17th February 2020
In recent days, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gavin Brown, has contacted all outgoing students in X’ian Jiaotong – Liverpool University (XJTLU) to advise leaving China “as soon as practically possible”. This comes after concerns raised by students and parents following the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country.
This newest branch of coronavirus, following previous outbreaks of the virus such as SARS and MERS, is one previously undetected by humans and still fairly unknown. This has created mass confusion and panic across the world, with previous strains of the disease being extremely fatal. The newest strain is following suit.
Whilst the virus “is not a substantial threat in Suzhou”, the University feels great concern over the safety of their students, and appear to be prioritising this. With consultation from XJTLU, the University has advised the following:
Since XJTLU is closed until February 22nd following Chinese New Year holidays, students are advised not to return to Suzhou. Whilst not legally required by either the UK or Chinese government, the following has been strongly advised:
Students who are unable to rearrange flights are assured that most students will be eligible to reimbursements for return flights to their home country, but should first apply through their insurance companies. If students lack the funds, meaning they aren’t able to purchase a flight whilst waiting for reimbursement to follow, “you should contact International SOS – they will be able to assist you in arranging a flight and they will then claim the cost directly from our insurers. Please can we ask that if you are able to arrange and pay for your flight yourself that you do so, as this will help International SOS to assist those students who are in the most financial need”.
“If you decide not to return to XJTLU, then, as per your contracts, the daily rental cost on your accommodation will be raised to reflect the shortened contract length. XJTLU will then, on your behalf, receive back your deposit in cash and use this to pay any additional rent due. […] You will not be held liable for any rent in Semester 2”.University of Liverpool
As advice to leave Suzhou comes halfway through the academic year, the University has offered solutions to the queries of what happens to students’ degrees and studying. The University has offered two options:
Students who have decided to continue studying will still be eligible for Student Finance. However, students who have suspended their studies or choose, in their final year, to graduate with just “Semester in China” will no longer be eligible for Student Finance. Student Finance may also calculate that you have been overpaid, depending on when your course is suspended.
“However, students who receive their funding from Student Finance England and who would find themselves in financial hardship due to this, can apply to Student Finance for any overpayments to be included in their normal repayments after graduation and can also apply to be exceptionally allowed to keep their finance for the remainder of the academic year.”University of Liverpool
Students who will be returning to UoL to continue studies in 2020/21 will also be able to make an application to the UoL Hardship Fund via the Money Advice and Guidance Team.
For any queries or issues, do see the UoL Money Advice and Guidance team. Should you be funded by other bodies, contact them.
Student Finance Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/if-your-circumstances-change-while-you-are-studying
Student Awards Agency Scotland: https://www.saas.gov.uk/_forms/sas4.pdf
The University expresses their understanding and sympathy with feelings of “disappointment” the students may feel in losing out on such an experience, but again stress their concern for student safety. One UK home student in China states that:
“I think the uni’s handled it pretty well with how quickly the situation has come about. They’ve been pretty transparent with what they know and what they’ve implemented, and have made it clear that they think we should return home. […] It’s obviously a shame to be missing another half year in China, with the first term being an incredible experience, but I guess is for the best that we don’t risk anyone getting ill”.
In such a difficult and unsettling time, support has been made available for students.
“You can access 24/7 support via www.bigwhitewall.com and also short-term counselling phone support via International SOS. To find the number for the International SOS assistance centre closest to you, see https://www.internationalsos.com/locations.”
Feature Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons