwide that potentially pose travel risk.

UTSA students, faculty, and staff are not authorized to participate in UTSA sponsored international activities in locations on the Restricted Regions List unless an exception is approved through the IOC process.

No UTSA student, faculty, or staff can be required to travel to a location on the Restricted Regions List.

The Restricted Regions List includes, but is not limited to:

The Restricted Regions List is monitored regularly and may be updated by the IOC whenever specific conditions warrant. The entire list is reviewed for currency on at least a quarterly basis. The absence or exclusion of a country from the UTSA Restricted Regions List does not indicate or provide assurance that a location is safe or without international travel risk.

Locations on the Restricted Regions List are evaluated for risk and assigned to a category as described below:

Category 1 – Extreme Risk

  • All travel requests to Category 1 locations will be reviewed by the full IOC Committee.
  • UTSA students are not allowed to travel to a Category 1 location on any officially sponsored UTSA activity or program as described above.

Category 2 – High Risk

  • Exceptions to Category 2 travel restrictions may be recommended for approval by the IOC or its delegate for faculty, staff, and graduate students traveling on university-related programs.
  • UTSA undergraduate students are not allowed to travel to a Category 2 location on any officially sponsored UTSA activity or program as described above.

Category 3 – Medium Risk

  • Exceptions to Category 3 travel restrictions may be recommended for approval by the IOC for faculty, staff, and students traveling on university-related programs.

Category 4 – Variable Risk

  • Faculty and staff are allowed to travel to Category 4 locations without requesting an exception.
  • Exceptions to Category 4 travel restrictions may be recommended for approval by the IOC for undergraduate and graduate students traveling on university-related programs.

 

TRAVEL REQUEST PROCESS


UTSA Restricted Regions List travel exceptions may be made, based upon official request to the IOC or its delegate. The IOC or delegate will review these requests and make a decision.

The University will not support travel that takes place without adhering to the requirements of the UTSA Restricted Regions Travel Procedures. Therefore, the University will not retroactively approve any travel to a Restricted Region. The prior purchase of non-refundable transportation/airline tickets, lodging, and or other international vendor services will not be considered as a justifiable reason for IOC approval of travel to a restricted region.

IOC Delegations

IOC Travel Review Subcommittee (TRS)

The IOC has delegated the procedural task of reviewing faculty-led programs and graduate and undergraduate students requests to travel to the IOC Travel Review Subcommittee (TRS), prior to the travel requests going directly to the Vice Provost for International Initiatives for final approval. The TRS, appointed by the Vice  Provost, collectively reviews and makes recommendation (on behalf of the IOC) to the Vice Provost for International Initiatives. However, the TRS does have the authority to refer travel requests otherwise delegated to them back to the full IOC for review and recommendation to the Vice Provost.

The IOC has also delegated the review and approval of certain travel requests as follows:

Students:
Travel to Category 2, 3, and 4 Locations: Graduate and undergraduate student travel requests will be reviewed by the IOC Travel Review Subcommittee (TRS) and then forwarded to the Vice Provost for final approval.

Faculty and Staff:
Travel to Category 2 and 3 Locations: Faculty and staff travel requests to Category 2 and 3 locations will be reviewed and approved for health and safety risks by the traveler’s vice president or dean in collaboration with the Chair of the IOC. Such requests will not need review or approval by the IOC, although the IOC Chair or the traveler’s vice president or dean may refer any request to the IOC for review and recommendation.

Faculty and staff traveling multiple times to the same Category 2 or 3 region for purposes related to a grant, contract, or agreement may submit one request with multiple travel dates. Supporting documentation stating the need for multiple trips must be submitted with the request.

Travel to Category 4 Locations: As noted above, faculty and staff may travel to Category 4 locations without requesting an exception. Such requests only need the approval of the traveler’s vice president or dean.

All other requests for travel (staff and faculty requests to Category 1 locations) will require review by the full IOC.

Process:

All travel requests must be strongly linked to institutional and academic goals, as determined by their department, college, or unit. A thorough grasp of all major health, safety, or security concerns must be demonstrated in the request and accompanied by an adequate risk mitigation strategy. Detailed information must be provided to include, but not limited to, academic purpose for the trip, logistics (mode of travel, schedule, lodging, etc.), knowledge of the area, language skills or challenges, and emergency points of contact for each traveler in both the restricted region and the United States.

The specific process for review and approval of travel requests is as follows:

Students (includes UTSA-Organized Activities and Faculty-Led Programs – see also Section below):

Risk Category

Process (shown in-turn and listed sequentially)

 

1 – Extreme

 

Not Allowed

 

2 (High)

Only graduate students traveling on university-related programs may request an exception to travel to a region within this category

 

  • Traveler’s Chair/Unit Head
  • College/School/Unit Dean or Vice President
  • IOC or TRS
  • Vice Provost

3 (Medium) and 4 (Variable)

 

  • Traveler’s Chair/Unit Head
  • College/School/Unit Dean or Vice President
  • IOC or TRS
  • Vice Provost

Note: In addition to following all of the requirements of this process, students also must meet all requirements in the UTSA Student Travel Policy.

