Domestic and International Travel Guidelines

Purpose of the Guidelines

Travel programs are organized under the mission and policies of Miami University, have defined academic and experiential objectives, present special challenges, unique rewards, and often serious risks. These Guidelines cover all Miami University academic travel programs – credit, not for credit, domestic, and international. It is impossible for a set of guidelines to cover every detail or scenario, this document offers institutional standards. If questions arise that are not answered by these Guidelines, please contact Global Initiatives or Education Abroad staff.

1. Safety Framework

a. Global Initiatives, in collaboration with the university administration, monitors local, national, and international alerts and warnings, and will share this information with faculty leaders. All program leaders are also expected to review travel and health risk information and to share pertinent information with students.

b. The Provost’s Office has the right to deny, suspend or cancel a program due to safety and security concerns. The Provost’s Office also has the right to amend the curriculum or withdraw program participants from the region due to safety and security concerns. 

c. Program leaders are encouraged to use preferred program providers approved by Miami University to support their program. Preferred program providers supply an important layer of risk management support, provide logistical expertise, and streamline the procurement process. 

d. Approved providers have:

i. liability insurance coverage that meets Miami’s minimum standards;

ii. a risk management plan with a comprehensive crisis protocol; and,

iii. contracts that meet Miami’s procurement and legal standards. 

e. Location considerations. All travel program leaders must consult with Education Abroad staff to develop a risk management plan specific to the location(s) where they will travel with students. 

i. Information regarding travel warnings and alerts is expected to be shared with students prior to registration or as soon as it is known.

ii. Itinerary considerations:

1. Program leaders planning activities considered high risk as defined by the Office of Education Abroad, university insurance providers, or other risk management consultants, will be asked to collaborate with Education Abroad to develop a risk management plan for approval prior to travel. This includes, but is not limited to zip lining, skiing, scuba diving, and other water/boat activities.

2. All proposed activities must be aligned with the program’s academic content, assignments, and learning outcomes.

iii. Programs traveling to medium to high risk locations (as defined by the U.S. Department of State and risk management consultants) or conducting medium to high risk activities must require students to acknowledge and sign a supplemental risk and release form with details related to the location’s risk or risks associated with program activities.

f. Program directors and all accompanying personnel are required to complete risk management, and program safety and security training through the Office of Education Abroad. Failure to complete this training can negatively impact the eligibility of faculty and staff to lead or participate in future programs.

g. Program directors will encourage students to complete the Medical Questionnaire at least one month prior to departure, and in collaboration with Education Abroad staff will counsel students to self-assess their academic, health, and emotional ability to participate in the program. 

i. Students with previous or current medical and/or mental health conditions will be strongly encouraged to consult with trained medical and/or mental health professionals and to prepare coping strategies that may be used abroad should they experience problems. 

ii. Program leaders should include the following statement in their syllabus and/or their program application: Foreign travel and living overseas can provide special challenges and stresses. Medical care, including mental health care, emergency medical care and medicine may not be as available and/or of a quality comparable to that available in the United States.

h. Program leaders are required to prepare an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), in collaboration with Education Abroad, and submit prior to travel. The EAP will identify contacts at each location to assist with emergencies and health/safety issues including the police and United States consulate or embassy locations and officials, physicians, hospitals, and psychologists.

i. At least ten working days prior to departure, program directors will provide emergency contact information and their final program itinerary to the Office of Education Abroad.

j. Program directors will serve as Campus Security Authorities under the Clery Act, Responsible Parties under Title IX and will complete necessary trainings as defined by these roles and comply with related reporting and information requests in a timely manner.

k. Program leaders’ spouses/partners or children travel companions are strongly discouraged from accompanying faculty and staff on short term travel programs. Review the Study Abroad Participant Statement to identify who is approved to participate in, and with, study abroad and away programs. Traveling companions must submit a Miami University Travel Program Companion Form for review and approval. See Education Abroad staff for more information. 

