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Majority of top universities recall exchange students from Hong Kong over protests

Arrangements in place for safe return of British undergraduates after civil unrest

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Friday 15 November 2019 20:02 GMT
Hong Kong students use giant makeshift catapult to defend themselves and attack police

Most of Britain’s top universities are recalling students who were studying in Hong Kong over safety fears as protests continue to escalate in the region.

Students on work placements, exchanges or study abroad programmes are being urged to return to the UK – with a number of institutions paying for their flights home.

More than half of the universities in the Russell Group, the most elite institutions in the UK, have offered to repatriate students, an analysis from The Independent can reveal.

The move follows escalating anti-government protests in recent days – including clashes at the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus where classes have been suspended for the rest of term.

The University of Edinburgh is calling for 21 students currently in Hong Kong – who were due to remain there until spring – to return to the UK at the “earliest opportunity”.

Meanwhile, the University of Manchester is asking students to return home urgently amid “the deteriorating situation” and the concentration of protests on university campuses.

At least 13 Russell Group universities – including Southampton, York and Bristol – are working to bring back their students amid ongoing risk in the region and university closures.

And many more universities across the country, like Aberdeen, have begun to take similar measures in recent days.

A Universities UK (UUK) spokesperson said: “Ensuring the safety and welfare of their students is a top priority for universities. Universities have been monitoring the situation in Hong Kong as it unfolds and are in close contact with their students there.

“Universities UK is in conversation with institutions who have students studying in Hong Kong and there are arrangements in place for the safe return of affected students to the UK where necessary.”

They added: “Universities will continue to follow the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice and monitor the situation in the country. With the situation in Hong Kong changing daily, individual universities are acting in the best interests of their students.”

The FCO has not issued advice to suggest that universities should remove British students from the area.

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