UVic says exchange students safe, reaching out for next steps during Hong Kong violence

UVic says exchange students safe, reaching out for next steps during Hong Kong violence
A fire is seen at Hong Kong Polytechnic University as police stormed the campus on Monday.

The University of Victoria says its exchange students in Hong Kong have told them they are safe as violence grows in the semi-autonomous city.

One Hong Kong facility, Polytechnic University, has turned into a battlefield between pro-democracy protesters and government officials and police have demanded protesters barricaded inside to surrender.

In a statement Monday, University of Victoria director of global engagement Carolyn Russell says “the safety of students is our first priority at the University of Victoria. Our students in Hong Kong have told us that they are safe.”

Russell says UVic has eight students known to be on exchange programs at three partner universities in Hong Kong.

Those campuses have advised UVic they are set to close for the remainder of the semester due to the geopolitical and civil unrest, and are providing alternate teaching arrangements for students to finish their term studies online.

“Our faculties, departments and schools are reaching out to our students in Hong Kong to determine how their situations are impacted, next steps and travel plans,” Russell statement said.

She added the students are advised to use caution while abroad, be aware of their surroundings and to enrol in International SOS to receive travel alerts.

Some Canadian universities, including the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, is urging their exchange students in Hong Kong to consider returning home.

On Oct. 2, the federal government updated its travel advisory for China to exercise a high degree of caution in Hong Kong due to ongoing large-scale demonstrations.

However, the overall risk level for Hong Kong remains unchanged at level 2, and Russell says there are no restrictions on “UVic students, staff or faculty travelling to a level 1 or 2 country.”

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left.

Simon Fraser University on the Lower Mainland, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and the University of Toronto say officials have contacted all students in Hong Kong and are helping to make travel arrangements for anyone who wants to leave.

Global Affairs Canada says it is monitoring the violence in Hong Kong, but did not address the situation facing exchange students.

With files from The Canadian Press.


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