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Policy: Travel Abroad Warning for University Students 

Date: 05/12/10 Policy ID: PROV-010 Status: Final

Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Contact Office: International Studies Office
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To: Academic Division.
Table of Contents: 

Policy Statement

Reason for Policy: 

The University of Virginia recognizes the importance of international experiences and aspires to provide students with the tools that will help them to become leaders of their chosen professions in the global society of the 21st century. To this end, the University supports a program of study abroad opportunities around the world. At the same time, the University recognizes that there are times and places where personal security issues may outweigh the advantages of exposure to international experiences; therefore, the University has developed a measured approach to provide for the safety of its students.

Policy Summary: 
Definition of Terms in Statement: Travel Warnings: The U.S. Department of State’s strongest advisory that is issued when the Department, based on all relevant information, decides to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country.
Policy Statement: 

The University has established requirements about how, when and where University students may study abroad in consideration of issues of terrorism, war, disease and other risks to travelers.  The U.S. Department of State (DOS) periodically posts advisories called “travel warnings” for countries that they deem to be unsafe for Americans. It is the University’s policy to follow the official travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State.

Accordingly, when the DOS issues a travel warning for a particular country, the University will suspend approval of, and terminate all ongoing study abroad by University of Virginia undergraduate students of any nationality in that country during the period of time that such a travel warning is in effect.

No University undergraduate student is permitted to embark on study abroad in the affected locale, region, or country nor are University sponsored programs, including short-term faculty-led programs, permitted to depart for the start of the program, as long as the travel warning is in effect.

When undergraduate students have received formal approval to participate in a program location prior to the issuance of a travel warning, the approval will be suspended until such time as the travel warning has been lifted unless exempted per the procedure below.

In the event that a travel warning is issued while an undergraduate student is participating in a University program already in progress in an affected area, that program will be terminated under the guidance and direction of the DOS, International Studies Office, program director, host and/or provider. If the undergraduate student is participating in a non-University study abroad program, decisions for termination will be made by the host institution in concert with the DOS, program director, host and/or provider.  If an evacuation or departure order is issued by the DOS, evacuation of undergraduate students will occur under the direction of the American embassy in that region. It is the undergraduate student’s responsibility to be informed of appropriate refund policies for their program, should a program be suspended or cancelled due to the issuance of a travel warning.

Exemptions to the policy may be granted by the International Studies Office to individual undergraduate students participating in non-University programs per student petition and additional waiver and release of liability. The decision of the International Studies Office will be final.

An undergraduate student wishing to request approval of participation in a non-University study abroad program in a country under a DOS travel warning may follow the guidelines documented in the Procedures section below.
Graduate and professional students may travel to a country with a travel warning if they cannot complete their study anywhere else in the world. Such study/research projects would require written justification and the approval of the department chair, the dean, and the provost.


An undergraduate student wishing to request approval of participation in a non-University study abroad program in a country under a DOS travel warning must submit a Petition for Program Approval through the on-line study abroad application process.

  • To petition, the undergraduate must meet the University’s eligibility criteria for study abroad as described in the student eligibility policy.
  • As part of the petition, the student must acknowledge the risks associated with his elected travel to the area and sign the High Risk Travel Waiver/Release Form, assuming all the risks and releasing the University from any future liability for his or her personal choice. 

The International Studies Office will review the petition on the same basis as any other petition for approval of an outside (non-University) program. This includes review of the academic merits of the program, student support services, and administrative processes, including emergency/risk management. The decision is communicated to the petitioning student by e-mail.

If the petition is approved, the student must complete the required study abroad processes administered by the International Studies Office. The undergraduate remains responsible for providing his or her own health insurance, as well as the emergency insurance for evacuation and repatriation purposes.

Related Information: Withdrawal and Refund Policy
Policy Background: 
Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Category Cross Reference: 
Next Scheduled Review: 05/12/13
Approved By, Date: Executive Vice President and Provost, 05/12/10
Revision History: 
Supersedes (previous policy):  Undergraduate Student Travel Warning Policy, August 29, 2005.