Fieldwork and off-site working
Off-site working means any location other than a University of Westminster campus or Halls of Residence.
The university has a duty of care for students while you are on university business, wherever you are located. This guidance offers advice on things like risk assessments, insurance, visas and funding.
We organise some field work and off–site working for you. In some cases, however, you may need to organise this yourself. To help you do this we have developed new guidance around field work and field trips.
Whether you are going overseas or staying in the UK, you will need to complete a risk assessment.
If your trip is overseas, there is plenty of useful information about safety and security for your destination. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has the most up-to-date information for each country and you should always check their website when planning a trip overseas.
You will need to complete a risk assessment if your trip is in the UK or overseas. The risk assessment should be part of the process for planning your trip. Its purpose is to help you identify potential risks associated with your travel, the work you will be undertaking, and actions you can take to reduce those risks and plan for a safer trip.
Remember, if the University is organising your trip, then the trip supervisor or placement officer will do this for you. It is important that you co-operate fully with them in order for this to be completed satisfactorily.
You can find guidance on completing a risk assessment in the Off-Site Working and Overseas Field Trip document (PDF). You can use the information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to help complete the risk assessment for an overseas trip.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website gives information about visa requirements and currencies. If you are not a British National, you can also get information through your own embassy or consular service or from the embassy or consular service of your destination country.
Please note that Tier 4 sponsored students are subject to stringent Home Office attendance monitoring requirements. If you are currently studying at the University as a Tier 4 sponsored student, it is important that you contact the Tier 4 Team before making any arrangements to spend an extended period of time off campus.
Complete a travel insurance request form and submit it to the Procurement team, who will give you a Travel Insurance Cover Note. This will give you details of the University’s travel insurance policy.
The University of Westminster holds a comprehensive travel insurance policy, covering any member of the University’s staff or students while on University of Westminster business worldwide. Please note that the University’s travel insurance policy includes emergency medical cover, but excludes elective medical cover (health insurance). Contact the procurement team on [email protected] and or the Outward Mobility Team on [email protected] for further details.
The policy, which is branded 'AIG Europe Ltd' is provided by Gallagher Heath and underwritten by AIG. The policy number is 0015865150. The emergency assistance provider is Travel Guard.
The travel insurance policy is in addition to the cover that the University's Public and Employers' liability policies provides. Please note that while you are on another organisation's premises, if there is a claim made on the basis that the owner of the property has been negligent, it is usual for that organisation's public liability policy to respond to such a claim.
The University travel insurance only applies to travel outside the UK – there is no travel insurance cover for travelling in the UK.
The University’s policy covers pre-existing medical conditions but there is an exclusion for travelling against the advice of your medical practitioner.
If in doubt, contact your GP to check that you are fine to travel. It is important that you take any medical conditions into account when completing your travel overseas and risk assessment form.
Information about vaccination requirements can be found on the Masta website. The University Health Services may offer some vaccinations. Further details can be found by contacting Health Services. Information on diseases can be found at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office together with MASTA.
There could be a number of adjustments needed depending on your destination. Language may be an important one and perhaps the most common. In addition, religious beliefs and political events may impact what you can do and when.
Adjustments may be required, and it is always important to respect local culture. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will give you the latest and most up-to-date information.
If you are going on an overseas trip, the Travel Insurance Cover Note (see point 4) will give you an emergency contact number.
You should always let someone at the University know your itinerary and contact number if you will be working off-site in the UK or overseas.
Taking and using IT equipment abroad can increase the risks of data compromise and equipment loss. You should be aware of the risks and take appropriate and proportionate measures to manage those risks.
One question to ask is, "Do I need to take this data/device abroad with me?"
Think about how you are going to connect to the internet when you are abroad. How sure are you of the security and integrity of the connection you plan to use? There are VPN (Virtual Private Network) services available from the internet (both free and paid for) if you wish to secure your end-to-end communications.
You should always be updating your software when new security updates (patches) are released, but it may be worth checking your device is up-to-date with these before you leave, to minimise the chance of being hacked while abroad, and it will be a lot cheaper/free to download these while in the UK.
If your device has encryption capabilities, then these should be enabled before you travel. Any passwords or authentication tokens should be stored separately from your device.
Some border security staff may ask you to power up a device to prove it works. You should not need to enter password information to show your device works, but, if you are asked to enter a password and to give your device to them and it leaves your sight, then you should assume the device is compromised. You should not use it for processing any sensitive information, either business or personal.
Be aware that when in public in some parts of the world, your device may be seen as a luxury item and be targeted by thieves, and you could be targeted. When not using your devices you should place them in a secure location, such as a hotel room safe.
Remember that even if you are abroad, any personal or sensitive data is still subject to UK laws and the DPA (Data Protection Act) and should be treated with the same care as if it were still in the UK. You can find information on laws in the country you are visiting on independent travel websites and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
You may also wish to take proof that you own or have purchased the device in the UK and have paid the appropriate duty or taxes on it, or that the University has done so.
If you are using the facilities of another organisation either in the UK or overseas you should ask for copies of their risk assessments before you travel. You need to be assured that there are suitable control measures in place for any work related activity. Before you go, you should ask them to see copies of risk assessments. If you are being supervised, the trip organiser will take care of this, but if you are organising your own trip, you will need to check.
You can find regulations concerning transportation of substances overseas here on the gov.uk website.
Please be aware there are regulations for transporting dangerous goods by air, sea, road and rail that need to be followed in detail.
You can also check the Civil Aviation Authority website for information regarding taking materials on-board aircraft.
All work activity off-site needs to have a risk assessment, please see our safety guidance.
Remember, if the University has organised your trip, this will be arranged. If not, you will need to check yourself. Don’t make assumptions, as this may lead to disappointment. Check these things out well in advance.
The host organisation may have a website where a certain amount of information can be found. Some information such as local emergency procedures may only be available once you arrive.
Preparation is important. There will be a number of sources of information. The main source will be through your travel provider. There are also travel websites which offer impartial local travel information.
If your trip or activity is being organised as part of your course, your Faculty will have made you aware of any costs.
Funding is available for some exchange trips. For details of grants and to find out if you are eligible, please check the Funding your exchange page.
If the purpose of your visit is to undertake research as with any such proposal the Supervisor must consider whether prior ethical approval is required and if so refer to the University’s Framework for Research Governance. This may be particularly relevant if including members of the public who must always be included in any health and safety considerations.
Your Faculty Research Ethics Committee can give you further information.