Companions on Education Abroad Programs

University policy states that only the official program leader(s)/assistant(s) and students fully enrolled in the program are allowed to participate in education abroad program activities.

Restricting participation only to those participating directly in the teaching and learning process facilitates the University's mission to provide educational programs to serve and support its student population while also significantly decreasing the liability to the University, given that all who are engaged in the program are totally focused upon the class, the students, and the events at hand. Further, the University also has a policy against giving away credits and education when others have paid for the experience.

Program Leader Companions

When traveling with University students, Program Leaders are primarily responsible for the students and the course. Most Program Leaders find that they are working long hours and rarely have any free time within the program dates. As a result, the University strongly discourages Program Leaders from bringing an accompanying spouse, partner, or dependent(s). The University takes no responsibility for companions.

Program Leaders anticipating that spouses and/or minor children (companion) will accompany an education abroad program should carefully review the following aspects of the program for suitability:

  • Length of the program
  • Age of children
  • Location of the program
  • Nature of the program
  • Extent of travel activity involved during the program
  • Availability of accommodation for the companion
  • Impact of the presence of the companion on the program

The appropriate education abroad office must be consulted to determine in what, if any, activities companions can reasonably participate.

When Program Leaders bring companions, the companions will not be considered participants of the program. A companion will have no responsibilities on behalf of the University of Minnesota (e.g., conducting attendance checks, monitoring tests, managing program funds, grading, etc.). Companions cannot, in any way, impair the operation and administration of group activities associated with the program or otherwise infringe on other program participants.

Minor children of the Program Leader and dependent adults for whom the Program Leader serves as a guardian or caretaker may travel with the group only if another competent adult (non-Program Leader) travels with them. Hiring participating students for childcare purposes is not acceptable. Doing so creates a dual relationship between professor and student, with potential for conflict of interest. Grandchildren, nephews, and nieces who are not a Program Leader’s legal dependents are not considered dependents, but rather extended family. They are not permitted to accompany the program unless they are enrolled as students in the program.

All companions must receive the same mandatory international travel, health, and security insurance that students and program leaders carry. The coverage is at the cost of the Program Leader and separate from the program budget.

Companions may share the Program Leader’s accommodation, provided that the cost is based on the room and not per person. Additional rooms and per-person costs are the responsibility of the Program Leader.

Companions must pay for their own transportation, meals, and all other costs. These expenses cannot be incorporated into the study abroad program budget, and they cannot be part of any reimbursement request or invoice that is submitted to the University. Any non-refundable expenses for cancellation of arrangements made on behalf of Program Leader companions will be the sole responsibility of the Program Leader. This information must be made transparent for all those involved in the program, especially the students, so there is no misunderstanding that student program fees are subsidizing non-participants.

The primary responsibility of the education abroad office is to advise and support students participating on its programs and coordinate arrangements for the students and program leader. Additional arrangements to accommodate Program Leaders companions may not be possible. The Program Leader may need to, for example, book his/her own housing if the program housing won’t meet family needs. Additionally, the Program Leader may have to pay a premium for these services.

Required Forms

Program Leaders should work with their education abroad office for more information or to complete the required processes.

  • Companions must be listed on the Companion Information Form.
  • Each companion must complete the Companion Acknowledgement and Waiver prior to departure.
  • Companions must enroll in the University's On Call insurance coverage. To cover dependent(s) or a spouse or domestic partner, you will need to Start a New Registration as Faculty or Staff and then select the button "For Someone Else" to enter their information as a Personal Guest. You will need all of their personal and trip information. If they have their own email address, enter that personal email address for them and their coverage confirmation will be sent there.