Irish students forced to return home from Hong Kong

Megan Jones

The Global Office at University College Dublin is “still deliberating on what to do next” in order to get their students who are currently studying in Hong Kong out of the region, according to a source in the office.

A number of students from UCD decided to take their studies to Hong Kong this term, studying at both Hong Kong University (HKU) and at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

However, amid violent protests in the region which have recently spilled over onto university campuses including that of CUHK, UCD Registrar Prof. Mark Rogers has requested they return home.

Just last week, protesters barricaded the CUHK campus and fired bricks and petrol bombs at police who arrived at the scene.

“Both of these universities have been closed for the remainder of the term. 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,” he told TheJournal.ie.

While DCU does not currently have any students studying in Hong Kong, nor do they have any agreements with Hong Kong institutions that facilitate student exchange, several other Irish universities do.

Trinity College Dublin, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway and UCD all have partner universities in Hong Kong, however, no students from NUI Maynooth went on exchange to the autonomous region this year.

NUI Galway has taken the same approach as UCD and has requested their students (seven in total) return home and continue their studies in Galway, while Trinity College has taken a different approach to the matter.

A spokesperson for the Global Relations Office in Trinity said the university has been in “weekly contact” with their students there but that the office respects the “autonomy, independence, and decision-making of each student”. Therefore the university is leaving the ultimate decision up to the student themselves on whether they would like to stay in Hong Kong or return home.

The violent protests in Hong Kong were triggered by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill by the Hong Kong government. However, the crisis runs much deeper and it boils down to protesters wanting Hong Kong to be completely free from Chinese rule and influence.

The protests have been going on for five months now and its latest phase has been played out on university campuses, likely triggered by the death of a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology student on November 8th.

Megan Jones

Image Credit: Studio Incendo