Study Abroad Programs On Hold Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Across the globe, from America, Europe to Australia, universities have issued a crackdown on foreign students coming from and going to China. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, travel of students has been prohibited to contain the disease in order to prevent a pandemic that could cause far more damage. 

Of the 12 confirmed positive cases reported in the United States, two were university students, hence the precaution has been put in place. While one student was from Arizona State University, the other student was from University of Massachusetts who had just recently returned from a trip to Wuhan, China. 

The relationship between the two countries has been sour for a while now due to the on-again, off-again trade war. The outbreak has exacerbated the already strained relationship. “The virus represents an unprecedented disruption for the academic ties between the U.S. and China,” Brad Farnsworth, vice president of global engagement at the American Council on Education, said, as reported by the Associated Press.

The previous SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003 was not as disruptive, according to Farnsworth. “The whole higher education relationship was not nearly as complex as it is now.We have many, many more students going in both directions,” Farnsworth added. However, he maintained that academic collaborations could be rescheduled in the near future and relationships can be mended, provided the outbreak does not escalate.  

university Universities across the world are being cautious about students coming in and going to China amid the coronavirus outbreak. Pixabay, public domain

Across the pond in Australia, classes are about to begin soon and the travel ban enforced last week has prevented 56 percent of students coming from China. "There are 189,000 Chinese students right across our tertiary education sector," Education Minister Dan Tehan told the media. "Forty-four percent of those students are onshore, 56 percent are still offshore." 

International students contribute to the education sector, which is considered the third largest export for the country, and the Australian government is keen on its stability. "What we've seen from SARS was that the bounce-back in the international education sector was quick and was immediate," Tehan added. The situation is no different in Singapore, where the total number of confirmed cases reached 33 as of Friday.

One of them is a 42-year-old teacher at the Victoria Junior College. She had last attended school on January 31, after which she had taken a leave of absence due to a high fever and was hospitalized within three days. The whole campus was disinfected and 14 days of leave was declared mandatory for students and colleagues who were in close contact with her till the last day of work.