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University of MN Schools Cancel Study Abroad Programs in China

Emily Ness
Updated: February 26, 2020 09:23 PM

All University of Minnesota schools have cancelled their study abroad programs in China for the time being amidst growing concerns about the coronavirus.

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“The decision was made on behalf of all students in China largely out of the concern that there would not be enough available flights for students to return and that certainly did become the case,” Karl Markgraf. Chief International Officer & Director for UMD’s International Programs & Services said.

Fortunately, students from the Twin Cities campus were able to make it back before flights to and from China were cancelled and the one student from UMD studying in China was already home for break at the time the decision was made.

Two students studying in Seoul, South Korea will also be coming home after their study abroad program was cancelled by organizers in Seoul as a result of growing concerns about the virus.

“They have accepted that as a reasonable and rational consequence and a wise decision,” Markgraf said.

According to Markgraf, programs have been cancelled in the past due to factors, such as, weather.

“Several years ago there was a tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan and I was then at the University of Wisconsin system. At that point, we also shut down all programs returned students immediately,” Markgraf said.

Beyond being able to study abroad in China, students from China studying abroad here have been impacted by travel bans.

“We have a good number of Chinese students and I hear from them a lot about just the disruption to everyday life. People are quarantined at home in China and how difficult that is, how disruptive that has been for the economy and daily life so that too is a challenge that our student body is facing,” Markgraf said

For the time being, no other programs have been cancelled, but university officials say they are keeping a close eye on the virus' impact in countries students are studying in all around the world.

“This is obviously an emerging issue throughout the world so we are paying a lot of attention to it and we’re engaged in a lot of conversation with colleagues throughout the world,” Markgraf said.

The University of Wisconsin Madison made the decision to cancel their study abroad program as well. Information about that can be found here.

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Emily Ness

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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