While there is an inherent risk associated with all travel, certain regions of the world call for heightened caution and additional preparation to ensure the health and safety of the WPI community. All WPI students, faculty, and staff undertaking WPI-Sponsored travel are required to fully understand the risks of their travel, including any heightened security and medical risks in travel to High-Risk Destinations. No one is required or will be coerced to travel to any location by anyone (e.g., by a faculty member, supervisor, or advisor). Advance planning is the best way to mitigate international travel risks.
International Travel Risk Policy and High-Risk Travel
International Travel Risk Policy
Under the terms of the WPI International Travel Risk Policy (''Travel Risk Policy'') students are not allowed to travel under WPI-Sponsored travel to: Countries rated Level 3 or Level 4 on the US Department of State travel advisory list, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Health Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel and High or Extreme Travel Risk destinations, as defined by International SOS Global Risk Ratings; or those locations additionally identified by rhe Provost, upon recommendation by the GTRRT, as representing significant health or safety risks for the university's travelers. Locations within countries may be characterized with different State Department travel advisories than the country itself. Travel to locations that are characterized by a Level 3 or Level 4 within a country that is characterized as a Level 1 or Level 2 are also considered under a “Travel Warning” for the purposes of this document.
For more information, see the International Travel Risk Policy page.
Global Travel Review and Response Team (GTRRT)
The Global Travel Review and Response Team (GTRRT) is responsible for defining heightened risk travel for the WPI community. WPI students are not permitted to travel to high-risk destinations on WPI-sponsored travel unless they obtain an exception from the GTRRT. The GTRRT refers to a WPI committee that is tasked with assessing travel-related risk, considering requests for exceptions to this policy, and responding to and offering support to individuals and groups abroad during emergencies in consultation with International SOS. The GTRRT is coordinated through the Global School, 508-831-5547 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“WPI-Sponsored International Travel” means all travel by WPI students, faculty, and staff that is part of academic, scholarly, or business work in which the traveler is representing WPI, that is funded, in whole or in part by WPI funds (regardless of purpose) or by a grant, foundation, company, or other university. Such travel may include, but is not limited to travel for: teaching, research, academic study, attendance at a conference, official global project programs, internships, volunteer or work programs and other experiential learning, field studies, performances, athletic contests, or trips abroad in connection with a WPI-recognized student organization, academic or administrative unit.
Definition of High Risk Travel
WPI defines high risk travel as: countries rated Level 3 or Level 4 on the US Department of State travel advisory list, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Health Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel and High or Extreme Travel Risk destinations, as defined by International SOS Global Risk Ratings.
- Assumption of Risk and Travel Waiver
International SOS Travel Security Consultation
To assist in understanding the location specific risks associated with your travel, and to provide recommendations for preferred medical facilities, safe areas for lodging, and ground transportation providers, International SOS will provide you with a travel security brief.
Please use the template below to email International SOS. You are encouraged to review a draft of your email to International SOS with WPI's Global Risk Management (email@example.com) to ensure key review elements are not omitted prior to emailing the template to International SOS.
High-Risk Travel Exception Petition
WPI students, or faculty and staff traveling with students, may petition the GTRRT for an exception to the prohibition imposed on student travel to High-Risk Destinations on WPI-Sponsored International Travel.
Students, or faculty and staff who are traveling with students, seeking an exception must submit a High-Risk Travel Exception Petition to the GTRRT demonstrating a detailed knowledge of the risks involved in their proposed travel to a High-Risk Destination and the steps they are taking or plan to take to mitigate those risks. The GTRRT will review the petition, meet with the petitioner and their advisor, as applicable, and make a recommendation to the Provost. The Provost (or designee) will decide whether to grant an exception.
An exception may be granted when:
- There are academic and research objectives which can only be achieved through travel to the proposed locations, and
- The safety and security risks posed by the travel can be adequately mitigated.
Please contact Global Risk Management (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any assistance or questions regarding this petition.
The GTRRT’s review of this request does not eliminate or reduce risk to travelers but rather informs the University of the proposed plans and protections in place for travel.
Step 1: Initial Consultation
Contact Global Risk Management (email@example.com) as soon as possible in your travel planning process.
We will confirm the application of WPI’s international travel medical insurance for the destination.
Step 2: Petition Preparation and Submission Deadlines
Plan to submit your petition at least two (2) months in advance of the proposed travel.Petitions submitted less than four (4) weeks prior to departure will not be allowed.
