Travel abroad has some inherent risks, and some parts of the world pose heightened risks to health and safety. Because we believe that international experience is essential to our academic mission, the IOC created the UT Travel Policy to Restricted Regions to safeguard the well-being of students, faculty and staff going abroad.
The University of Texas at Austin uses the UTS190 International Travel Policy to provide a framework for our institutional oversight that promotes the health, safety, and security of UT travelers and initiatives abroad. This replaces the 2010, 2011, and 2014 Chancellor's directives relations to international travel health, safety, and security.
The Travel Policy to Restricted Regions applies to:
- UT-Austin graduate and undergraduate students, traveling internationally as individuals or in groups, with or without University funding, for any UT-sponsored, UT-administered, or UT-related activity or program. This includes, but is not limited to:
- official study abroad programs
- recognized student organization trips abroad
- conducting research
- field studies
- service learning
- volunteer, experiential, or work programs sponsored, endorsed, promoted, or administered by the University
- UT-organized events and programs, with or without University funding (including, but not limited to, study abroad programs, recognized organization trips abroad, conferences and seminars, and class field trips, regardless of UT student, faculty, or staff participation).
- UT-Austin 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.
This does not include personal/vacation travel that is unaffiliated with UT-Austin.
UT Restricted Regions List
The IOC maintains a Restricted Regions List of locations worldwide that pose travel risk. No student, faculty, or staff can be required to travel to a location on the Restricted Regions List. UT-Austin students, faculty, and staff are not permitted to participate in international activities in locations on the Restricted Regions List unless an exception is granted by the IOC.
The Restricted Regions List includes, but is not limited to:
- Countries with a current U.S. Department of State Travel Warning*
- Countries with locations that have an International SOS travel risk rating of High or Extreme, whether or not there is a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning
- Countries with a CDC Travel Health Notice: Warning Level 3
Locations on the Restricted Regions List are evaluated for risk and assigned to a category as described below.
Category 1 – Extreme Risk: International locations with an International SOS travel risk rating of Extreme.
Category 2 – High Risk: International locations with an International SOS travel risk rating of High; all locations with a CDC Travel Health Notice: Warning Level 3.
Category 3 – Medium Risk: International locations with both a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and an International SOS travel risk rating of Medium or lower
Category 4 – Variable Risk: International locations where part of that country has an International SOS travel risk rating of High or Extreme, yet there is no U.S. Department of State Travel Warning. UT-Austin faculty and staff may proceed with planned travel with no IOC review or restrictions.
The Restricted Regions List is monitored regularly and may be updated by the IOC whenever specific conditions warrant. The list is reviewed on a quarterly basis. Absence of a country from the Restricted Regions List does not indicate that a location is safe or without travel risk.
* The U.S. Department of State will soon be replacing Travel Warnings and Alerts with a color-coded, numerical rating system of Travel Advisories for every country. The tentative start date for these changes is Wednesday, January 10, 2018. The Restricted Regions list remains the same, please see the IOC Interim Guidance for Restricted Regions Travel Policy.
Travel request process
You may request an exception to travel, or take a group, to a restricted region. An IOC subcommittee, appointed by the Vice Provost, reviews travel requests on behalf of the IOC. The IOC Subcommittee makes the final decision about such travel, which cannot be appealed. Travel will usually be approved when there is a compelling justification and no suitable alternative opportunities exist. All requests must be strongly linked to academic goals and must adequately address major health, safety or security concerns.
There are different processes for making such a request:
The IOC will not support travel that takes place without adhering to the requirements of the Travel Policy. Therefore, the IOC will not retroactively approve any travel to a Restricted Region.
When things Change
Last-Minute Travel Requests:
Late requests cannot be guaranteed a decision prior to the proposed departure date, and may result in a denied application and/or delayed start date for travel.
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 IOC 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 for International Programs or her delegate 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 IOC approval has been granted, the traveler or program/activity sponsor is responsible for contacting the IOC to discuss the conditions of approval.
If there is a change in circumstances – in 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 IOC travel approval and/or require return to the U.S.
Mandatory registration with International SOS (ISOS)
Anyone traveling on University business or programs must be enrolled in the International SOS system. The International Office has automated registration for students who register in the Study Abroad Portal or in the International Travel Registry, and for faculty and staff who purchase travel through a UT-contracted travel agency. All other UT 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’s International SOS policy. All students, faculty, or staff requesting permission to travel to these countries must contact Global Risk and Safety to ensure that adequate emergency assistance coverage is available.
Penalties for violations of the travel policy
The University will not support travel that takes place without adhering to the requirements of the Travel Policy. To receive credit for coursework taken or research conducted in a Restricted Region, UT students must obtain IOC approval prior to travel. Violators may be denied credit or face non-academic sanctions.
- All students (undergraduate and graduate) who violate the travel policy will be referred to the Dean of Students/Student Judicial Services for disciplinary action. Departments/Deans will also be notified. Any reimbursement from the University for unapproved travel is strictly prohibited.
- For graduate students applying for graduation who have traveled to a Restricted Region without approval, the IOC will continue to review their travel itineraries and other materials. The IOC may decide to provide a letter allowing them to proceed with graduation (noting that they are being referred for disciplinary action), but the graduation timeline might be impacted.
Without strict guidelines, UT cannot protect the safety of its students and faculty. Strict adherence to the policy is our way of keeping our community safe.