Other Graduate Education Policies
GSAD-920 Graduate Student Policy for International Travel
The University recognizes that research is central to its mission and may require travel to other countries. On occasion, research by graduate students may benefit from travel to countries that are restricted for travel by the University. Travel to countries on the restricted list involves extra preparation to avoid, minimize, or manage risk. International travel by members of the University is managed by Global programs via the Travel Safety Network (TSN). Global Programs staff monitor events (e.g., political unrest, infectious outbreaks, natural disasters, etc.) that may impact travel. The TSN enables Penn State to more quickly and efficiently provide travelers with emergency assistance (e.g., medical or security), in the event of an emergency or crisis overseas.
Travel Safety Network: The Travel Safety Network (TSN) at Penn State is a database and network of resources to support international engagement across the institution and enhance the safety and security of University travelers.
University Affiliated International Travel: Any travel by graduate students to an international destination which is for educational, research, or business purposes tied to the traveler’s affiliation with the University. This includes travel by groups affiliated with the University, such as Recognized Student Organizations and travel to professional conferences/meetings regardless of the funding source including if the University travelers’ costs are paid for by an outside organization.
University Affiliated Student Group International Travel: All international travel outlined in Policy FN20, as well as international travel by Recognized Student Organizations which includes at least two students. This includes travel to professional conferences/meetings, even if paid for by an outside organization.
- All graduate students traveling either individually or in a group for university purposes, or with University funding, must record all international travel in the Travel Safety Network (TSN) database prior to departure. This includes travel for international conferences, research, and internships.
- Registration with the TSN is required prior to departure for all university-affiliated international travel (see the University’s international travel policy TR01 International Travel Requirements). Failure to do so may result in travelers being denied reimbursement for travel expenses.
- A new travel record for each university-affiliated international trip must be completed at least 30 days before departure. Once the TSN record has been reviewed, the traveler will receive a confirmation email confirming they have met the requirements to record their travel.
- Penn State considers the safety and security of its staff and students to be of the utmost importance. Therefore, graduate students wishing to travel to countries restricted by the University for student travel (see University Restricted Travel), using University funds, in fulfillment of degree requirements, and/or carrying out University-sponsored or affiliated activities, are required to file a request for approval of such travel with the University’s International Restricted Travel Committee (IRTC) via the Travel Safety Network (TSN), prior to commitment of University resources or to finalizing arrangements (e.g., purchase of plane tickets) towards such travel.
- Given the risks associated with travel to countries restricted by the University for student travel, failure to complete timely registration with the TSN and obtain approval for travel before departure will result in non-compliance with the University’s international travel policy TR01 International Travel Requirements and such travel may not be eligible for reimbursement. Additional consequences may apply based on the Graduate School’s and department’s discretion.
Graduate students wishing to travel internationally should complete the steps below to secure approval for their travel before departure. More detailed information can be found in the Procedure section.
- Consult the Restricted Country List on the Global Programs website to determine if the travel is to a restricted country.
- If the destination is not to a restricted country, register for travel in the TSN database at least 30 days prior to departure.
- If the destination is on the restricted country list, register for travel in the TSN database and provide all information requested, including a restricted travel petition, 2-3 months before departure.
Graduate students traveling to countries not on the Restricted Country List
- A graduate student wishing to travel to another country for university research purposes and/or with university funding must first consult the Restricted Country List on the Global Programs website. Students traveling to countries NOT on the list must then register for travel in the Travel Safety Network (TSN) database at least 30 days prior to departure.
Graduate students traveling to countries on the Restricted Country List
- Graduate students traveling to countries on the Restricted Country List on the Global Programs website must register their travel in the TSN database AND file a restricted travel petition. Petitions should be submitted about 2-3 months in advance, but no later than 30 days prior to departure.
- A student wishing to travel to a country restricted by the University for student travel should research potential risks of traveling to that country and formulate an emergency action plan to address those risks. This information is necessary for the restricted travel petition. The Global Programs’ website and other resources such as websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Department of State, provide information concerning the specific risks for these countries.
- Information provided through the TSN will be reviewed by the International Restricted Travel Committee (IRTC), which consists of the Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs of the Graduate School, the University’s Risk Officer, the Director of Student Engagement and Operations for Global Programs, the Director of Education Abroad, and the Global Safety Manager. The IRTC will make a recommendation to approve the request, to deny the request, or to ask that the student provide clarification or additional information.
- If additional information is requested, the student will be contacted by the Global Safety Manager. Upon reviewing the additional information presented, the IRTC will determine their recommendation.
- The IRTC’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Vice Provost for Global Programs (or designee) for their review and recommendations, and then to the Provost, who will make the final decision regarding approval. The student will receive an email from the Graduate School confirming whether the request has been approved or denied. If the Provost denies the request, the decision is considered final and the graduate student may not undertake the proposed trip.
- All graduate students traveling to any international locale will automatically receive international emergency medical insurance coverage for their travel upon registration with the TSN. Additionally, graduate students must complete emergency preparedness training at the appropriate intervals prior to travel.
- Global Programs has responsibility to monitor changing worldwide conditions. Global Programs will inform the Provost and the Graduate School’s Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs should conditions in the proposed country of travel change significantly between the time a request has been approved and the date on which travel is to be undertaken. Based upon new information, the Provost may reverse the decision and deny the request. If the request is subsequently denied based on this new information, Global Programs will inform the Graduate School’s Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs, who will notify the student, faculty adviser, and college/school administrator for graduate education.
- All students are required to maintain regular contact with their adviser via email, Skype, etc., during the length of the trip and should monitor their Penn State email for any updates from Global Programs. The student and adviser should determine the frequency and type of contact depending on the destination and student’s itinerary prior to the trip (e.g., daily, weekly).
- The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School will keep a record of all requests for travel.
Revised May 3, 2019