Restricting Faculty Travel Is a Bad Idea
My university (Texas, not Maastricht) has issued a dictum severely limiting faculty seeking authorization to travel to “dangerous countries” (including Israel and Mexico). This represents a clear inward shift in the production possibility frontier. I doubt it will have a big effect, though, because of the incentives it creates.
First, many others and I will certainly ignore the regulation if a good trip to Mexico, Israel or elsewhere arises and our expenses are paid by non-University sources. Also, existing faculty members who might obtain grants requiring travel to these areas will be more likely to run their grant money through other organizations-thus reducing the amount of overhead funding the University can obtain to help cover the costs of the very administrators who have propagated this policy. Worse still from the University’s point of view, by making research more difficult this regulation will, if fully effective, reduce the attractiveness of the University to potential faculty. In my 42 years as a University professor, I have seen many administrative stupidities; but this one is a strong contender for the dumbest.