 

Faculty & Staff

Risk Category

Process (shown in-turn and listed sequentially)

 

 

1 – Extreme

 

  • Traveler’s Chair/Unit Head
  • College/School/Unit Dean or Vice President
  • IOC
  • Vice Provost

 

 

2 (High) and 3 (Medium)

 

  • Traveler’s Chair/Unit Head
  • Traveler’s College/School/Unit Dean or Vice President in collaboration with Vice Provost

 

4 (Variable)

 

  • No request for exemption required

 

UTSA-Organized Activities/Faculty-led Programs

Requests for travel related to a UTSA-Organized Activity or Faculty-led Program should be processed in accordance with the appropriate Risk Category in the Student travel chart above. The sponsoring or hosting department Chair/Unit Head and respective Dean/Vice President must review and sign all program requests.

New study abroad programs or other activities in locations on the Restricted Regions List may not be announced or formally marketed, and no promotional materials (print or web-based) may be distributed until the program or activity has been pre-approved by the IOC.

Recommended timeline for requests for pre-approval:

Proposed Departure Date

Submission deadline

Summer Programs

January 15

Fall Programs

March 1

Winter break and Spring Programs

September 1

Submitting a UTSA sponsored student activities/program request does not guarantee approval to conduct a program in a Restricted Region. Program organizers are advised not to purchase any travel or promote programs prior to receiving IOC pre-approval. In some cases, the respective approvers may decide to issue a "preliminary approval," which will allow the program to move forward with planning and promoting the activity. Organizers are then responsible for contacting the respective approvers 6-8 weeks in advance of the program start date to request "final approval." The respective approvers will review the request once again, in light of any change in circumstances or security climate since the preliminary approval.


Last-Minute Travel Requests

All faculty and staff related travel requests must be submitted to the Vice Provost at least 14 calendar days in advance of the proposed travel to a restricted region Category 1, and at least 5 calendar days in advance to a restricted region Category 2 and 3. Late requests cannot be guaranteed an IOC decision prior to the proposed departure date, and may result in a denied application and/or delayed start date for travel. Incomplete requests will not be accepted.

All individual student related travel requests must be submitted to the Vice Provost at least 14 calendar days in advance of the proposed travel to a restricted region. Late requests cannot be guaranteed an IOC decision prior to the proposed departure date, and may result in a denied application and/or delayed start date for travel. Incomplete requests will not be accepted.

 

Sudden Change of Condition

Though uncommon, it is possible that programs or activities abroad would need to be modified or suspended by the University due to a sudden change of condition. In making this assessment, the University will consider: 1) the risks associated with continuing the activity at that location; 2) the risk management plan for the students, faculty, or staff involved; and 3) the value of the academic experience in that specific location. The Vice Provost makes the final decision.

In circumstances where students are perceived to be in imminent danger and immediate action is required, the Vice Provost has the authority to suspend the affected programs or activities immediately and initiate evacuation proceedings.

 

Change in Circumstances after Approval

If travel plans are adjusted after the requisite approval has been granted, the traveler or program/activity sponsor is responsible for contacting the approvers to discuss the nature of the changes and review the conditions of approval.

If there is a change in circumstances within the terms of the proposed itinerary, the critical nature of the trip, or the health, safety, or security climate of the region of interest (either prior to or after departure), the University retains the right to withdraw the travel approval and/or require the traveler(s) to return to the United States.

 

MANDATORY REGISTRATION WITH INTERNATIONAL SOS


According to the UT System Chancellor's directive to all UT System Presidents (April 22, 2010), "Institutions must implement the necessary processes to ensure anyone traveling on University business or programs is enrolled in the International SOS system."

To meet this mandate, all UTSA travelers are required to complete travel registration with International SOS. Failure to register travel with International SOS may result in program suspension or the IOC decision to withdraw approval.

Some countries on the Restricted Regions List are not covered by UT Systems International SOS policy. All students, faculty, or staff requesting permission to travel to these countries must contact the UTSA Office of International Programs to ensure that adequate emergency assistance coverage is available.

 

PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF TRAVEL PROCEDURES TO RESTRICTED REGIONS


The University will not support travel that takes place without adhering to the requirements of the Travel  Procedures. To receive credit for coursework taken or research conducted in a Restricted Region, UTSA students must obtain IOC approval prior to travel. Violators may by denied credit or face non-academic sanctions.

 

UTSA Procedures for Travel to Restricted Regions Updated June 2016