Travel policy update: students allowed to visit orange countries

Although they need to prove the trip is safe. Four questions.
Colour tavel advice map. Illustration Government of the Netherlands

The change in the travel policy for students came into effect on 17 December. It is currently a temporary exception that will apply up to 31 August 2022. Four questions for Eric de Munck, Exchange Team leader.

What exactly has changed in the travel policy for students?

‘Exchange trips to countries that have risk colour code green or yellow were approved anyway before 17 December, but almost no one could travel to orange areas. It was basically only possible if the student was a national of the country they were visiting. That policy was amended on 17 December and now students can request an exemption from the travel restrictions. Each situation is considered individually. A safety adviser and an assessment team headed by Dean of Education Arnold Bregt look at the requests. In their request, the student has to show that the situation on the campus they will be visiting is safe, and say what safety precautions they personally will be taking.’

‘We use the International SOS colour-coded map for these requests rather than the Foreign Ministry’s map. International SOS is an international organization that assesses health risks and security risks separately. They have individual maps for security, war zones, terrorism, Covid and so on. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs combines all this information in one colour code.’

Why has the travel policy been amended?

‘I think various factors may have played a role. Other institutions are also applying a more flexible travel policy now; we are getting a better understanding of what we can do safely during the coronavirus crisis and what not; the government colour-coded map has its limitations; and students were crying out for a change. For example, in December there was a petition that got 1500 signatures in no time. Some students have had to postpone their planned exchange two or three times already. Of course you always have to weigh up what restrictions you impose for safety reasons against the students’ ambitions. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify why you can’t go on an exchange to an orange-coded country when large numbers of people are holidaying in orange countries.’

The petition got a lot of signatures. Are there many students who want to travel to an orange area?

‘About 60 students in the upcoming semester. I reckon about two thirds to three quarters will end up actually going. Most students tend to choose an exchange in Europe, which is primarily yellow and green.’

Do you have any tips for students who want to submit a request for a trip to an orange area?

‘There is a form available online (here under the Downloads heading, ed.). If you fill it in properly, that should usually be enough. We have twice had to send a form back and ask the student to fill it in more seriously.’

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