2. Housing

a. Student housing should be reviewed to ensure that it is safe, clean, and appropriately located. This review should be done by an approved program provider. If the program director chooses not to use a program provider, then the program leader is responsible for ensuring that the student housing complies with Miami University standards.

b. Non-Traditional Lodging approval must be obtained in the program development process. Contact Education Abroad for approval process. 

c. It is recommended that program leaders reside the same housing as their students so they are readily available and accessible in an emergency.

i. If program directors are not able to reside in the same location as their students, they will book lodging in close proximity. 

d. Miami University programs considering homestays are strongly encouraged to use a provider to ensure health, safety, and security standards are met.

e. Housing reservations will be cover the students for the approved program dates. Student housing reservations outside of the approved program dates are not the responsibility of Miami University. 

3. Student Application and Admissions 

a. Directors are responsible for developing an admissions review process for the travel program. The student enrollment process must be transparent and fair. Program directors must provide transparent, written, and consistent selection standards aligned with institutional standards. 

b. In consultation with the program leaders, the Office of Education Abroad will develop an online program application. This site will include information about: 

i. Whether the program is for credit or not for credit.

ii. Academic and language prerequisites.

iii. The degree to which a student’s disciplinary record will be a factor/consideration for admission to the program.

iv. The basic itinerary for the program.

v. Costs of the program: 

1. detailed breakdown of program fees, 

2. university tuition and fees, 

3. and anticipated out of pocket and miscellaneous expenses

vi. Detailed information regarding the refundability of the program fees, tuition, or administrative fees.

vii. Expectations for travel arrangements and options to and from the program, including supervision during travel.

c. Minimum standard admissions qualifications:

i. Minimum age of 18 by the first day of travel. 

ii. Minimum GPA of 2.0 (although individual programs may have a higher standard for GPA)

iii. In good standing with the University, and maintain the minimum grade point average from time of acceptance through the travel period. 

iv. Students may be denied admission if they have:

1. Past disciplinary or criminal record.

2. Pending disciplinary or criminal charges.

3. Miami GPA below 2.0.

v. Students will be denied admission, or admission to a travel program can be rescinded, if the student:

1. Is currently on disciplinary probation or suspended from Miami.

2. Fails to disclose previous or pending disciplinary sanctions at Miami.

3. Is not in good academic standing (a Miami GPA below 2.0) at the start of the program.

vi. The above is not an exhaustive list of considerations for acceptance into an education abroad program approved by Miami University. Students may be interviewed and there may be further review by the Dean of Students or the Office of Community Standards before a final decision is made.

vii. Program directors may require a medical release during the post-acceptance phase. When required, all students in the program must provide the release.

4. Student Documents

a. Upon admission to the program, and prior to travel, students will review, complete, and acknowledge the following:

i. Assumption of Risk and Release 

ii. Emergency Contact Information

iii. Authorization for Medical Procedures and Release of Medical Information

b. All students participating in Miami University sponsored programs outside of the U.S. are required to purchase supplemental international health, evacuation, accidental death, and repatriation insurance offered through the university approved provider.

5. Student Conduct Guidelines

a. Students in a travel program are bound by the applicable policies and rules of Miami University, the policies and rules of the host institutions as disseminated during orientation, and by the laws of the site of the program (e.g., foreign country, state).

b. Students may be bound by additional rules and sanctions as specified in writing by the program director as deemed necessary for appropriate and safe operation of the program. These additional expectations will be in writing and provided to the students.

c. The Miami University student standards in the Student Code of Conduct, the Undergraduate Student Polices, and the Graduate Student Policies are fully applicable, and violations will not be tolerated. The program director must inform students of these policies, disciplinary processes, and the consequences of violations prior to the program in writing, and consistently enforce them during the program.

d. The disciplinary policy by the host institution, or the lack of a disciplinary policy by the host institution, does not in any way preclude Miami University’s ability to pursue or not pursue its own disciplinary action regarding the same matter.

e. If the student’s misconduct is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, the Undergraduate Student Polices, or the Graduate Student Policies, then the conduct review process outlined by the Office of Community Standards will be implemented.

  1. Before engaging in this process, the program director should inform the on-call designated responder for travel programs.
  2. The responder will ask the program director to complete the Office of Community Standards Incident Reporting Form, which will initiate the OCS conduct review process.
  3. The program director will notify the student that an OCS Incident Report has been filed, and that the student can expect to receive a letter from OCS to schedule a hearing.

f. During the conduct review process, it is expected that the student will remain on the program. If the Program Director determines, in consultation with Global Initiatives, the Dean of Students, and the Provost, that the student's continued association with the program poses a significant risk of harm to the student or puts the health or safety of other program participants, the academic integrity of the program, or the relationship with the foreign institution, other partners or country at risk, the student will be dismissed from the program.

g. In the event of removal from the program, the student must vacate the facilities provided by the program and will be withdrawn from all course work associated with the program.

