Protests, violence prompt UBC to cancel term 2 of Hong Kong exchange

Nov 21 2019, 11:40 am

The University of British Columbia says that all students currently on exchange and co-op in Hong Kong have either left or are safe and accounted for, as protests and violence continue to rattle the region.

According to a statement from Ainsley Carry, UBC’s Vice President of Students, 31 UBC students were on exchange or in a co-op in Hong Kong, attending the Chinese University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Hong Kong University.

UBC administration contacted the students last week and “advised they leave and discussed their options to ensure they feel safe and supported.”

As of November 20, Carry says 20 students have left and the 11 who remained in Hong Kong are safe and accounted for.

Of those 11 students, six currently have firm departure plans and are leaving before the end of November, three are with family in Hong Kong and wish to stay, and the school is working with the remaining two on travel planning.

UBC has offered all departing students a $1,000 emergency bursary to support their departure and 27 students have successfully received these funds.

The school is working with its partner universities in Hong Kong to determine if students will still be able to complete their term through distance-education programs and receive academic credit for the exchange.

The partner schools have decided to either suspend in-person classes or end the term early.

“We do not know when they will be able to reopen and resume normal operations,” said Carry.

UBC has also cancelled term two of exchanges to Hong Kong. Carry says all students have been given the options to switch their exchange to another university, defer their exchanges, or withdraw from the program.

“The university is committed to working closely with our students to find a solution which will best meet their needs – connecting them to the appropriate academic and student services resources to ensure a smooth transition,” said Carry.

The rallies and protests between Hong Kong pro-democracy supporters and pro-CCP supporters (also often referenced to as pro-Beijing, Beijing supporters, or Chinese nationalists) began in early June.

The protests first began over a controversial extradition bill but has since expanded to entail a number of other demands, including an independent inquiry on police brutality in earlier incidents, the resignation of chief executive Carrie Lam, and a full official withdrawal of the bill from the legislative process.

The events also highlight pent-up frustrations with Hong Kong’s social issues, including housing affordability and fears over Hong Kong’s autonomy and protected freedoms.

Within the Lower Mainland, other protests have taken place in downtown Vancouver, Richmond, Vancouver Art Gallery’s North Plaza, and the UBC Vancouver campus.

With files from Kenneth Chan.