OSA's Policies regarding U.S. State Department Travel Warnings
MSU is dedicated to offering a wide variety of study abroad opportunities to meet the needs of a diverse student population. MSU has recognized the importance of establishing policies and procedures in the effort to protect the safety and well-being of study abroad participants. Therefore, the following policy regarding study abroad and U.S. State Department Travel Warnings has been developed by the Study Abroad Risk and Security Assessment Committee and approved by the President and Provost.
When a Travel Warning from the U.S. Department of State is in place or is issued for a country in which MSU operates programs, programs participants who have yet to depart for travel to the country which is subject to the Travel Warning are automatically suspended.
Undergraduate students are not permitted to participate in independent studies or internships in countries with Travel Warnings. Supervising faculty may apply for consideration of a waiver by contacting OSA’s Associate Director email@example.com for more information.
Programs that entail travel to multiple countries can still go forward after removing from the itinerary the country that is subject to the Travel Warning.
Faculty leaders or liaisons of suspended programs may petition the Study Abroad Risk and Security Assessment Committee at any time for a program suspension waiver. Waivers apply to one program only (unless specified by the Committee). A waiver for one program in a country does not automatically apply to another program in that same country.
A Travel Warning waiver lasts for two years from the time of issue. If, after two years, a Travel Warning is still in effect and the sponsoring faculty and/or departments wish to continue operating the study abroad program, a new waiver request must be made following the same procedures required of the original request.
If during the two year wavier period, there are significant changes to the program's itinerary, a new waiver request must also be made.
Travel Warning waivers are granted to programs, not countries. Each program operating in a country with a Travel Warning must request a waiver.
The waiver process is as follows:
- A waiver request should be made in writing to the Chair of the Risk and Security Assessment Committee. The request should specifically address dangers or concerns mentioned in the Travel Warning, with reference to the program's location and activities, and related implications.
- If the authors of the waiver request would like a copy of past successful waiver requests, please contact Cindy Chalou firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Once the Chair has received and shared a waiver request, the Chair will either set a date for Committee discussion of the request or table it for later consideration.
- The faculty member making the request will be invited to address the Committee. In addition to evaluating the information the faculty member provides, the Committee may draw upon other sources of information, such as:
- The U.S. Department of State and other bodies (e.g., the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization, for health concerns);
- Other experts from MSU who know or travel in the country in question, for additional insight and an independent assessment of pertinent concerns;
- Additional State Department sources (e.g., OSAC information or desk officers);
- MSU faculty on the ground in the host country, or colleagues in those countries, for their own independent views regarding current or evolving conditions; and,
- Colleagues from other colleges with students or programs in the country.
- Once a program is suspended, the suspension holds until a waiver is granted or after a status review triggered when the State Department lifts a travel warning.
- Faculty leaders may renew a request for a waiver if the Committee denies a request. For a renewed request to be considered by the Committee, it must include new or additional information;
- If the Committee denies a requested waiver, the requesting person may appeal the decision to the Provost; in such event, the requesting person must provide the Chair copies of all documents and communications that are provided the Provost;
- When the State Department lifts a Travel Warning, the Committee must re-review all affected programs' status and such does not automatically lift the suspension of program(s).
- If the Committee concurs that a waiver to the Travel Warning policy should be granted, it can recommend approval of the waiver request to the Provost. The Provost makes the final decision on all Travel Warning policy waiver requests.
When a Program is Underway and 1) a Travel Warning is Announced for the First Time, or 2) an Updated or Revised Travel Warning is Announced While a Waiver Exists
- When a program is underway and a Travel Warning has been announced for the first time, but where circumstances pose no immediate threat to student health or safety, the program may be reviewed by the RSAC to evaluate whether a waiver may be warranted. If a waiver is required and the program is reviewed, a recommendation to continue or cancel the program will be made to the Provost. The Provost has final authority to immediately cancel or alter the program.
- If a Travel Warning is announced for a limited time period (for circumstances such as serious weather conditions or elections), the Director of Study Abroad or the Travel Security Analyst will consult with the Committee Chair to inform him of the announcement, discuss its impact on the program and determine whether a full review by the Committee is warranted.
- In the case of an immediate threat to student health, safety, or welfare, the Director of Study Abroad or the Travel Security Analyst has discretion to suspend a program and begin evacuation proceedings immediately. Such action will be immediately communicated to the Dean of International Studies and Programs, the Risk and Security Assessment Committee Chair, and the Provost.
When students elect to participate in other institutions' study abroad programs that take place in countries without Travel Warnings, the Office of Study Abroad provides these students with considerable support. This support includes assistance with program selection and application as well as the transfer of credit and financial aid/scholarships. However, MSU WILL NOT provide any support to students who wish to participate in non-MSU study abroad programs located in countries with Travel Warnings. Should a student wish to study on a non-MSU program in a country with a Travel Warning, the student may be able to transfer credit (based on the standard transfer credit procedure applied to any student wishing to transfer credit from another institution), but MSU will not process or transfer financial aid, scholarships or insurance coverage, and will not maintain the student's enrollment at MSU.