University of Houston-Victoria
Policies

Student Travel

Section:  Travel Index:  F-3
Subject: Student Travel

Policy

Texas Education Code, Section 51.950 requires the regulation of certain types of student travel sponsored, supported or sanctioned by the University. UHS System Administrative Policy 03.E.08, Student Travel, establishes the system wide policy for this type of travel.

This policy only applies to student travel undertaken by one or more currently enrolled students to reach an activity or event and that meets all of the following criteria:

  1. An activity or event is organized and sponsored by the University; and
  2. The activity or event is located more than 25 miles from the institution; and
  3. (1) Travel to the activity or event is funded and undertaken using a vehicle owned, leased or rented by the University; or

(2) Travel to the activity or event is in a University employee’s vehicle for which mileage is to be reimbursed by the University; or
(3) Attendance at the activity or event is required by a registered student organization and has been approved in accordance with University procedures.

The types of activities and events covered by the policy include but are not limited to: course related field trips, the activities of sponsored student organizations, meetings of academic organizations where a student is officially representing the University, student attendance or presentations at professional organizations, class trips for educational or cultural enrichment, student leadership conferences.  This policy does not apply to travel undertaken to engage in student teaching, internships, practicums, observations or research, unless the research is organized by a member of the faculty.  Grant-funded student travel is also subject to the restrictions and limitations of the grant.

These requirements apply to all faculty, staff, and students who engage in transporting students off campus for any activity or event meeting policy criteria. This policy will be made available to students and the public by reference or inclusion in the University Catalog and Student Handbook.  University departments may have additional student travel requirements or processes.

Definitions

Department Travel Coordinator

Each department shall assign employee travel arrangements, including airfare, lodging and rental car reservations, to a Department Travel Coordinator. The Department Travel Coordinator will also be the main contact person between the department and travel-related staff in the Finance Department.

Organized and Sponsored Activity or Event

Activity or event that is a) initiated, planned and arranged by a member of University faculty or staff, or by the members of a registered student organization and b) endorsed by the University either through providing financial support, or by sending student(s) to participate in it as official representative(s) of the University.

Required by a Student Organization

An activity or event is required by a student organization when it is mandatory for a member of the student organization to attend or participate in the activity or event in order to maintain their membership status in the student organization.

Procedures

A.   Advanced Approval and Required Documentation

All student travelers (drivers and passengers) must complete a Release and Indemnification Agreement in advance of travel acknowledging that they understand and accept the risks involved in the travel activity and accept responsibility for their behavior. Blanket release agreements are acceptable in certain situations such as reoccurring related travel; however an annual blanket release agreement cannot extend past the fiscal year end of August 31. The Department Travel Coordinator will ensure that the release agreements are properly completed and will maintain them as part of a system of recordkeeping for student travel for the department including identity of travelers, dates of travel, mode of travel, destination, and purpose of travel. 

All overnight travel, including student travel, must be approved in advance (prior to departure and before commitment of University funds) by all of the required approvers on a Travel Request Form.  A separate Travel Request Form must be completed for each trip and will be used for record keeping purposes since it will include the name of each traveler, the dates of travel, mode of travel, destination and the purpose of the trip; phone numbers are also recommended. Although the name of each passenger must be listed on the Travel Request Form, passengers are not required to sign the request.  NOTE: All vehicles must have access to a cellular phone and the number must be communicated to the Department Travel Coordinator.

B.  Modes of Travel

The most common means of travel available to UHV students are addressed below. Each form of transportation may require passengers to follow safety precautions specific to the mode of transportation used.

1.     Vehicles Owned, Leased or Rented by the University

University employees transporting students or traveling to/from a destination to transport students for official University business may use a University owned or leased vehicle if available or use the University Travel Card to rent a vehicle in the University’s name and seek reimbursement for fuel. No person shall be required to use his or her personal vehicle for transporting students to events organized and sponsored by the University.

Only employees authorized by the University may drive vehicles owned or leased by the University or rented under the University’s name.  Travel must be in compliance with UHV Policy F-2, Business Use of Vehicles, which establishes standards for granting driving privileges, insurance coverage and reporting requirements when there are accidents.  Also, no employee, potential employee, or student employee, will be allowed to operate a vehicle owned, leased, or rented under the university’s name unless an acceptable Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) has been received.  The Business Services Department has the responsibility for obtaining MVRs.  The Department Travel Coordinator will verify with the Business Services Department that these requirements are met in advance of travel.

2.     Use of Personal Vehicles by Employees

No person shall be required to use his or her personal vehicle for transporting students to events organized and sponsored by the university. Because personal automobile insurance will be looked to first in the event of an accident, persons who use their vehicles while conducting university business should be aware of the possibility of personal liability related to that use.

Employees may be reimbursed for mileage at the University approved rate per mile at the time of travel available on the UHV Intranet Travel Information page when a personal vehicle is used for University business.

3.     Use of Personal Vehicles by Students

Students who drive their privately owned vehicles assume responsibility for the liability for themselves and the passengers traveling in their vehicle. The student’s personal auto insurance will be primary at all times when the student uses their person vehicle for University travel.

Students driving privately-owned vehicles for organized student travel (as defined in this policy) within the U.S. must have a valid Texas or other state driver license and possess personal automobile insurance coverage as mandated by the state of Texas, and their vehicles must have a current state inspection and registration.

Students may be reimbursed for mileage at the University approved rate per mile at the time of travel available on the UHV Intranet Travel Information page when a personal vehicle is used for University business.  Students must submit their requests for reimbursement to the Department Travel Coordinator for the department authorizing the travel.

