Last Updated 30 July 21
In accordance with University policies on fieldwork and overseas travel a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is required for all international travel on University business. This must include consideration of the COVID-19 risk. There is a template available to assist departments in assessing the unique risks posed by the virus: OVERSEAS fieldwork COVID risk assessment template July 21. Please use this current updated version of the template.
The COVID-19 risk assessment is to be completed alongside and in addition to existing departmental travel/fieldwork risk assessment forms that cover other risks. Existing forms should be available from your department. If not, please use the following: travel and fieldwork risk assessment template.
Arrangements for review and approval of international travel
High risk travel
High risk travel is travel to countries / regions where the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) have advised against all travel or all but essential travel, including any ‘red list’ countries.
The Safety Office must review and advise on the suitability of risk assessments for high risk travel.
The Head of Department/ Faculty Board Chair must approve high risk travel, which must be academically essential. Full details, including information on what constitutes academically essential travel, are provided in the International travel approval framework for HIGH RISK travel.
To ensure the review and approval process is expedited, departments should check risk assessments are suitable and sufficient, containing all relevant information, before submission to the Safety Office where this is required. Please refer to this example COVID-19 travel risk assessment, which illustrates a good level of detail. Please allow at least two weeks from submission for the Safety Office to review and respond.
Other travel (other than high risk)
Where there is no FCDO advisory for a country or region, HoD/FBC may delegate approval (e.g. to a supervisor, course director) and there is no requirement for the Safety Office to review the risk assessment. Travel must be academically justified. Full details, including information on what constitutes academically essential travel, are provided in the International travel approval framework OTHER THAN HIGH RISK travel.
If these procedures are not followed, University travel insurance will be invalidated. Travellers are strongly advised to check the terms and conditions outlined Insurance website.
Notice: Given the rapidly changing global context, it is particularly important to keep risk assessments up to date; changes in a county’s status (which the UK government advises may happen at short notice) must be addressed and any action taken in line with official advice. Departments are also reminded to consider their contingency plans and protocols for dealing with repatriation or emergencies in country.
Other important factors to consider when preparing for travel are the entry requirements into the country and re-entry requirements back into the UK. Travellers must refer to Travel abroad and coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Travellers may incur additional costs such as quarantine, PCR tests. They will need to identify how these costs will be met. Information on this can be found at FAQs for staff: here and for students, here.
Divisions are expected to have arrangements for the oversight of international travel during this time. This may include enhanced levels of approval for travel to ‘red list’ countries where deemed appropriate. HoD/FBC approval should be in accordance with these divisional arrangements.
Where staff/ students are already in country, or travelling from and to a different country, the restrictions on travel out of and in to the UK do not apply; any proposed work should still be subject to a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, taking into account the FCDO advice on that country, and in country requirements. These risk assessments should be reviewed by the Safety Office in accordance with FCDO statuses and approved by the HoD/FBC.
Staff and students are strongly advised to take out University travel insurance. If there is a valid reason to take out their own personal insurance, then it is extremely important they still register their trip on TIRS (on line Travel Insurance and Registration System) to ensure the University can track and trace them in the event of major incident. Individuals will also need to check their personal insurance covers them for where they are going and what they are doing.
Careful consideration must be given by departments to the arrangements for ongoing monitoring of the health, safety and welfare of a member of staff/ student/ group of students whilst abroad and the country’s RAG status. This is especially important given that the RAG status of a country can change at short notice, and a change of status can introduce additional costs, e.g. for quarantine on return to the UK. Departments should consider how an instance or outbreak of COVID-19 is to be managed, key points of contact and sources of support, and clarity about the roles of the department and/or the college, as appropriate.
Where research involves in-person interactions with research participants CUREC guidelines should be followed COVID-19: CUREC guidance on research involving human participants | Research Support (ox.ac.uk) .
Staff planning to change their normal place of work to overseas should refer to Overseas working | HR Support (ox.ac.uk) and Overseas Working | Finance Division (ox.ac.uk)