  1. In the event of removal, the student remains responsible for all costs associated with program enrollment, without recourse to a refund.

h. It is possible that a student may violate program rules without violating the Student Code of Conduct, the Undergraduate Student Polices, or the Graduate Student Policies, Program directors should still report these rule violations to the on-call designated responder for travel programs. If the rule violations seem to show cause for concern about a student’s well-being, then the director will track the case within the Global Initiatives risk management system, and the director will be asked to complete a Student of Concern Report. This report does not automatically trigger the OCS hearing process; rather, it brings the student to the attention of the Office of the Dean of Students Care Team, who will work with Global Initiatives and the program director to support the student.

6. Advising and Orientation

a. Program leaders will provide appropriate academic and non-academic advising to meet changing student needs before and throughout the period of travel. Program leaders will support the curriculum and student learning environment both inside and outside the classroom with an understanding that the entire experience in the host culture forms the learning opportunity.

b. Program leaders will seek to accommodate students with physical or learning disabilities wherever possible, in consultation and coordination with the Miller Center for Student Disability Services.

c. Program directors will conduct an in-person orientation program for participants prior to the departure date of the program. 

i. In the event an in-person orientation is not feasible, the program director should develop a suitable alternative and submit it for approval to the Office of Education Abroad. 

ii. Students will be informed that orientations and other planning cannot cover all situations that may arise in travel. 

iii. All pre-departure orientation information will be provided in writing, and made available for parents and guardians. 

d. Information provided at the pre-departure orientation will include, but may not be limited to:

i. Discussion of the academic and program requirements and policies.

ii. Discussion of adjustment to host culture and introduction to the host location, culture, and society.

iii. Health Information– including availability and quality of health care at the travel site as assessed by the insurance provider and by other providers.

iv. Legal Information– students should be informed about differing standards, both for behavior and for operation of the criminal justice system and advised that the University will not assume responsibility for or resolve criminal matters on their behalf. Students should be informed that they will be subject to the laws or customs of the cities and countries, Miami University is not responsible for the violation of any laws by the participants, Miami cannot assure that U.S. standards of due process apply in other countries, and the University does not provide or pay for legal representation;

v. Emergency Contact Information

1. Students will be instructed about what to do, where to go and who to contact in the event of a crisis/emergency on site.

2. Program leaders will provide to students the location(s) and phone number(s) of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest to the program site(s).

vi. Safety Information.

1. Safety information will be provided before the students travel and again once they have arrived at on site. 

2. Safety information includes 

a. general safety information; 

b. detailed ways in which students can obtain safety information; 

c. site specific safety information; and

d. information designed both to alert students to potential dangers and to instruct them about ways they can, through their own behavior, reduce risk; 

e. bystander responsibility information.

3. Safety information is not limited to risk from criminal activity, but must also include risks occurring because safety standards are not what students experience in the U.S., (e.g., bus and auto travel, hotel safety) as provided by International SOS.

4. Information Regarding Political/Cultural Conditions – students will be advised to stay informed of travel risks by referring to information provided by the U.S. State Department and International SOS.

5. Students, faculty, and staff traveling outside of the U.S. with Miami University sponsored programs are required to register with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

 vii. Disciplinary Information and Rules of Foreign Institution

1. Students will be informed of all student conduct rules and policies. If the program is hosted by another university or provider location, students will be informed that they will be subject to the host’s student conduct code as well as Miami’s Code of Student Conduct and student responsibilities. 

2. In case of conflicting standards of conduct, the host institution’s conduct code prevails. 

3. Students will be provided with a copy of the host institution’s student conduct code or informed of how to obtain a copy.

viii. Harassment and Discrimination Information

1. Students will be informed about Miami’s policies against harassment and discrimination. 

2. Miami University strongly opposes and will not tolerate harassment or discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, military status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or protected veteran status in its activities, programs, admission, and employment. 

3. This prohibition extends to harassment or discrimination, based on the protected status listed above, including the creation of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, educational, or living environment. 

