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Evolving Travel Patterns Affect Duty of Care
Delivering on duty of care responsibilities is critical for any university or college looking to help protect its students, faculty and staff while they are traveling domestically or abroad. However, higher ed risk dynamics have changed. Students and faculty members are traveling to more non-traditional locations and travelers are more frequently exposed to increased safety, security and health risks. Thus, reputational risk and responsibilities present higher stakes with the potential for significant financial and legal impacts.

Impact of Round-the-Clock Connectivity
With these changing dynamics in mind, the definition of higher ed duty of care has expanded and evolved along with the advent of 24/7 mobile connectivity. As such, today’s institutions must be able to not only prepare their traveling constituents for possible emergencies but also proactively stay connected with them and be able to confirm their safety in the event of a possible incident.

Best Practices in This Environment
What does this tangibly mean for universities and colleges? To deliver on today’s more rigorous duty of care standards, institutions need a travel risk management program that mitigates risk and proactively maintains a safety and communication framework. Following are five travel risk management best practices for providing optimal duty of care in this new environment.

Assess and Understand International Travel Data
The foundation of a strong travel risk management program requires a clear understanding of an institution’s data as it relates to constituents’ international travel. This means taking the time to determine the types of traveler data collected, where it is stored on various systems across campus, how often it is updated, and who has permission to view or share it. It is also important to evaluate the relevance of the data regarding current institutional travel policies. This step offers an opportunity to identify gaps in relevant traveler data that is being collected, confirm whether data is being kept up to date and learn whether it is being shared among relevant departments and other insurance and/or safety partners for collective safety knowledge benefit.

Set Informed Travel Policies
The next step is using the travel data discovery process to inform and establish centrally managed, institution-wide travel policies that protect the institution’s travelers, gain broad campus approval from key stakeholders and ensure proactive communication for risk mitigation. This includes defining the scope of a university’s responsibility, setting expectations for travelers on safety decision-making, establishing parameters for acceptable risk and expected mitigation on university-sponsored trips and providing a structure when risk changes during a trip.

Streamline Your Risk Management Approach
Many universities unknowingly fall short in their duty of care obligations simply because they lack an effective process that allows them to streamline and implement risk management. They may also be trying to manage their travel risk management manually – a time-consuming behemoth of an undertaking. When implemented well, technology can be helpful in automating key processes and enforcing a streamlined approach that helps mitigate overall risk across an institution’s travel footprint. Establishing a centralized, online travel registry with up-to-date traveler, insurance and trip details can help institutions access relevant data at any moment and ensure that all necessary policy steps have been completed.

Don’t Discount Risk of Smaller Trips
Many universities have adequate risk management procedures in place for their large study abroad programs, but some often ignore smaller, independently organized ad-hoc trips. This scenario can present a greater risk to institutions, as program leaders may be ill-equipped to prepare for, or respond to, emergencies. This can expose an institution to a huge amount of unnecessary liability, as the campus’s duty of care obligations make it responsible for all university-sponsored trips regardless of size. As a best practice, institutions should require all campus-sponsored travel to be evaluated and approved through its travel risk management program to ensure proper preparations and qualifications are confirmed before any trip moves forward.

Maintain Connection with Travelers
While student travelers will have access to their assigned faculty or third-party study abroad program leaders, there is a chance that they may not be in the same vicinity as these contacts when an emergency takes place. For example, they could be taking a weekend trip to a nearby town or attending an event outside of their trip’s group. For this reason, universities and colleges should proactively establish mobile communication protocols with travelers prior to their departure, including providing access to local and campus emergency resources and offering real-time access to emergency alerts about possible incidents in their local areas of travel. They should also establish protocols for students to confirm their safety via an app, SMS text or other means.

New Duty of Care Responsibilities
To meet the needs of traveling students, faculty and staff, today’s higher ed institutions must understand the wider net of responsibilities placed on them to deliver fully on duty of care. Planning for the ever-increasing risks associated with university-sponsored trips should include a comprehensive travel risk management program. By implementing a centrally managed, streamlined approach to travelers’ health and safety, institutions can mitigate unnecessary risks while ensuring participants and organizers are as prepared as possible for potential emergency scenarios.

This article was originally published in July by URMIA Insight.


