Study abroad

Policy regarding risk areas

Policy regarding risk areas

The University of Geneva enjoys a privileged international standing. It is open to the world both in its teaching and its research and encourages:

  • its members to acquire international experience. As a result, members of the UNIGE community regularly travel to all corners of the world;
  • its students to embark on international exchanges during their studies. Our students' safety is a priority for us, particularly with regard to their choice of host country.

In light of increased security risks in certain areas of the world where members of the University community sometimes travel for the purpose of work or study, the Rectorate has defined a travel risk policy. The aim of this policy is to make staff and students aware of risks and ensure they are in a position to make appropriate decisions concerning their stay abroad - particularly in so-called risk areas -  by being as well-informed as possible.

It should be noted that the University of Geneva does not compel or oblige its staff or students to travel to areas where there is increased risk to health or safety. The final decision falls upon the student or staff member concerned, who remains free to cancel or postpone their trip at any time.

Scope of application

The principles set out below apply to staff and students in basic, advanced and continuing education at the University of Geneva who are planning to undertake a stay abroad within the context of their professional activities or academic studies, in particular with relation to an internship or exchange abroad.  
This policy does not apply to personal or non-professional journeys, or journeys undertaken outside of the context of the academic programme.


Procedure to be observed before going abroad

Staff and students are advised to undertake the necessary arrangements  for their trip sufficiently in advance of their departure.

A. Do your research
Before going abroad, staff and students have an obligation to inform themselves of the sensitivities surrounding their stay abroad, in particular the situation in the host country, by consulting:

For information on health risks, we recommend consulting the following websites:

The staff member or student must base their assessment of the sensitivity of a stay abroad on an analysis of the situation in the host country conducted with the help of these sources.


B. Inform your supervisor or sponsor at UNIGE
Staff have an obligation to inform their supervisors - or in the case of students, their sponsor -- at the University of Geneva of their travel plans and of the risks involved in the host country based on the information gathered, and to discuss the appropriateness of the trip with him or her.

In cases where students are undertaking internships or academic activities relating to their programme abroad, their sponsor will be the University of Geneva teacher responsible for supervising the internship or co-ordinating the trip abroad. For mobility programmes, the sponsor will be the member of  the International Relations Service in charge of their application.


C. Evaluate the level of risk
The level of risk must be evaluated and discussed with your supervisor or sponsor based on the information gathered from the sources mentioned above.  Maps are available on the website of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MAE). These maps define risk areas as follows:
    •    Green Zone = normal vigilance;
    •    Yellow Zone = increased vigilance;
    •    Orange Zone = travel to area not recommended unless absolutely necessary;
    •    Red Zone = formal warning to avoid area.


Procedure to be observed according to risk area

Based on the risk areas identified by the MAE, the Rectorate has put in place the following procedure :

Green Zone
The trip may be authorised by the supervisor/sponsor. The staff member or student agrees to observe the normal safety precautions.

Yellow Zone
The trip may be authorised by the supervisor/sponsor. The staff member or student agrees to observe the normal safety precautions and to exercise extreme caution.

Orange Zone
Trips are not authorised. The staff member and their supervisor / the student and their sponsor will find an alternative to the trip or postpone the stay.

If the staff member or student can prove that their trip is essential to the pursuit of their professional activities or academic studies respectively, and  if their supervisor or sponsor approves the trip, they must contact, together with their supervisor or sponsor, the group Sécurité-Missions à l'Etranger (SME), which will submit its opinion to the Rectorate for a final decision.

The staff member's/student's request must show:

  • that they have obtained the approval of their supervisor or sponsor, respectively;
  • that there is no possible alternative to making the journey and that it would not be possible to postpone the trip;
  • that they have taken all the necessary preventative measures to limit risk by providing, where applicable, the name of a contact person at the host destination;
  • that they have full knowledge of the risks associated with their trip and take full responsibility for same.

The staff member concerned must inform any members of the university community accompanying them of the risks involved and the measures applicable with regard to their trip abroad.

The group SME and/or the Rectorate may request that the staff member/student provide any additional information required for the evaluation of their case.

In light of the information provided by the staff member/student, the Rectorate will either waive the restriction by requiring the staff member/student to sign a release form, or will refuse to grant an exemption. Exemptions may be subject to additional conditions.

If a student undertakes a stay abroad despite the Rectorate's refusal to grant an exemption, or if a student does not respect the conditions set out in the exemption, or if the student refuses to sign the release of liability, any activities performed during said stay will not be validated by the University of Geneva as part of their academic studies.

Red Zone

For staff members, the same conditions apply as for the orange zone.

Students are not authorised to study in red zones and no exemptions will be provided by the Rectorate.

If the student undertakes a trip in spite of this restriction, the University of Geneva will not validate any academic activities performed during the course of their stay as part of their studies.



Steps to take before your stay abroad

Staff members and students undertake to adequately prepare for their stay abroad, in particular by actively working with their supervisor/sponsor by providing them with the necessary documents and information within the specified time frame and, if applicable, by taking part in information sessions regarding their trip, as well as by following the safety advice and various recommendations provided to them, and by gathering the necessary information to ensure a successful stay.  

Prior to departure, staff/students also undertake to:

  • ensure their travel documents are in order;
  • ensure that they possess the neccesary insurance for their trip;
  • ensure that they have had the necessary vaccinations;
  • return the information form to their supervisor/sponsor respectively, in the event that they are travelling to an orange zone area or, for staff members, a red zone area. This form is optional if you are travelling to a green or yellow zone area.

The student undertakes where applicable to provide the release of liability form to the SME group in the event that they are granted an orange zone exemption by the Rectorate.

The staff member/student undertakes to refer regularly and throughout the duration of their stay to the abovementioned sources of information. In the event of a change of zone of the host country, the staff member/student undertakes to inform their supervisor/sponsor, and the procedure relating to the new zone will apply.

In the event of an itinerary change during the course of the stay, the staff member/student undertakes to inform their supervisor/sponsor respectively. If this modification implies a stay in an orange or red zone area, the procedure relating to the new zone will apply.

In the event of an accident or emergency during the stay, the staff member/student will inform their supervisor/sponsor as soon as possible.


Download the information form for staff

Download the information form for students