Hong Kong is currently bracing for the Coronavirus outbreak, which has seemingly halted political protests that dominated headlines last year and sparked fears that the city is no longer safe.
With all these happening, does this mean international students can no longer enjoy a fulfilling and enriching study abroad experience in Hong Kong?
Although the outbreak has led to some universities suspending its student exchange programmes, international students shouldn’t be writing off Hong Kong as a study abroad destination just yet.
Universities in Hong Kong offer high-quality academics, with innovative courses providing students with plenty of real-world experience as they study in a major financial hub in Asia.
It’s also a beautiful country – known as a melting pot of cultures due to the rich diversity of its population.
But is it still safe? The answer is not so clear-cut.
But the bottom line is, you will be safe as an international student if you stay away from demonstrations and protests.
By actively participating in protests, refusing to cooperate with police and ignoring safety warnings by your university, that’s when international students invite trouble..
Like in an any country, international students have to be vigilant and mindful of current political situations and keep themselves safe.
If you choose to join political demonstrations, you risk jeopardising not only your safety but also your student visa status.
Increased security on university campuses
Students returning to university in Hong Kong will face increased security, with guards and turnstiles placed at the entrance to campus: https://t.co/OeJYZij9aX
— SCMP Young Post (@youngposthk) January 6, 2020
According to the South China Morning Post, all eight of the publicly-funded universities in Hong Kong have ramped up security efforts following the violent protests a few months ago.
This followed Education Minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung’s suggestion to improve their security and restrict entry into campuses and dormitories.
At least six universities were major sites of protests and stand-offs between police and demonstrators, causing significant property damage.
Following the tightened security measures, students and staff now have to produce their university cards before they’re allowed into campus. Security guards have been stationed at entrances.
At Hong Kong Polytechnic University, turnstiles have been installed at three major entrances.
A spokeswoman told SCMP that the university has set up an executive task force to “comprehensively review and enhance” safety and security measures on campus and dormitories.
Despite the violent protests that shook the country just a few months ago, citizens have been praised for fighting back against police who took controversial measures to curb protests.
Amnesty International recently praised Hong Kong citizens for protesting against “abusive policing tactics” such as the use of tear gas, arbitrary arrests, physical assaults and abuses in detention.
What about the Coronavirus outbreak?
— ForexFlow (@forexflowlive) January 30, 2020
Given its proximity to China, many travellers and residents are also worried about the virus spreading into Hong Kong.
At the time of writing, Hong Kong has confirmed its 12th coronavirus patient. Schools and some universities are extending the holiday period until March to contain the virus.
However, the government has introduced a series of measures to prevent it from spreading further. This includes restrictions on crossing the border from Hong Kong to mainland China by suspending or scaling back flights, ferries, trains and buses.