Acquire Guidance: Academic Field Trips

An academic field trip is an official University activity that is part of an academic course, is educational in nature, occurs in a location other than the class location, and is managed by the academic department. The syllabus must contain information (general or specific) about the required or optional field trip and the possibility of any costs. This allows for students to make an informed decision prior to drop/add deadlines.


Academic field trips enhance the learning experience for students and provide other valuable educational benefits. They also involve the potential for increased risk to participants and the University. The advice contained herein is designed to assist academic departments in managing and minimizing this potential increase in risk.

Determine Roles and Responsibilities

The itinerary and all aspects of the field trip should be planned in advance by the department, including identifying and addressing potential safety risks. The itinerary should be communicated to the participants, and it should include their roles and expected participation, behavior, any special clothing/ equipment needed during each itinerary activity, and any hazards, dangers, or physical challenges that may be encountered, for example, a long set of steep steps. Ask participants to inform you of any disabilities or special needs that may require accommodation and address these prior to the trip.

A University representative (faculty or staff) should be present and responsible for the field trip, and that person should incorporate into the planning process any safety considerations necessary to provide for a safe trip. For example, consider whether the class will need to be broken up into smaller groups to accommodate the specific site environment. Also, a roster must be maintained of participants and their cell phone numbers and ensure sure they have the cell phone number for the University representative(s) on the field trip.

Prepare for Potential Emergencies and Understand Liability

Thoughtful consideration should be given to how emergencies or the need for medical assistance will be managed, and that should be communicated to all participants. Depending on the nature of the field trip, this can be an informal process that focuses on how to access local medical or emergency assistance at the field trip location, for example, list the phone number and address for the closest medical facility, or in situations where students will be in remote locations with limited access to medical/emergency assistance, the planning for safety and medical emergencies should be more formalized and documented, for example develop a written and detailed sequence of steps to be followed should emergency medical assistance be required and the injured party cannot walk and needs to be evacuated. The faculty member responsible for the course is responsible for students on related field trips. The University provides liability coverage to faculty members and employees for these activities as described in FIN-006 Policy: Insurance Coverage sections 2.a. and 2.b. The University also covers employees involved in authorized international activities as described in the foreign liability section of this policy, and additional information is also provided at the following link:

The University is not responsible for the personal property of students or employees, as the University’s property coverage extends only to University-owned items or property that is documented to have been leased or loaned to the University. Please ensure that students are aware that they are responsible for their own property.

Potential auto, liability, or property incidents or losses should be reported within 24 hours to the Office of Property & Liability Risk Management (OPLRM) by the department. Instructions and forms for this required reporting can be found at It is recommended that during your trip planning, these instructions and forms be reviewed and be made a part of the information available to those managing the field trip. It is important to ensure that an incident or loss occurrence is reported to the OPLRM as soon as it is practical to do so.

Prepare for Transportation Needs

If students are expected to provide their own transportation, the department should clearly communicate this to students and the department should avoid managing, assisting in, or endorsing carpooling arrangements that could be misconstrued as the University managing and taking responsibility for transportation.

If the department will provide ground transportation: 

Prepare for Lodging Needs for Overnight Trips

If the trip involves overnight lodging, the department should clearly communicate this to students and the department should avoid managing, assisting in, or endorsing room assignments that could be misconstrued as the University managing and taking responsibility for lodging assignments. There must be at least one bed per person in each room and accommodations must be made according to Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity.

Prepare for Activities Involving Minors

All University faculty, staff, and students interacting with minors as part of their work or scholarship at the University must adhere to the University Policy:  Protection of Minors and Reporting Abuse .

Review Other Party Agreements

If the field trip involves an agreement or contract with outside entities that involves procuring goods or services by the University  it must undergo review by Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services (PSDS) before being signed by the Director of PSDS who has signatory authority. If the agreement or contract does not involve a payment by the University, then it must undergo review by Bill Define in the office of the University Comptroller at (434) 243-5592 or email before being signed by the appropriate signatory authority.  

