The health and safety of UVM’s students and employees is the top priority in the planning and execution of travel study courses. UVM’s proposal and assessment process; preparation of UVM faculty and students; pre-departure and in-location checklists and communication and emergency protocols all are designed to minimize the risk to our students’ and employees’ health and safety.
Maximizing health and safety begins in the planning phase of a program, or (for repeat programs) during the annual review.
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of non-natural deaths of U.S. citizens abroad (U.S. Centers for Disease Control). Accidents can of course happen regardless of how careful we may be in our planning. Nevertheless, a great deal of risk can be mitigated in how transportation vendors are selected and vetted, and in creating a reasonable itinerary that maximizes safety. For example, generally travel should occur in daylight hours (and in some locations, UVM will prohibit travel before/after daylight unless an emergency due to road safety and/or crime).
The UVM Department of Risk Management has set the following expectations for transportation on Travel Study programs:
- If hiring a bus/driver:
- The faculty course leader must have personal knowledge of this driver/bus company from previous trips to this country and know the driver to be safe/reliable and/or have checked references with others who have contracted with this driver/bus company;
- The driver has a valid license for the period of course travel;
- The driver's accident history for the last 3 years has been reviewed and it was confirmed they have fewer than 2 moving violations in that time period;
- For any trips > 8 hours behind the wheel, the company will provide an additional driver;
- The driver has notification procedures for roadside emergencies and breakdowns.
- Prior to students boarding they faculty course leader will reconfirm that the vehicle the course will be using has been serviced recently and that the vehicle appears to be in good condition for the intended travel.
- If renting vehicles and faculty/TA will be driving:
- Faculty leader must buy the automobile liability and physical damage (loss damage waiver – LDW) insurance offered under the rental control.
- UVM drivers must complete UVM driver safety training at least 45 days prior to departure. Only drivers certified by UVM Risk Management as current in certification will drive.
- Student drivers are prohibited.
- UVM strongly discourages employees from driving students in foreign countries; approval to do so for routine program travel must be approved in writing when your course is being proposed.
- If using boats, the faculty course leader or vendor will need to have done the following prior to boat use:
- Verified the captain/driver has a license valid for the period of our travel;
- Verified that life vests are on board for all passengers;
- Verified that the boat captain has notification procedures for emergencies and breakdowns.
- That prior to students boarding I will reconfirm that the boat we will be using has been serviced recently and that the vehicle appears to be in good condition for the intended travel.
- If using a private aircraft, the faculty leader or vendor will need to have confirmed the following prior to aircraft use:
- That they have personal knowledge of this pilot/company from previous trips to this country and know the pilot to be safe/reliable and/or have checked references with others who have contracted with this pilot/company;
- That the captain has a license valid for the period of our travel;
- That the pilot has notification procedures for emergencies and breakdowns.
- That prior to students boarding I will reconfirm that the plane we will be using has been serviced recently and that the vehicle appears to be in good condition for the intended travel.
Where our students and employees sleep impacts the quality of the academic program. Time zone changes and new environments can make sleep harder to come by; maximizing the likelihood of students (and faculty/TA leaders) being well-rested makes academic focus easier. It also makes the course safer one since our judgment deteriorates with insufficient rest. Beyond sleep quality, a large number of hours is spent within our housing which means we should assess it carefully for risk of fire, crime, and other health and safety issues.
When you complete your course proposal or renewal in GoAbroad, you will outline how you have evaluated the health and safety of the selected lodging. This housing health and safety worksheet (which is mirrored in GoAbroad) will help you get started.
Course/program ITAG assessment
The International Travel Advisory Group (ITAG) is comprised of staff and administrators from the Office of General Counsel (legal), Department of Risk Management, and the Office of International Education. This body uses criteria which have been developed and agreed to institutionally for evaluating risks around health and safety for international travel. OIE is your partner in identifying options to mitigate health and safety risks. Most courses can be approved by ITAG itself, but some courses trigger higher levels of review and must be approved by the Provost and President. These reviews occur after you submit your proposal and budget. Courses are approved contingent upon conditions at the time, and approval may be revoked prior to or even after departure if conditions change.
Medical clearance forms
Courses that require significant physical activity and/or which occur in locations that do not have local medical care require that participants complete medical clearance forms. The International Travel Advisory Group (ITAG) determines which courses require a medical clearance. Any faculty member who wants participants to complete a medical clearance process may ask the Office of International Education to institute one for their course, even if not required by ITAG.
Existing courses with medical clearance forms (and samples of forms) are available here.
Health and safety workshops
Health and safety workshops are facilitated by the Office of International Education. Every faculty leader, co-instructor or teaching assistant has responsibility for attending a workshop before they first lead UVM students abroad, and every three years thereafter.
This page is part of the Travel Study Guide for Faculty.