University of Sussex students currently studying at partner campuses in Hong Kong have been told to return home by University officials.
An email forwarded to The Badger by a student currently in Hong Kong explains that due to the violent clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters in the city, the University of Sussex have made the decision to reach out to students and ask they leave the city as soon as possible.
The letter, sent by the Admissions and Global Development department, states:
“Following the violent confrontations between protestors and police that have spilled onto some of our partner campuses within the last 36 hours, the University of Sussex has made the difficult decision to request that all Sussex students currently in Hong Kong return home.”
The letter goes on to explain that students who have already made plans to return back to the UK must inform the University of their flight details; those that have yet to book return flights have been offered help from Sussex to book onto one of two flights detailed in the letter – departing this afternoon, and early tomorrow morning.
The letter goes on to answer crucial questions that might be posed by students currently studying in Hong Kong. Those asking what they should do if they want to stay in Hong Kong have been told the following:
“The University’s considered assessment is that remaining in Hong Kong beyond Friday could mean putting yourself at risk and our advice is that you should leave as soon as possible. If you choose to stay, then we may be limited in how much support we are able to give to you should the situation deteriorate even further.”
The evacuation of Sussex students naturally raise questions about how their degrees will be implicated, as all of the students are only part-way through what would have been a full study abroad year. The letter states:
“We are still in discussion with your host institutions about what will happen to your study abroad year and will keep you updated. The main priority now is to ensure you are in a safe environment.”
Protests in Hong Kong have been raging through the city for six months. The protests began after an extradition bill – which would allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to China to face trial – was put forward by the Chinese government. Many Hong Kongers saw the bill as an infringement of Hong Kong’s political autonomy, and began peaceful protests against the bill. The protests quickly escalated and became violent, and the bill was later withdrawn by Carrie Lam. However, the protests have continued in response to alleged police brutality and use of extreme force against the largely peaceful pro-democracy protesters.
On Tuesday 12 November, clashes between police and protesters broke out at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), one of the University of Sussex’s partner campus’. Protesters had occupied the No.2 bridge on the edge of the campus, which overlooks the Tolo highway and MTR. According to the Hong Kong Free Press, police then occupied the bridge, firing tear gas at students, protesters, and the CUHK Vice Chancellor Rocky Tuan – who had arrived to negotiate with police representatives.
Students at the University of Sussex have expressed solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The subway connecting Falmer station and Sussex University currently houses an umbrella – the symbol of the Hong Kong revolution – made of post-it notes.
A University of Sussex spokesperson said:
“The University has been closely monitoring the situation in Hong Kong. Following the confrontations between protesters and police that have spilled onto some of our partner campuses with in the last few days, The University had made the decision to request that all Sussex students currently in Hong Kong return home. We have written to all our students to offer around the clock support and assistance in helping them to come home and cover the costs.
“We have also let them know that a senior member of University staff is in Hong Kong and on-hand to help and talk through any questions.
“The safety and wellbeing of our students is of upmost importance and we will continue to provide advice and whatever help is needed. We are also in touch with both the British Consulate and British Council and are liaising regularly to provide advice.”
The Badger has approached students currently studying in Hong Kong for comment.
This story is developing, stay tuned for updates.
Image Credit: Edward Drew