UCD advises students in Hong Kong to return home
International students evacuating as universities close early due to ongoing protests
Thousands of students were involved in erecting barricades on various campuses on Thursday in a fourth successive day of protests that has paralysed the city with many arming themselves with bricks, petrol bombs, catapults and other homemade weapons. Photograph: Lam Yik Fei/The New York Times
Irish students based in Hong Kong are being urged to ensure their safety among ongoing violent protests with University College Dublin (UCD) advising its students on exchange programmes to return to Ireland.
UCD registrar, Mark Rogers, said on Thursday that the college had been in direct contact with its students as well as liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs over the political unrest in the autonomous Chinese territory.
Hong Kong media have reported that international students have begun evacuating the former British colony as some universities announced they were closing prematurely during the current term in response to ongoing protests on campuses.
Others have suspended classes for the rest of the week.
Thousands of students were involved in erecting barricades on various campuses on Thursday in a fourth successive day of protests that has paralysed the city with many arming themselves with bricks, petrol bombs, catapults and other homemade weapons.
The decision to close university buildings follows several violent clashes between police and protesting students at several campuses including the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Hong Kong Polytechnic University earlier this week.
UCD students, who are understood to be less than five in number, are attending exchanges with CUHK and HKU.
“We have recommended to our students that they return home, and working with our partner universities, we are providing them with the services and supports they need to do so,” Professor Rogers said.
A spokesman for Trinity College Dublin said it had been in weekly contact with its students who are based in Hong Kong.
It is believed there are nine students from Trinity attending universities in the city.
“We are careful to respect the autonomy, independence and decision-making of each student,” the spokesman said.
He said Trinity has written to each student to ask them to carefully consider the situation and advise the college if they would like to stay or return to Ireland.
The spokesman added: “We are continuing to receive and review these responses and are working with the academic departments and universities to facilitate whatever decision is made”.
Media reports have suggested the Hong Kong government is set to introduce a curfew at the weekend in a bid to stop protests that have disrupted daily life in the territory for the past five months.