BLOG: Duty of Care and Higher Education

At any given time, a number of students, professors and staff may be traveling for a class or on behalf of your higher education institution. Does your school’s risk management office have an automated way of advising them if they are traveling to a high-risk area or alerting them if an extreme weather event or terrorist activity has developed in close proximity to them? Do you have a platform that facilitates communication with large numbers of your travelers in the event of an emergency? If not, you’ll want to fill those gaps in your travel program right away. Failing to do so puts traveler safety at risk and opens up your school to potential liability issues. The good news is that it’s not difficult to provide a basic duty-of-care solution for your travelers.


At a minimum, providing pre-trip advisories, incident alerts, traveler tracking and traveler communication is a good start for your school’s duty-of-care plan. In the past, these duty-of-care components were often put together piecemeal, as there wasn’t one solution that encompassed all of them. Furthermore, those tasks were often performed manually, slowing down processes that needed to be accomplished quickly to determine the well-being of travelers.


If you have students, faculty or staff that have plans to travel to an area in which you’re not entirely sure of the safety of the location, you surely want to advise them of any potential dangers before they journey to that destination and then decide if you’ll try to mitigate risks or simply cancel the trip. Doing your own research on a location is time-consuming and not necessary, as there’s now technology that will automatically send pre-trip intelligence to travelers based on the threat-level of that particular destination.


Your travelers may never venture to locations deemed dangerous, however, it’s possible that an incident such as terrorist activity or extreme weather could happen around them in “safe” places. Therefore, it’s important to know when incidents like these occur and what the severity level is, as well as if your travelers are in close enough proximity to where they could be potentially affected. Travel risk management technology can now automatically alert your travelers and risk management department when these types of incidents occur, alleviating the burden of trying to determine what constitutes an actual severe, threat incident.


Once you know of an incident that has occurred, does your institution have a quick and easy way to communicate with all potentially affected travelers to find out if they are okay or if they need assistance? Individually reaching out to each traveler may not be feasible when time is of the essence, especially in larger higher education institutions that have hundreds of students, faculty and staff on the road at any given time. Imagine a travel risk management dashboard where you can send out a message to hundreds of travelers in an instant and they can reply back advising if they are safe or need assistance – that’s all possible now.


Duty-of-care is an important part of every higher education travel program and if you don’t have a plan in place to fulfill that obligation, contact Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited for guidance with getting started.