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Travel Modification or Suspension

The Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) is charged with monitoring world events to help travelers and sponsoring units manage risk, which can sometimes result in suggested or required changes to itineraries, programs or experiences. 

In some cases (and depending on the type of traveler), the OGSS may advise or order postponement, suspension or evacuation.

Faculty, staff and graduate students

For known travel, the OGSS may inform the unit sponsoring group travel of conditions that might prompt travel modifications, postponement, suspension or evacuation. In other cases, individual travelers may be contacted directly.


The OGSS, in conjunction with the International Travel Risk Assessment Committee (ITRAC), is responsible for considering travel modifications, postponement or suspension for an ongoing or previously approved undergraduate international opportunity if a significant health, safety or security concern is raised regarding that experience. Such circumstances are often tied to changes in U.S. DOS Travel Advisories or the issuance of a CDC Travel Notice Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel (“CDC Warning”) which invokes the Undergraduate International Travel Policy. A new or renewed review of undergraduate opportunities in affected locations impact students in different ways, as described below.

Students not yet on-site

All undergraduate educational opportunities in the identified, affected country(ies) that have not started are immediately suspended. However, the unit sponsoring travel (or the individual’s faculty/staff sponsor) may request travel permission as described in the Undergraduate International Travel Policy.

If Northwestern decides to permanently suspend a study abroad program for reasons of health, safety or security, various refund policies apply.

Students currently abroad

If there is no threat of imminent harm, continuing undergraduate experiences in such locations requires input from the International Travel Risk Assessment Committee (ITRAC). The OGSS will confer with the the unit sponsoring travel (or the individual’s faculty/staff sponsor) to make a timely request to the ITRAC. In preparing this request, the author may consult with the director of the relevant unit overseeing the program or experience, any on-site faculty or staff, U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council staff analysts, Northwestern faculty/staff regional experts, peer institutions’ international health, safety and security specialists, consultants from security information service providers, and/or other appropriate individuals, as available. Typical outcomes may include, but are not limited to, no material program changes or  modifications to program housing, activities or schedule.

In circumstances where students are perceived to be in imminent danger and the window of opportunity for action is short, evacuation procedures apply.