* Due to Covid-19, petitions are currently being accepted four(4) weeks prior to departure.
Group petitions should be initiated during course planning prior to the start of the term. Initial approval may be granted once all the steps are completed; however, a second review is required once course enrollment is complete. Petitions submitted less than four (4) weeks prior to departure will not be allowed.
Consult and attach the following location-specific documents with your petition:
- U.S. State Department - Travel Advisory (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html)
- U.S. State Department - Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Country Security Report
- Centers for Disease Control Travel Health Notice (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices)
- International SOS Country Specific Overview – WPI Membership Portal
- International SOS Travel Security Consultation – Email a detailed summary of your proposed travel using the Travel Security Brief Request Template in Appendix A to firstname.lastname@example.org and cc: email@example.com. You should review a draft of your email with Global Risk Management to ensure key elements are not omitted prior to emailing International SOS.
Step 3: Travel Endorsement Letters
Submit two letters (email format will suffice) endorsing your travel from: (1) the faculty or staff member (advisor) responsible for the trip, even if the faculty or staff member is not traveling, and (2) the faculty or staff member’s Department or Division Head (as applicable).
In the travel endorsement letters, the faculty or staff member should specifically address the necessity for the travel and the risks and mitigation efforts of the traveler.
Step 4: Mandatory Safety and Security Training
Ensure that all travelers complete online safety training modules (Student Travel - Your Security) & (Student Travel - Your Health & Well-Being), in addition to completing the Pre-departure Orientation training on canvas, prior to submitting your petition.
Step 5: Submission, Review, and Decision
Completed petitions must include:
- Completed petition form.
- Location-specific documents, such as current State Department, CDC and/or International SOS advisories/alerts in effect.
- Two (2) travel endorsement letters.
- Certification of online training and pre-departure orientation completion
The GTRRT will review the petition, meet with the traveler and their advisor (if needed), and make a recommendation to the Provost. The Provost (or designee) will decide whether to grant an exception. The Provost’s decision on the exception petition is final.
If the exception is granted, the students, and any faculty and staff who are traveling with students, must sign the Assumption of Risk and Travel Waiver prior to traveling and submit it to the GTRRT. This waiver must be signed by each individual traveling, and undergraduate students must also obtain the signature of their parent/guardian.
The Provost may also require students, and faculty and staff who are traveling with students, to take further steps to mitigate risks, including, for example, additional health, safety and security precautions, further training, special waivers, and/or additional insurance coverage.
SUBMIT YOUR PETITION NOW:Once you have gathered the required documents please submit your High Risk Travel Exception Petition.
U.S. State Department
In January 2018, the State Department rolled out a new system of travel advisories to give U.S. travelers information about the relative safety of different countries. It replaces all prior State Department travel warnings and travel alerts. Under this system, all countries are ranked in one of four levels according to a variety of factors, such as terrorism, crime, and natural disasters:
- Level 1 — Exercise normal precautions
- Level 2 — Exercise increased caution
- Level 3 — Reconsider travel
- Level 4 — Do not travel
Level 4 is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so.
In addition to the overall travel advisory level for each country, the State Department may issue security alerts with a different advisory level for a specific area or region within a country. For example, as of February 2020, Mexico as a whole was ranked Level 2, but because of violent crime several states, including Colima and Guerrero, were designated as Level 4 and several others including Jalisco and Morelos were designated as Level 3.
The State Department reviews Level 1 and Level 2 advisories annually and Level 3 and 4 advisories every six months.
- Content adopted from EduRisk
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues three levels of travel health notices. The most serious is the Warning Level 3 to avoid nonessential travel because of widespread serious outbreaks of a disease (such as the Zika virus in 2016, COVID-19 in 2020) or other public health concerns that are a high risk. Other levels are:
- Watch Level 1: Practice Usual Precautions (“Usual baseline risk or slightly above baseline risk for destination and limited impact to the traveler”)
- Alert Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions (“Increased risk in defined settings or associated with specific risk factors; certain high-risk populations may wish to delay travel to these destinations”)
International SOS' travel security risk ratings evaluate the threat posed to travelers by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) as well as violent and petty crime. Other factors, such as the robustness of the transport infrastructure, the state of industrial relations, the effectiveness of the security and emergency services and the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters are also considered where they are of sufficient magnitude to impact the overall risk environment for travelers.
Countries are designated a classification on a scale of insignificant to extreme. WPI students are not permitted to High or Extreme Travel Risk destinations, as defined by these International SOS Global Risk Ratings.