4. Any person who believes he/she has been subjected to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation may report the behavior directly to the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO). 

5. Program leaders who learn of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, have a duty to report to OEEO.

ix. Rape, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Information (Title IX offenses)

1. Students will be informed that sexual misconduct, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual harassment (Title IX violations) are strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. 

2. All program leaders who become aware of an alleged Title IX violation, including sexual misconduct, interpersonal violence or sexual harassment or retaliation have a duty to report to the Title IX Office. 

x. Drugs and Alcohol

1. Students will be informed that Miami University does not tolerate unlawful possession, use of, or distribution of illegal drugs and alcohol by students.

2. University funds or program fees may not be used to purchase alcohol for students.

3. University faculty and staff may not purchase alcohol for students.

4. Students will be informed in writing that students of legal age, who are consuming alcohol in a host country, must do so responsibly, respecting the health and safety of self, others, and the laws of their host country.

5. Program directors can elect to make their program alcohol free and to impose a no alcohol and/or drugs policy (e.g., in places where marijuana is legal) as a condition of participation in the program. This information must be provided in writing to all students in the program.

xi. Travel

1. Students will be advised that all pre-course, supplemental, or post-course travel is at the student’s own risk and is not sanctioned, sponsored, overseen, or insured by Miami University.

2. Pre-course, supplemental, or post-course travel may not be included in any written or verbal advertising, representations, or publicity associated with the travel program.

3. All travel must be approved and directly related to course instruction and curriculum. 

xii. On-going orientation

1. On-going orientation will include points of reference to the host location and culture to maximize the student learning experience and minimize the health and safety concerns.

2. Program directors are expected to provide an on-site orientation after arrival at each travel location. 

3. The first on-site orientation should review all of the materials covered during the pre-departure orientation, and should confirm the program’s communication plan, ensuring that students and program directors can communicate with each other. 

4. All on-site orientations will include specific points of reference to the host location regarding neighborhood safety and the emergency meet-up location. 

xiii. Establishing a program “buddy system” is encouraged to reinforce the practice of students looking out for each other.

xiv. Program leaders are responsible for understanding and complying with the Emergency Reporting Procedures communication protocol which is provided in writing prior to travel from the Office of Education Abroad.

xv. Whenever possible, program directors should debrief with the students at the beginning and end of each day of the program to review learning, cultural experiences, and student well-being.

xvi. The program leadership and design should provide support for students returning from abroad to allow for successful cultural re-entry.

7. Academic Expectations and Framework for Travel Programs

a. Travel programs must be designed to foster discipline-specific or interdisciplinary student learning outcomes appropriate to the curriculum, itinerary and program goals. 

b. Program directors also should design programs that align with the learning goals of Miami University and Global Initiatives to cultivate intercultural competence and foster global perspectives.

c. Faculty program leaders in credit bearing travel programs should review the study abroad student learning expectations for study abroad programs and the academic standards for compressed or accelerated delivery programs

d. Course dates should follow term adherence guidelines as set by the University Registrar to comply with federal financial assistance requirements.

i. Generally, formal course start dates and end dates should adhere to the Miami University term/session calendar. 

ii. Study abroad programs may start no more than two weeks before the start of the on-campus term, and should complete within two weeks from the term’s end. 

e. Programs traveling outside of the U.S. are not required to adhere to U.S. holiday schedules and may schedule classes, meetings, events, and travel on weekends. Program leaders should maintain an awareness of local holidays and customs related to those holidays or events.

8. Assessment

a. The program logistics and learning outcomes must be assessed and evaluated, and subsequent program development should be informed by the results.

b. Program directors should debrief on return to campus with staff in the Office of Education Abroad.

9. Non-Credit Programs and Independent Student Travel

a. Faculty and staff leading students on non-credit travel abroad or away programs (excluding student organization and athletic travel) are required to provide the Office of Education Abroad with a travel itinerary and a roster with all traveler names, unique ids, contact information, and current emergency contact information. It is strongly recommended that the program use the Study Abroad online system. 

b. Undergraduate and Graduate students traveling independently outside of the U.S. for research, global internships, service learning, or other efforts supported or sponsored by Miami University faculty, staff, or offices, will complete an Independent Travel form at least one week prior to departure. 

i. See the Miami University internship policy for more details regarding the expectations for internships outside of the United States.