Global Travel to High Risk Countries
Policy number: 11.4
Policy section: Risk Management
Revised Date: April 24, 2023
Definitions of capitalized terms are set forth in Appendix A.
2. Policy Statement
The University supports and encourages global travel and collaborations and recognizes that a broad perspective is essential to the institution’s academic mission. However, the University is committed to the safety of its faculty, staff, invited official guests, and students when they participate in these activities. The University realizes that some areas of the world present heightened risks regarding health and safety.
This policy outlines the process SMU staff, faculty, invited official guests, and students must follow to ensure international and domestic travel complies with University policies regarding travel to high risk countries of the world as well as potentially dangerous border areas that are adjacent to a country for which travel warnings or alerts have been issued. The process outlined in this policy are in addition to all other University international and domestic travel requirements.
This policy applies to each SMU faculty member, staff person, invited official guest, and student traveling as an individual or in a group in connection with SMU-sponsored, SMU-administered, or SMU-affiliated activities or programs (including, but not limited to, activities such as taking part in official education abroad programs, participating in recognized student organization trips abroad, conducting research, and attending conferences), and all other SMU-sanctioned activities with or without SMU funding. This policy does not apply to personal or vacation travel that is unaffiliated with SMU or to non-official guests or dependents. This policy is in addition to any other applicable University policies.
5. Travel Oversight Committee
- This policy establishes the Travel Oversight Committee (“TOC”) and assigns the members of the TOC as the designees for the Provost and Vice President for Business and Finance for the sole purpose of approving travel to high risk countries.
- The Provost and the Vice President for Business and Finance will review any appeals from a denial of travel determination as part of this policy or on an as needed basis.
- The TOC shall review all requests to travel to high risk countries as provided to them by the ORM in a timely manner. As part of this review, the TOC may consult with other SMU stakeholders.
- The TOC will provide approval or denial of travel to a high risk country based on TOC review and shall communicate its decision to approve or deny restricted regions travel to the ORM.
6. Traveling to High Risk Countries
- SMU faculty, staff, invited official guests, and students whose travel is subject to this policy and who wish to travel to an area of the world designated as a high risk country must follow the appropriate registration process as provided through the ORM website and as established through this policy and the TOC. They shall provide the ORM and the TOC any additional information requested in order for the TOC to reach a determination on the travel request.
- SMU faculty, staff, invited official guests, and students must abide by the decision of the TOC, or if appealed, the joint decision of the Provost and the Vice President for Business and Finance, regarding travel to high risk countries.
- Failure to register travel pursuant to University Policy 4.7, Travel and Entertainment Management, with the ORM or SMU Abroad (for undergraduate students) may result in non-compliance with this policy and non-compliance with University Policy 4.7.
- The University reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to impose any such conditions on restricted region travel it deems necessary. Failure to abide by any such conditions may result in revocation of approval and/or denial of travel expense reimbursement.
- The University reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to revoke its prior approval to any individual or group, and/or cancel approved travel to a high risk country, in the event there is a change in condition that would render travel to the high risk country unsafe.
7. Related Policies and Forms
- In addition to obtaining required approvals under University Policy 4.7, Travel and Entertainment Management, a traveler who requests approval for travel to a high risk country must obtain approval from and register with the TOC through the Office of Risk Management (“ORM”) no later than 15 business days in advance of travel.
- Failure to obtain such approval may result in the University withholding permission to travel and/or denial of travel expense reimbursement.
8. Role and Responsibilities of the Office of Risk Management and SMU Abroad
- ORM will maintain a travel website designed to provide information to SMU faculty, staff, invited official guests, and students on the process to request TOC approval to travel to high risk countries.
- ORM will also collect and maintain the appropriate documentation for high risk country travel requests and to assist the TOC in their responsibilities outlined in this policy.
- ORM, on behalf of the TOC, will communicate the TOC’s decision to the SMU faculty, staff, invited official guest, or student who requested the travel.
- SMU Abroad, as the department in the University responsible for undergraduate international travel, shall assist in ensuring that undergraduate travel complies with this policy.
9. Travel Appeals
- In the event that a traveler or a proposed trip does not comply with the policy, appeals may be made to the TOC within 30 days of the denial for reimbursement of funds. The TOC will review the appeal within 30 days of receipt of the appeal.
- Should the traveler disagree with the TOC decision, he or she may further appeal to the Provost and Vice President for Business and Finance. The joint decision of the Provost and the Vice President for Business and Finance is final.
- The Provost and Vice President for Business and Finance shall jointly come to a decision on whether to approve any appeals or requests they have reviewed, and this joint decision is final. This decision will be communicated to the TOC and to the ORM for communication back to the SMU faculty, staff, invited official guest, or student requesting the restricted regions travel.
- The Provost and Vice President for Business and Finance may approve travel to a restricted region only in exceptional circumstances in which a convincing case is made for the need for such travel and appropriate security precautions are taken.
10. Prohibition of Required Travel
No person at the University may require another person to travel to, or adjacent to, a high risk country.
Questions about this policy should be directed to the Office of Risk Management.
Appendix A: Definitions
“Medical and Travel Assistance Company” (“MTAC”) refers to a company, such as Exlog Global, under contract with SMU to provide emergency medical assistance, security evacuation services, and travel assistance.
“High Risk Country” refers to a region of the world that SMU has identified as an area that requires travelers to exert special efforts to mitigate risk and, when necessary, to avoid travel altogether. A high risk country includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Countries currently rated with a level three or above on the list of Travel Advisories of the United States Department of State;
- Countries with locations that have an MTAC travel risk rating of High or Critical, whether or not the country is on the list of Travel Alerts and Warnings of the United States Department of State; or
- Countries with a Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) Travel Health Notice: Warning Level 3.
“Travel Oversight Committee (TOC)” consists of representatives from the Office of the Provost, SMU Abroad, the Office of Risk Management, the Office of Legal Affairs, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Police Department. In addition, the Provost will appoint a representative from the faculty to the TOC from a list of three faculty members provided by the Faculty Senate.
Revised: April 24, 2023
Adopted: February 20, 2012