Overseas Travel and Fieldwork

Staff and students often travel overseas on university business. Heads of department maintain a responsibility for the health and safety of their staff and students when they travel overseas for university business. The Overseas Travel and Fieldwork policy statements below set out the arrangements for the safe management of overseas travel, including:

  • risks involved in overseas work
  • risk assessment
  • FCO Travel Advice
  • insurance
  • contingency planning
  • health matters


Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice

The FCO website carries up-to-date travel advice for over 200 countries. It should be used as the basis for informing all those travelling on University business of the risks that they might face. Although the advice pertains to the safety of British travellers, it is relevant to other nationalities as British insurance companies use it to determine the extent or validity of insurance cover.
The FCO may advise against all travel, or against all but essential travel, to a country or parts of a country. In all cases where the FCO advises against travel, a written risk assessment must be prepared, approved by the head of department, and submitted to the University Safety Office for review. While the ultimate authority to approve travel rests with the head of department, he or she is expected to take into account the Safety Office’s comments.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice

As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

University Insurance initial advice is:

"As per the guidance issued by the FCO, anyone who should return, needs to as soon as possible. The University insurance policy will only offer extremely limited cover if the FCO advice is disregarded and this will definitely include the exclusion of emergency evacuation cover as well as cancellation or curtailment. The best advice would be to contact AON Protect (the emergency assistance team) and if they can confirm that there is no way for them to return, then full cover is likely to operate.  If there are any claims from anyone who has stayed in country against FCO advice then it is likely that our insurers will ask for evidence that they could not return so it is definitely best to contact AON Protect if they are looking to continue using the policy."


General Note:  The University's Silver  Group (comprising the VC, her senior leadership team and college representatives) have previously advised that, when considering travel to areas affected by the coronavirus (as listed in the PHE’s advice to travellers which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) and to which the FCO advise against all but ‘essential’ travel, it is unlikely that research, teaching and other University business will be considered essential, although there may be exceptions such as travel connected with tackling the coronavirus outbreak. 
This should be factored into any risk assessments. The FCO’s advice is likely to change and departments should check the FCO’s website for up-to-date guidance.
  • having addressed the above point, any risk assessment must also detail any safety measures regarding the location, accommodation, in-country travel, and means of avoiding infection.
  • if you are applying for University Insurance, via the TIRS programme, you will also need to submit the authorised risk assessment to Insurance and an additional premium may be required to arrange travel insurance
  • if you are applying for insurance from elsewhere, you will need to check your insurance provider's terms and conditions, to ensure appropriate cover is in place. 
  • The requirement for an authorised risk assessment and submission to the Safety Office applies, regardless of whether your insurance is obtained via the University or elsewhere.
  • A risk assessment proforma should be available from your department. If not, please use the following form: travel and fieldwork risk assessment template



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