C. Travel Arrangements and Reimbursement of Travel Expenses

Travel arrangements, expenditures and reimbursements to employees and students will be made in accordance with UHV Policy F-1, Reimbursement of Travel and UHV Policy F-5, Travel Arrangements unless specified otherwise in this policy.  Expenditures and reimbursements are subject to the approval, accountability and documentation standards of UHV Policy B-1, Expenditures and Expenditure Authority.

Payments to employees and students for reimbursement of travel expenditures incurred on behalf of the University must be made by direct deposit.  Per State Government Code § 403.0551, Deductions for Repayment of Certain Debts or Tax Delinquencies, the University, as a state agency, is prohibited from making a payment for reimbursement of expenditures if the payee has an indebtedness or tax delinquency to any state agency until such indebtedness has been satisfied.

D.  Air Travel, Bus and Other Commercial Carriers

Students traveling by commercial carrier must comply with laws regulating that travel and the rules of the specific carrier.

E.  High Profile Vehicles

  • High profile vehicles are vehicles with a high center of gravity, including pickup trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles. They are a particular safety concern because they are more susceptible to rollover accidents than most vehicles.
  • All drivers of high profile vehicles must successfully complete a safety course for high profile vehicles. Contact the Safety and Risk Management Department, Business Services.
  • The use of fifteen-passenger vans for University business is prohibited. Fifteen-passenger vans are of particular safety concern as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been publishing advisories regarding these vans with multiple fatality accidents attributed to the use of these vehicles.

F.   Travel Outside the United States

Departments, units and student organizations sponsoring organized travel outside the United States are responsible for assuring compliance with the provisions of UHV Policy, F-8, Foreign Travel.

Students driving privately owned vehicles for organized student travel outside the U. S. must have all appropriate licenses, certificates and insurance required by the country they are traveling in.

G.  Safety Guidelines for Drivers and Occupants

Drivers and occupants engaged in student travel have an obligation to act responsibly and use sound judgment when traveling. Vehicles should not be loaded with more passengers and baggage/equipment than the vehicles can safely accommodate.  Baggage and equipment must not block the driver’s line of sight. Personal liability may be incurred in the event of an accident caused through personal negligence or violation of laws.

Should an incident occur, i.e. accident, mechanical failure, medical emergency, code of conduct violation, etc., the responsible University official overseeing the activity must notify his/her supervisor as soon as feasibly possible. The supervisor should contact the UHV Campus Police Department Office and Student Affairs Office if appropriate.

When leading group trips, faculty or staff should carry emergency contact information and when appropriate, proof of medical insurance coverage and the authorization for emergency medical treatment for each participant (Release and Indemnification Agreement).

Students and employee drivers must:

  1. have a valid driver’s license;
  2. wear seat belts at all times;
  3. not text while operating a vehicle;
  4. avoid using a cell phone while operating a vehicle;
  5. obey all traffic laws and regulations, including posted speed limits;
  6. not drive under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs or transport or possess alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, unauthorized firearms or other types of weapons;
  7. ensure the vehicle has at least the minimum insurance required by the State, as well as a current state inspection and registration.

All drivers are encouraged to:

  1. begin the trip well rested;
  2. carry a cell phone;
  3. notify a designated contact person upon departure and arrival;
  4. avoid driving when conditions are hazardous (fog, heavy rain, snow or ice conditions);
  5. plan routes in advance, and caravan (follow each other) when possible;
  6. stop for rest as necessary; be prepared to stop the trip and check into a motel when fatigue or travel conditions warrant;
  7. rotate drivers every two hours and avoid driving between midnight and 6am. It's a good idea for a passenger or second driver to ride in the front seat and remain awake to help the driver maintain alertness;
  8. carry an emergency car care kit (available by checkout from Student Life & Services);
  9. establish a reasonable departure and arrival time to and from the activity or event;
  10. have at least one other approved driver in the vehicle if possible;
  11. avoid taking any medications that could impede driving ability (cause drowsiness or dizziness, for example).

Passengers shall:

  1. wear seat belts at all times;
  2. not exceed the number of seat belts available or the vehicles recommended capacity;
  3. not engage in horseplay or other actions that are distracting to the driver.

Passengers are encouraged to:

  1. assist the driver with route directions, especially in congested city driving;
  2. help the driver maintain alertness by riding in the front seat and talking with the driver to help the driver maintain alertness;
  3. insist that the driver to pull over or stop for rest when conditions warrant.

HFailure to Comply

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in one or more of the following actions:

  • Departmental suspension of student travel
  • Restrictions against specific students from participating in future group travel
  • Student disciplinary action in accordance with University policy
  • Employee disciplinary action in accordance with University policy

Resources Available on UHV Intranet

  1. UHV Intranet Travel Information page
  2. Travel Request Form

References

  1. Texas Education Code, Section 51.950, Policy Regulating Student Travel
  2. UHS AM 03.E.08, Student Travel
  3. State Government Code § 403.0551, Deductions for Repayment of Certain Debts or Tax Delinquencies
  4. UHV Policy B-1, Expenditures and Expenditure Authority
  5. UHV Policy F-1, Reimbursement for Travel and Other Expenses
  6. UHV Policy F-2, Business Use of Vehicles
  7. UHV Policy F-5, Travel Arrangements
  8. UHV Policy F-8, Foreign Travel
  9. Student Handbook
  10. University Catalog (Student Life and Services)
  11. Release and Indemnification Agreement

Approved by: 7/19/17

Signature Obtained 
Raymond V. Morgan, Jr., Ph.D. 
President

Originating Department: Finance/Student Life & Services

Next Review Date: July 2020