General University Reference Utility
To state the approval guidelines that apply to any international group travel sponsored by the University.
This policy applies only to group travel. Arrangements for individual students to travel abroad for educational purposes (research, internship, collecting data for research, etc.) are not covered by this policy.
Student group travel is a trip of two or more students accompanied by a University employee with a purpose that is relevant to the University's academic mission. Each trip must be approved at the appropriate University level, and a University employee is required to accompany the group. The employee is "in charge" of the activity and must be acting within the scope of his or her employment.
No international program may be advertised or represented as approved by or sponsored by the University without following one of the following methods of approval/review.
- UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION ABROAD. International undergraduate programs offered for academic credit exclusively outside the United States.
- This includes all full year, fall, spring, or summer semester programs administered by Education Abroad and other Penn State units (e.g. Outreach or campus offices of continuing education). Also included are undergraduate reciprocal exchange programs. All undergraduate education abroad programs offered for academic credit must secure initial approval by the associate dean or director of academic affairs of the sponsoring Penn State college or campus. Programs are then reviewed by the Directorate of Education Abroad and ultimately approved or not-approved by Global Programs. This is a one-time only review process.
- GRADUATE EDUCATION ABROAD. International graduate courses offered for academic credit exclusively outside the United States.
- All graduate courses offered for academic credit to be delivered in whole or in part outside the United States are required to obtain the approval of the associate dean of The Graduate School and must complete the Graduate Education Abroad Course Development Checklist for review by Global Programs. Review is required for each successive course implementation. [Please consult the Expedited Review Process of Limited Off-site Course Offerings. When a program wishes to offer existing courses in this manner, the Graduate School limits the number of courses to three, after which the program must seek approval to deliver the degree program in this venue.]
- EMBEDDED EDUCATION ABROAD. International undergraduate and graduate programs that include a brief experience abroad as a minor component (one credit or less) of a course for which the substantive content is provided within the United States.
- Courses that include a brief experience abroad as a minor component (one credit or less) for which the substantive content is provided within the United States are required to obtain the approval of the associate dean or director of academic affairs of the sponsoring Penn State college or campus (and the associate dean of the Graduate School for courses to be offered at the 500 and 800 levels) and must submit the program online for review by Global Programs. Review is required for each successive implementation.
- Embedded program leaders are required to participate in an emergency preparedness session offered by the Office of Global Programs prior to leading an embedded program. Once program leaders have participated in an emergency preparedness session offered by the Office of Global Programs, they will be required to retake the session after two years if they lead another embedded program abroad.
- NON-CREDIT BEARING INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS. International undergraduate and graduate programs offered outside the United States exclusively or in-part and for which participants do not earn academic credit.
- All non-credit bearing, international programs must secure approval by the associate dean or director of academic affairs of the sponsoring Penn State college or campus and must complete the International Group Risk Management Checklist for review by Risk Management. Review is required for each successive implementation.
- OTHER INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: All other international student travel requires approval from the appropriate dean or chancellor. Travel arrangements may vary, and can be made through any of the approved University sources.
Student group travel to locations within the continental United States will range from an extended stay in another part of the country to a trip within the state. As with field trips, if students are traveling as a group organized by the University, then they must be accompanied by a University employee acting within the scope of his or her employment, and appropriate approvals must be in place.
Academic field trips are common and range from an afternoon outing to a several-day trip out of town. Risk and liability issues have recently emerged concerning academic field trips. At the present time, no University policy exists for local and domestic field trips. It is important that University departments and faculty/staff/students follow adequate procedures to ensure the safety of field trip participants and to reduce liability and risk to the University.
- These guidelines were taken from the Financial Officers' Web site. Please note that this document is not an official policy statement. The Department of Risk Management should be consulted if you have any questions concerning safety and/or liability issues when planning a student field trip. The Department of Risk Management maintains a Web site at http://www.controller.psu.edu/divisions/riskmanagement/index.html. It currently has sections of the Web site relating to insurances, contracts, and a listing of charter bus operators who have met the University's minimum auto liability insurance requirements.
- The following are suggested guidelines that should be followed when planning an academic field trip:
- Any external field trip agreements, applications, releases or similar documents, all of which are considered "contracts", must be reviewed by the Department of Risk Management and signed by an Assistant Treasurer in advance of the field trip (in accordance with policy FN11).
- A University employee is required to accompany a group if the field trip is sponsored by the University.
- A campus, college, or department should retain a list of students traveling on a field trip. A contact person, who remains on campus, should be identified in the event of an emergency.
- An itinerary should be available to the academic department or campus, especially if a field trip involves visiting multiple locations.
- Emergency communications should be available at all times. A working cell phone would be sufficient for this purpose. If the field trip is in a remote location, emergency transportation should be available at all times during the field trip.
- Personal vehicles should not be used to transport students to the field trip location. The University should provide transportation if the event is sponsored by the University.
- For lengthy field trips in distant locations within the United States or its territories, the Risk Management International Travel Checklist form (pdf) should be completed and followed. Unlike international travel, this form does not require Dean or CEO approval. It also does not need to be forwarded to the Department of Risk Management. However, it provides a good format to follow for lengthy out-of-state visits.
- To help protect both the University and its employees, the following should occur:
- Each college and/or campus location should have a procedure for faculty to notify their respective department or campus of field trips in advance.
- The purpose of the trip must be relevant to the University's academic mission and any University employee in charge of or helping to supervise the field trip must be acting within the scope of his or her employment.
- If an injury occurs on a field trip, the appropriate University injury report forms (different ones for employee vs. nonemployee) must be completed. The accident should be reported immediately to the College or Campus Safety Officer.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Academic Field Trips
- How is an academic field trip differentiated from other trips (e.g., student organization trips)?
- An academic field trip is defined as an academic experience sponsored by the University. By definition, the University is in direct control of the event if it is sponsoring the trip.
- What if the event is not "academic" in nature, but is more a "social" experience that is still sponsored by the University?
- If the University is the official sponsor of the event, then the University needs to be in direct control and assume responsibility for the event.
- How is "direct control" defined?
- If the University sponsors the event, the University is responsible for properly supervising the activities of the event.
- If a student organization sponsors a field trip, is this under the "direct control" of the University?
- o Risk Management defines a field trip to mean an academic class experience under the control of a Penn State faculty employee and, therefore, by definition no student organization can sponsor a field trip.
- Is a University employee required to accompany a group if the field trip is an academic requirement or a University-sponsored academic experience?
- Risk Management approves charter bus agreements. If a department or group charters a bus for an event (e.g., a Penn State football game), is the trip "sponsored" by the University?
- Risk Management reviews any bus charter agreements that are in the name of the University and it is presumed that a University employee accompanies the charter. If an employee is not accompanying the charter, the bus trip should not occur.
- Is the University responsible for an individual's behavior on a field trip? Should a "Standards of Conduct Agreement" be utilized?
- The University is not responsible for the behavior of individuals. The University would not require a conduct agreement, but it may be considered for use, and sometimes is, by an individual department or campus.
- What type of emergency preparedness or communications is required for field trips?
- Emergency communications should be available at all times on a field trip. A working cell phone would be sufficient for this purpose. If the field trip is in a remote location, emergency transportation should be available at all times during the field trip.
- Can personal vehicles be used to transport individuals to a University-sponsored field trip?
- If the activity is sponsored and planned by the University, travel is to be provided by the University and would include an employee accompanying the group to and from the activity. In other words, the University has a duty to provide safe transportation for University-sponsored events.
For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Corporate Controller.
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Revision History (and effective dates):