American universities terminating Hong Kong study abroad programs early

Georgetown University’s student-run newspaper, The Hoya, announced in a tweet on Thursday that students studying in Hong Kong this semester would be coming home due to protests in the territory.

“Georgetown University’s study abroad programs in Hong Kong have been canceled for the remainder of the semester because of protests in the region,” the tweet reads. “Students are working to leave in the coming days, according to three Georgetown students on the programs.”

The semi-autonomous Chinese territory has been wracked by five months of anti-government and anti-China protests demanding democratic reforms.

Meghan Dubyak, associate vice president for strategic communications for Georgetown University, told USA TODAY in an email that Georgetown students are studying at two universities in Hong Kong.

She confirmed that classes for those students would be ending early.

“The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) announced its shortening of Term 1 and the cancellation of all classes for the remainder of the term, effective immediately,” Dubyak said. “Other students are studying at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) through a program with Syracuse University. Syracuse University announced on Nov. 13 that it is closing the fall 2019 program early.”

Syracuse will end the program on Nov. 19, according to Syracuse.com. The site reported that Chancellor Kent Syverud sent out an email on Wednesday announcing the early closure. 

A man offers prayer as firemen and medical volunteers attend a rally in Hong Kong on Nov. 14, 2019. (Photo: Vincent Yu, AP)

Syverud cited declining safety and security for students due to the protests as the reason for the cancellation. He did note, according to the site, that the university is not worried about students’ immediate safety. 

“Until recently, protests were localized and our students attended class and safely experienced the city by observing common sense precautions,” Syverud wrote in the email. “Over the last several months, protests have escalated, with significant disruption to mobility and public transportation.”

American universities are not the only institutions removing their students because of the protests.

Several Nordic students at Hong Kong Baptist University are being moved because antigovernment demonstrators are on the school grounds.

Student Elina Neverdal Hjoennevaag told Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Wednesday that they are being sent to a hotel, adding, “I don’t really know what is happening. I must pack.”

She said she and several other exchange students were told to gather their belongings and move away from the university.

She said, “people walked out with their suitcases. Many cried.”

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry says on its website that “students should continuously evaluate campus safety if teaching is interrupted due to protests.”

The Technical University of Denmark urged its 36 students in Hong Kong to pack up and return home.

Police on Tuesday raided the Chinese University of Hong Kong, setting off violent clashes. The university remained barricaded by demonstrators on Wednesday as the city’s antigovernment unrest turns increasingly violent.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Morgan Hines on Twitter: @MorganEmHines.

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