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Canadian Universities Are Urging Their Exchange Students In Hong Kong To Come Back Home

Universities have reached out to their exchange students in Hong Kong because of protests.

As protests continue to happen in Hong Kong and have moved into university campuses, Canadian universities are concerned about their students. Canadians in Hong Kong are being told to come back to Canada by their universities. Five Canadian universities reportedly have students in Hong Kong and have reached out to them. 

Several schools from across Canada are in contact with their exchange students in Hong Kong and urging those students to come back to Canada because of the protests there.

According to The Canadian Press, 11 of 32 students from the University of British Columbia who are completing programs in Hong Kong have already left. 

"Given the ongoing tensions in Hong Kong, the university has reached out to all UBC students studying in Hong Kong to discuss their options and ensure they feel safe and supported should they decide to leave," said the university in a statement. "Our recommendation to them is that they leave."

Simon Fraser University near Vancouver, Queen's University in Ontario and the University of Toronto have all contacted students who are on an exchange and are arranging travel for those who want to leave. 

Protests began back in June because of a proposed bill that would let suspects be extradited to mainland China for their trials, which activists saw as China chipping away at the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong.

Even though the extradition bill was withdrawn, the demonstrations had already grown into a resistance movement against China.

Universities have been centre stage for protests during the past week and police actually blockaded Hong Kong Polytechnic University, trapping students inside.

So far just one Canadian school, Montreal’s McGill University, has reported a partnership with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the campus at the centre of a tense police siege.

The violence has closed campuses where 22 McGill students were completing exchanges.

"There is now a clear and strong message from our partner universities in Hong Kong to end the semester early," said the university in a statement.

On November 19, Canada updated its travel advisory page for Hong Kong and is asking Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution while in Hong Kong because of ongoing demonstrations.

The advisory said that political protests are taking place throughout Hong Kong regularly and recently "university campuses have been the scene of intense clashes between police and protesters."

According to Australian journalist Bill Birtles, who is in Hong Kong, some of the last remaining people holed up in Polytechnic University were being brought out by police on November 19.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University is the last holdout for protesters.

Queen's University issued a formal statement advising its students to return to Canada. Simon Fraser University and the University of Toronto have not issued statements but are both working to bring students back.

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