Do Universities Have a Duty of Care Towards Their Employees and Students when They Travel Abroad on University Business? A Critical Analysis of the State-of-the-Art and the Relevant Practice


In the aftermath of Giulio Regeni’s death politicians and commentators have not been shy in blaming the University of Cambridge for not doing enough to protect a talented doctoral candidate who was conducting his research, which dealt with a very sensitive issue in an environment described as ‘at risk’ due to Egypt’s political instability and poor record on human rights. Besides the shock and sadness that the murder or Mr Regeni has sparked worldwide, this episode has also triggered some difficult questions for academic institutions, concerned with striking a balance between the need to ensure the safety of their personnel and the academic freedom that shall guide the choices autonomously made by every researcher. The present contribution moves from the assumption that the duty of care (DoC) is finally gaining momentum and is attracting increasing attention in the public and private sectors. Nonetheless, the inquiry concerning Universities and academic institutions in general remains utterly underdeveloped and the primary scope of the present article is to contribute to filling this gap. After introducing the key issues at stake, this article will focus in particular on three aspects, i.e. i) the legal foundations of Universities’ DoC; ii) the specific content of the DoC incumbent on academic institutions, paying special attention to the planning and risk assessment (i.e. which are the tools and methods envisaged to identify all the hazards associated with the work and then to assess the risks, universal, generic and specific, that these hazards present under the circumstances of the work?); and iii) the Universities’ accountability (i.e. the nature and extent of criminal and civil liabilities between the institution and the fieldwork participant).

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20398573v3n1p11



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