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November 21, 2019

University Cancels Hong Kong Study Abroad Program Over Security Concerns


The Hong Kong Campus was opened in November of last year.

Courtesy of UChicago News

In response to recent political unrest in Hong Kong, the University has canceled its winter 2020 Hong Kong study abroad program. Students who signed up for the program instead have the option of enrolling in a replacement program at the UChicago Center in Paris or being refunded, according to an email sent on Monday from the program’s coordinator.

The program was oriented toward economics and finance.

Participants had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to confirm whether they would be going to Paris or staying in Hyde Park next quarter and taking a refund. The email offered participants the possibility of financial assistance to cover the potential increase in travel expenses, which would “be evaluated on an individual basis,” according to a University statement to The Maroon

The statement also said that, despite the relocation, the program in Paris “will continue to offer classroom instruction on experimental economics, banking, and finance, as well as opportunities to engage with international economies.”

In an email to the program’s participants, UChicago Study Abroad said, “This decision stems from closely monitoring the local situation in partnership with colleagues in Hong Kong, the University’s international security firm, and the U.S. State Department.

“With violence following last week’s protests affecting university campuses—including the University of Hong Kong, where our program housing is arranged—local universities have ended their fall semester early.”

Protests began in June and have recently turned toward university campuses. Last week, protestors turned several university campuses into temporary camps, and police blockaded protestors inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute, according to a CNN report. On Sunday and Monday, police armed with tear gas and water cannons clashed with protestors with petrol bombs and arrows, CNN reported.

Several other U.S. universities have also canceled or relocated study abroad programs located in Hong Kong. Georgetown University ended its two study abroad programs in Hong Kong last week due to escalations in clashes between police and protestors, according to its student paper, The Hoya, as did Syracuse University, alongside whom Georgetown hosted one of its programs. Fifteen Georgetown students were studying in Hong Kong at the time. Stanford University, on the other hand, canceled its Hong Kong program before the fall term began in late August.

In March 2016, the University similarly moved its Istanbul-based Civilizations study abroad program to the Center in Paris after a bombing occurred in a shopping center one week before the program was scheduled to begin.

The email to participants reported that the spring 2020 Hong Kong program has not been affected.

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