More than a hundred local university students hoping to gain experience studying in Hong Kong through exchange programs have been forced to put their plans on hold — at least until protests in the city ends.
Three of Singapore’s public universities confirmed with Coconuts Singapore via email today that they have either canceled or suspended student exchange programs in Hong Kong due to concerns for their students’ safety and well-being.
The schools that some have partnered with include the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, according to their respective websites.
The decisions come as a travel advisory was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week, asking Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong due to the “increasingly unpredictable” protests that have even disrupted some flights flying in and out of the city.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) said it has suspended all exchange programs and student trips to Hong Kong with immediate effect until further notice and will assist its 41 affected students to resume their semesters here in Singapore.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) said it has canceled its student exchange program in Hong Kong for the current semester and is helping all of its 56 affected students resume their studies in Singapore. The institution is also assisting the students to seek refunds for their airfare and accommodation fees, as well as offering them other study abroad options for the next semester.
Plans for Hong Kong exchange programs slated for the next semester are being reviewed, NUS added.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Management University (SMU) said it has also pulled 17 students out of Hong Kong exchange programs set to begin at the end of this month. The university is also helping the students with their travel insurance claims and assisting them to enroll in courses in Singapore “so that their degree progression will not be affected.”
Two weeks ago, an SMU spokesperson issued a statement on Aug. 9 saying that seven SMU students were undergoing internship programs in Hong Kong.
The spokesperson told Coconuts Singapore today that six of them have already completed their programs while the remaining student has over a week more to go before he or she finishes and can return to Singapore. SMU remains in contact with the student, it added in the statement.
The ongoing protests in Hong Kong began in March, when thousands took to the street to protest against a since-suspended extradition bill. The campaign has since expanded to include calls for broader democratic reforms.