In October 2018, Chris Kenyon joined Terra Dotta as one of our Business Development Managers in the northeastern territory. His responsibilities include meeting with institutions to demonstrate the value our software can provide for their processes, as well as checking in for next steps and where any outstanding agreements may sit. Chris is constantly on the road or on the phone with his contacts, and you can see Chris in September at the URMIA Conference in Boston.

Before joining Terra Dotta, Chris started in higher education advising students and parents as an Assistant Director of Financial Aid. Since then, he has mostly worked in the technology field selling software to universities and colleges. Chris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from the University of Akron.

Outside of work, Chris enjoys golfing, playing bass in his band, and skiing. One vacation activity Chris has always wanted to try is scuba diving in the Caribbean!

Chris says his favorite part of working at Terra Dotta is “My Mom immigrated from France so the fact that our software helps international students and U.S. students go abroad is pretty awesome. We have a lot of awesome people that work here that I would consider friends."


It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Terra Dotta staff in Chapel Hill were excitedly packing boxes and preparing equipment for a move across town. Back in 2016, Terra Dotta was expanding to the point where the then-current facilities no longer accommodated the growing team. A new location was secured that offered plenty of space and modern conveniences with room to grow.

And grow we did! With the expansion of our solutions and the accompanying development and support teams, Terra Dotta continues to grow our staff in Chapel Hill and around the United States. It became clear that our current location could no longer meet our spatial needs. So at the end of July, the boxes were packed once again and equipment was readied for another move.

Our new location, in the East 54 complex offers greater space and services to meet current and future needs, including room for expansion, retail shopping, restaurants and nearby lodging. Away from the downtown congestion, the complex is convenient to the airport and an easier commute for most staff.

With plenty of windows and an open design, our new digs offer space for expansion and creativity. New features include open bench seating with electronic elevators allowing for seated or standing work. We have also installed new “pods” - special booths for those longer phone calls or video conferences.

We are very excited by our new home and our ability to welcome guests comfortably. Should you find yourself in Chapel Hill, we welcome you to stop in and visit with us. The coffee pot is on!


Terra Dotta started our inaugural partner ecosystem a little more than nine months ago. During this time, we have grown our TD Connect partner profile to seven partners.

The integration with Terra Dotta enables the transmission of shipping documentation, status and much more, thereby allowing for workflow efficiencies for both university staff and administrators, as well as the students and scholars that they serve.

Our partners include
  • Travel booking platform StudentUniverse
  • U.S. mobile phone plan provider studentSIMS
  • English language proficiency assessment platform English3
  • AFS, provider of cultural awareness and skills education through the Global Competence Certificate program
  • Global shipping service provider eShipGlobal
  • Go Cultural International who provides cross-cultural training & assessment
  • Online health & safety training solutions provider PerforMax3

Also during this time, we have improved capabilities with our partners based on client input. In the 19.2 release, we included a new feature in the modern application page, that of an additional services section. In the past, materials were treated as requirements of an application even though doing so might not have aligned best with a client’s application process.

We received a lot of client feedback about this and took note. Now when material is created for some TD Connect partners (currently StudentUniverse and studentSIMS), they are automatically set as optional material items for applicants and appear under a new Additional Services section on the modern application page. These optional materials will not be included in reminders, nor will they be required in order for the submit button to work. In the classic interface, these optional materials will continue to appear in the Materials panel, now with the indicator of “OPTIONAL” noted next to the name.

To learn more about our partners visit our TD Connect partner page. To learn more about how easy it is to set up our partner integrations reach out to your Terra Dotta contact or to Robert Davis our partner program manager.

  conference schedule  

Between printed and online materials, it can be daunting to keep up with the professional literature. Let us help you. Each month we will list several online articles or reports that we hope you will find interesting.

Find an article that you believe others will want to read? Send the link to Here are some to get you started:

An Instructor’s Experiment: Adding Intentional Global Competency into a Pre-Existing Short-Term Study Abroad Program
From Intercultural Learning Hub; featuring TD Connect partner AFS

Five reasons English speakers struggle to learn foreign languages
From The Conversation

25 French HEIs recognised with “Bienvenue en France” label
From The PIE News

Towards new ways of becoming and being international
From University World News

How Gen Z Travels
From Cond‌é Nast Traveler

Criminal Victimization Experienced While Studying Abroad: An Examination of Rates and Other Relevant Factors
From Journal of Studies in International Education

Two Women Who Lost Sons Become A Force To Boost Safety Of Study Abroad
From Forbes

  article roundup

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