London students going back to Hong Kong as unrest calms

Illustration credit: Agnes Meakin

Several university students in London have flown back to Hong Kong to continue their exchange programmes over the past few days, after being recalled by their home universities earlier last month.

Kai-Lam Wong, a second-year management student from Kings College told the Voice of London, ‘Although the majority of universities remain shut down at the moment, some of us are planning to do dissertations on Hong Kong issue and that’s why we have to be there to conduct further researches’. Wong is enrolled on an exchange programme at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for one semester until spring 2020.

‘Another 2 people from my year group have safely gone back to HKUST days ago and another exchange student from UCL will travel to Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) this Wednesday’, Wong added.

Wong described the situation in Hong Kong as ‘not that bad’ as over half of the police forces have now stopped monitoring the area where the university is located.

He added, ‘Many of the news report you’ve seen are just emphasising certain violence conflicts but avoiding some peaceful sites in the city. We’ve seen the protests have steadily calmed down now. In fact, even when I was studying at HKUST, I did not see that much violence on our campus’.

Leanne Yu, Global Mobility Senior Officer at King College London says the global Mobility team that take charge of all outgoing students from KCL has warned those students that they are ‘leaving their own lives at risk’ and has informed them about potential danger before they making their trip back.

Yu says, ‘It is our important role to ensure students’ safety when they’re outside and we would not recommend any of them going back to Hong Kong at this time. The team have been monitoring the situation and will keep in close contacts with those students who’s still there.’

A report by the Independent shows in the middle of November, at least 13 universities of the Russell Group including University of Edinburgh, University of Manchester and University of York have recalled exchange students in Hong Kong due to concerns for their safety.

The protests started in early June with a change of legislation of HK government that would allow for criminal suspects to potentially be sent to Mainland China.

The bill was withdrawn on 4thSeptember but demonstrations continued to further demand an inquiry into police actions and full democracy.

The anti-government protests shifted to local universities on 13thNovember when the police fired teargas at protester near Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Majority of institutes in Hong Kong including HKUST and Chinese University Hong Kong (CUHK) have suspended classes for the rest of the term after a set of violent stand-offs between police and protesters on campus.

Words: Shuyue Zou | Illustration: Agnes Meakin