For additional information refer to and adhere to FIN-036 Policy: Signatory Authority for Executing University Contracts:

Advice for Other University Activities

The above advice is intended for short-duration domestic, academic field trips. The following are examples of other activities and programs falling outside of the scope of this advice:

  • Internships, externships, clinical experiences, and other similar programs should be more formally managed within the academic department, including formal agreements with outside organizations and compliance with Policy: Academic Approval and Signatory Authority for Academic Program Agreements
  • Study abroad and other international travel with students requires more involved planning. All international activities should be coordinated through the International Studies Office (ISO)
Review Non-University Activity Disclaimer

For situations involving student-initiated or managed travel where there exists the possibility that the activity could be confused as being either an academic field trip or other University activity, there should be a disclaimer in place. This includes student group activities with faculty advisors that are not part of a course:  CIO activities, voluntary attendance at professional organization events and conferences, student-initiated and/or organized activities including those supported by University collected fees, and activities students choose to engage in during semester breaks and between semesters.  Here is an example of a disclaimer for such an activity that should be modified to fit your particular situation:  "Social and recreational activities undertaken by students with support from the fees contributed for this purpose are not University activities. Rather the University collects and disburses these funds for social and recreational activities selected by the students. These activities are not sponsored by the University or part of any University program and students should bear this in mind when participating."


Disclose academic field trips to students, and include any requirements to transport themselves to an off-grounds site, physical demands or risks above the normal course requirements, or other unusual aspects.  For required field trips, this disclosure should be made to students prior to students registering for the course by including it in the Course Description, or a credit alternative should be made available to any student expressing discomfort with taking part in the field trip.  For required and non-required field trips involving inherently risky activities, such as white water rafting, ropes courses, sports, etc., please contact the Office of Property & Liability Risk Management for advice.

Clery Act Compliance: Student Travel Information

University units, departments, and groups sponsoring student travel are required to complete and submit a Clery Act Student Travel Form if the travel meets the following Department of Education guidelines:

Written Agreement

If there is a written agreement, defined as a rental or lease document or other written form of agreement, directly between the university and a provider for use of academic (classroom) and/or residential/lodging space. The agreement does not need to be a formal one; anything in writing agreeing to the utilization of space by UVA suffices (including a letter, email or hotel receipt).  It does not matter whether a fee is charged or if the agreement allows use of the space free of charge.  

If there is an agreement, Clery-reporting requirements apply for those areas specified in the agreement as well as the common areas leading to those spaces (such as lobby, elevator, hallways, entryways, stairwells, etc.).

Field Trips

A travel form is required only for field trips that include an overnight stay and if the University enters into an agreement for any accommodations or related academic space used in conjunction with the trip. You are not required to report field trips that are not overnight stays and are at locations UVA does not own or control.

Overnight Trips or Short-Stay "Away" Trips

If UVA sponsors any short-stay "away" trips of more than one night for its students, all locations used by students during the trip, controlled by the institution during the trip (hotels and rented classroom space) and used to support educational purposes should be reported on the this travel form.

Private home stays or host families do not normally qualify as Clery-reportable non-campus locations unless UVA has some kind of written agreement directly with the provider of the space that designated UVA with significant control.

Any overnight trips organized by current students or by host families that are not covered by an any sponsoring or agreement from UVA do not qualify as a Clery-reportable non-campus location and therefore completion of this travel form is not required.

Space at other universities

If UVA has an agreement with another university to, directly or indirectly rent, lease or use a building or property or a portion of a building or property (room or floor) at the other university, a Clery travel form should be submitted.

If UVA does not have an agreement for the space used, this form is not required.

The Clery Act Student Travel Form is available online at The ultimate determination of whether Clery-reporting is required for any particular trip is a decision that will be made by the UVA Office of Clery Compliance.  If you have questions about whether to submit a Clery Travel Form or any other questions about UVA’s Clery geography, please contact the UVA Office of Clery Compliance at

Did you know
The University community is encouraged to seek further advice from the Office of Property & Liability Risk Management for questions or concerns regarding academic field trips and other activities that may present liability concerns or financial loss exposures that might affect the University and its employees or agents.