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Global Support Services > Travel > Study Away Risk Assessment Committee - SARAC

Study Away Risk Assessment Committee - SARAC

Role of the Committee


The Study Away Risk Assessment Committee (SARAC) is responsible for authorizing university-sponsored educational or service opportunities involving travel when there is a significant health or safety concern.  SARAC is also responsible for deciding whether to suspend an educational opportunity away from campus when health or safety concerns emerge shortly before a program begins or while it is in progress.  The Committee is expected to balance the educational and/or research merits of the travel opportunity with its associated risk, with an emphasis on risk mitigation.  

Criteria for Suspension or Cancellation

Checklist for Faculty Taking Students on Trips within the United States

How to apply for a Request for an Exemption

 Requests for Exception to Restricted Travel Destinations

  • Students (or faculty/staff leading a group of students) who wish to travel to a destination included on the restricted travel list must submit a “Request for Exception to Travel” to the Study Away Risk Assessment Committee for review.  SARAC is responsible for deciding whether to permit an education away opportunity in a restricted country/ destination or to suspend an education away opportunity when health or safety concerns emerge shortly before a program starts or while it is in progress.
  • Request forms can be found here: individual  or student group  or faculty-led .  Forms should be completed as soon as possible, and no later than sixty days prior to travel.  
  • SARAC may determine that a restricted travel destination does not require a “Request for Exception to Travel” if that destination recently been reviewed by SARAC and there have been no major changes in safety or security since the approval. SARAC may reinstate the requirements for a “Request for Exception to Travel” at any time.

 SARAC Process - Sample Timeline

Approved Requests for Exception

  • If travel is approved, the student will continue to receive support from the University, including financial aid, course credit, or other assistance, as applicable.
  • In addition to the waiver signed by all students traveling abroad, the applicant will be asked to sign an additional waiver acknowledging that he or she has read and understands the risks associated with travel to a country/destination under a travel warning, or other warnings, as applicable.
  • SARAC reserves the right to place conditions on approval (i.e. prohibit certain aspects of the proposed itinerary or require additional safety or security measures).
  • Vanderbilt reserves the right to suspend or cancel travel at any time, should SARAC determine that the situation in a country/destination deteriorates to a level that is no longer acceptable. In such cases, the applicant understands that the university is not responsible for reimbursement for expenses related to withdrawal.
  • Complete action steps listed in the Basic checklist for SARAC Approved International travel. Please click here for the list

Denied Requests for Exception

  • If a request for exception is denied by SARAC, university support for travel, including course credit, financial aid, insurance through HTH and ISOS, and logistical support, will be withdrawn.
  • Student organizations may not make use of funding from AcFees, tax-receipted donations, or fundraising events held or disbursed in their organization’s agency fund to support travel that has been denied after a review of a request for exception.
  • If the applicant moves forward with travel, he or she does so with the understanding that the travel is in no way supported or sponsored by Vanderbilt University.
  • The use of Vanderbilt University logos, websites, or other use of the Vanderbilt name associated with the proposed travel will be prohibited.

SARAC Committee Members 2016-17

Title Voting First Name Last Name
Director, Risk Financing Yes Melissa Ahler
Associate Provost and Dean of Students Yes Mark Bandas
Executive Director of Global Learning & Education Yes Susan Barone
Global Safety and Security Manager Yes Andrea Bordeau
VUPD voting member Yes Ricky Burr
Vice Provost of Learning and Residential Affairs Yes Cynthia Cyrus
FACIE representative Yes Guil Gualda
School of Medicine Assoc Director for Education and Training Yes Douglas Heimburger
Manager of Compliance, Compliance Office - University Yes Ruth Nagareda
Vice Provost for Research Yes Padma Raghavan
Deputy General Counsel Yes Ruby Shellaway
SON representative Yes Carol Ziegler
Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Informational Beth Fortune
Program Manager, Travel and Payment Cards Informational Sabrina Kronk
Director, Global Health Initiatives Informational Julie Lankford
VUPD informational member Informational August Washington
Audit Manager, Internal Audit Informational Bruce Weisman