Policy governing stays abroad
Policy governing stays abroad
The University of Geneva has an excellent international reputation. It is open to the world, both in its teaching and its research, and encourages:
- staff members to acquire international experience by spending time abroad;
- students to go on international exchanges during their studies. Students’ safety is a priority for the University, particularly with regard to their choice of host country.
The Rectorate has drawn up a travel risk policy that takes into account the increased safety risks in certain areas of the world that members of the University community may travel to for their work or their studies. The aim of this policy is to make staff members and students aware of the risks and ensure they have as much information as possible so that they can make the right decisions concerning their stay abroad, particularly regarding high-risk areas.
It should be noted that the University of Geneva does not compel or require staff members or students to travel to areas where there are increased risks to their health and safety. The final decision falls upon the staff member or student concerned, who remains free to cancel or postpone their stay abroad at any time.
Scope of application
The principles set out below apply to staff members and students in undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing education at the University of Geneva who are planning to go abroad as part of their professional work or academic studies, in particular for an internship or exchange abroad.
This policy does not apply to personal or non-professional travel, or travel undertaken outside of a student's academic studies.
Requirements before traveling abroad
Staff members and students are advised to make the necessary arrangements for their stay abroad as early as possible.
A. Get informed
Before going abroad, staff members and students must get information on the risks relating to their stay abroad, particularly concerning the situation in the host country, by consulting:
- the website of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs;
- the website of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which gives detailed information (in French) on the situation in various countries, in particular by publishing regularly updated risk maps;
- important travel websites in the staff member or student's country of origin.
With regard to health risks, staff members and students must know and follow the rules set out by the cantonal and federal health authorities, as well as the rules in place in the host country, by consulting:
- HUG - Geneva University Hospitals;
- the Committee of Travel Medicine Experts;
- the World Health Organization, in particular the Weekly Epidemiological Record and the Disease Outbreak News.
Other websites may also be useful, such as that of ilga, which provides information on countries' sexual orientation laws.
The staff member or student must assess the risks relating to their stay abroad, analyzing the situation in the host country using these sources.
B. Inform your supervisor or sponsor at UNIGE
Staff members and students must inform their supervisor or sponsor at the University of Geneva of their plans to go abroad and the risks of staying in the host country, based on the information gathered, and discuss with them whether the stay abroad is appropriate.
For students who are doing internships or other activities relating to their studies, their sponsor is the University of Geneva teacher responsible for supervising the internship or coordinating the stay abroad. For exchange programs, the sponsor is the academic advisor, who will confirm whether the exchange is essential, and the head of the Academic Exchange Office.
C. Assess the risks
The staff member or student must assess the risk level and discuss it with your supervisor or sponsor based on the information gathered from the sources mentioned above. The University of Geneva uses the regularly updated risk maps available on the website of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MAE). These maps break areas down as follows:
• Green Zone = normal vigilance;
• Yellow Zone = increased vigilance;
• Orange Zone = travel to area not recommended unless absolutely necessary;
• Red Zone = strict warning to avoid area.
D. Procedure for each risk zone
The Rectorate has put in place a specific procedure for each of the MAE's risk zones:
The stay abroad is, as a general rule, authorized by the supervisor or sponsor. The staff member or student must take normal safety precautions.
The stay abroad is, as a general rule, authorized by the supervisor or sponsor. The staff member or student must take normal safety precautions and exercise extreme caution. Safety recommendations will vary depending on the destination.
Stays in orange zones should be avoided wherever possible.
Stays in orange zones are not permitted. The student and their sponsor will find an alternative to the trip or, if possible, postpone the stay.
Stays in red zones are not permitted. The staff member and their supervisor will find an alternative to the trip or, if possible, postpone the stay.
Stays in red zones are not permitted and no exceptions can be granted by the Rectorate. If the student carries out their stay abroad without permission, any activities conducted during the stay will not be recognized as part of their academic studies by the University.
If it has a valid reason, the Rectorate reserves the right to diverge from the above procedure and prohibit a member of the University community from carrying out a stay abroad, regardless of the risk zone in question.
If the staff member or student can show that their stay abroad is essential for their professional work or academic studies and that the trip cannot be postponed, and if their supervisor or sponsor approves the trip, they must submit the appropriate form below to the Sécurité-Missions à l'Etranger (SME) team, which will submit its opinion to the Rectorate for a final decision.
Members of the SME team are appointed by the Rectorate. The team includes at least one representative from the Workplace Health, Environment, Prevention and Safety (STEPS) team, one representative from the Academic Exchange Office and an academic expert.
In the request, the staff member or student must show that:
- the stay abroad is essential for their professional work or academic studies;
- they have obtained approval from their supervisor or sponsor;
- there is no possible alternative to the stay abroad and it is not possible to postpone the trip;
- they are fully aware of the risks relating to their stay and take full responsibility for them;
- they have taken all the necessary preventive measures to limit risk, including by providing, where applicable, the name of a contact person at the host destination;
- they can provide proof that they have taken out repatriation insurance.
Where several members of the University community are traveling abroad together, the precautions apply to, and must be followed by, each member of the group.
The SME team and/or the Rectorate may request that the staff member or student provide additional information in order to assess their case.
Based on the information provided by the staff member or student, the Rectorate will either waive the restriction by requiring the staff member or student to sign a release form (required for students), or will refuse to grant an exception. Exceptions may be subject to additional conditions.
If a student goes abroad even though the Rectorate has refused to grant an exception, or if a student does not fulfill the conditions set out in the exception, or if the student refuses to sign the release form, any activities conducted during their stay will not be recognized as part of their academic studies by the University of Geneva.
F. Before going abroad
Staff members and students must adequately prepare for their stay abroad, in particular by actively working with their supervisor or sponsor in order to provide them with the necessary documents and information within the specified time frame; attending any information sessions regarding their stay abroad; following the safety advice and other recommendations made to them; and gathering the information needed to ensure that their stay is a success.
Prior to departure, the staff member or student must also ensure that:
- their travel documents are in order;
- they have the necessary insurance for their trip;
- they have had the necessary vaccinations.
It is strongly recommend that staff members and students use the travel apps developed by the authorities (e.g., Travel Admin) when traveling to orange or red zones.
It is essential to inform the local Swiss embassy or consulate when traveling to a red or orange zone.
The staff member or student must refer regularly and throughout the duration of their stay to the abovementioned sources of information. If the host country changes zone, the staff member or student must inform their supervisor or sponsor, and the procedure relating to the new zone will apply.
In the event of an itinerary change during their stay, the staff member or student must inform their supervisor or sponsor. If this modification means that the staff member or student will be staying in an orange or red zone, the procedure for that type of zone will apply.
In the event of an accident or emergency during their stay, the staff member or student must inform their supervisor or sponsor and, where applicable, the host university as soon as possible. They must contact the nearest consular service if necessary.
Staff members and students must also inform their supervisor or sponsor of any other change in circumstances that could affect their stay.