Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

International travel policy changes offer location flexibility, improved safety

Provost Phil Hanlon has announced a series of changes in the university’s international travel policy that will allow a broader range of possible locations for study-abroad programs.

Hanlon has decided the university will undertake its own assessment of risk for university-sponsored academic programs in countries covered by a U.S. Department of State travel warning. In doing so, the university will move away from its current practice of automatically suspending all programs taking place in such countries.

The decision on the new approach comes after a review of peer university study-abroad policies organized by Mark Tessler, vice provost for international affairs. Hanlon said the new approach would take effect this fall.

Tessler says the policy change comes with two important requirements for all students, faculty and staff who travel abroad on university-sponsored programs or university business: All travelers must register emergency contact information through the university’s travel registry; all travelers must be covered by U-M travel abroad insurance, which provides for evacuation if needed.

“We’ve seen very clearly just how important the Travel Registry and the travel insurance can be,” Tessler says. “Knowing where our students and their mentors are and being able to reach them is absolutely essential in an emergency. And the low-cost insurance coverage provides a means to get assistance to them when needed.”

University officials are working to streamline the existing procedures for registering travel plans and for getting insurance coverage, and are drafting a new Standard Practice Guide on international travel. Staff members in the office of the vice provost for international affairs are working to coordinate the risk assessments for international programs.

More details will be announced as the process moves forward. Those with questions are asked to contact Kati Bauer in the office of the vice provost for international affairs at kati@umich.edu or 734-764-2571.