Registration & System Triggers

logo - Colorado State University

What is the systems strategy in a nutshell?

Colorado State University (CSU) has a long and robust history of international research and fieldwork, expending nearly $400 million for research annually. These opportunities often extend to students, helping about 400 CSU graduate students per year learn internationally. While the value of international research and fieldwork is evident on many levels, supporting the health and welfare of its travelers is also extremely important to CSU. Through a collaboration between the Office of International Programs, Risk Management and Insurance, and Business and Financial Services, a series of policies and system triggers build in checks and balances to ensure that students register their travel and are as prepared as possible. The registration process gives CSU valuable data and information about the international engagement of graduate students, which benchmarks CSU's footprint around the world.

How was this strategy created, and who are the key players?

CSU's leadership created an institution-wide international travel policy in 2007 to set expectations for all travelers, including a requirement that all students register their travel with the Office of International Programs (OIP). CSU’s online travel authorization process has been the most effective tool in tracking travel. As individuals request to travel internationally and use CSU monies, the online approval process routes through the department, dean, and Office of Risk Management and Insurance (RMI). RMI has automatic emails set up to notify OIP about every international traveler who is also flagged as a student in the student information system. OIP also works closely with department travel administrators to make sure they are informed about the benefits as well as the consequences if a student does not register their travel with OIP and receive an authorization. 

OIP then follows up with each student traveler to confirm their plans and to start a more detailed travel registration through OIP. Students receive international travel health insurance coverage for registering with OIP, which is provided by RMI. If students do not register their travel and receive an authorization from OIP, they will not receive a travel reimbursement. 

So, what’s the impact of this strategy?

Because student travelers must receive an authorization from OIP if they are to be reimbursed airfare or expenses, we believe OIP captures approximately 90% of the graduate student travel for academic reasons. Additionally, since our registration system pulls data from the student information system, we are able to match demographic data with where students are going and why they are going there (research, fieldwork, study, cultural exchange, conferences, etc.). This information is shared at the national level annually through Open Doors, through CSU’s Education Abroad website, and internally with CSU units looking to benchmark their international footprint and successes. Through our data collection efforts, we know that some of our most successful and diverse programs with international field experiences include the M.S. in Conservation Leadership through Learning and the Impact MBA, where students work with international stakeholders to explore solutions to global challenges. 

With this data, CSU can track the remote locations to which students go and is aware of the important student work to the University’s research-intensive agenda. OIP can also bring awareness to higher-level administrators about the need for risk management. CSU is now aware that 19% of student travel is to higher-risk destinations (as defined by the U.S. Department of State and CSU’s insurance providers). This data was also used to justify the need for the 2.0 FTE to register, educate, and support these travelers in emergencies. OIP can truly serve and support the institution’s educational agenda because of the collaboration across units to identify and assist students and departments at this large research institution. 

Any helpful context about implementing this strategy on your campus?

The international travel registration process was implemented using TerraDotta software, which OIP had already purchased to track traditional undergraduate study abroad. The "individual traveler registration" is a simplified registration process that can be completed in just 30 minutes if students have their travel plans organized. 

What tips do you have for institutions looking to implement a similar strategy?

If your institutional leadership or immediate supervisors are not as interested in registering graduate student travel, you might engage your campus risk manager. With their support, your concerns and the benefits can be heard at higher levels.


Download a PDF of Colorado State University's Case Study