Featured, News, On Campus

29th January 2020

UoL Urges XJTLU Students To Return Home

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.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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:

Immediate Advice

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:

  • If you are in China, that you should leave China as soon as practically possible and return to the UK/your home country.
  • If you are not in China at the moment, you should not return to China at the end of your current travel plans and instead return to the UK/ your home country.
  • If you are currently in the UK/ your home country, you should remain there.
  • If you already have a flight booked for your return then, if possible, please try to amend this booking and return home as soon as possible.

Returning

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

Academic Options

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:

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

You wish to suspend studies now and not continue with any academic-related activity for the remainder of this academic year:

  • If you are a student who would normally be returning to Liverpool to complete another year of study: You will be required to suspend studies for the remainder of the academic year. You will return to your studies in Liverpool in September 2020. The modules you have already completed at XJTLU during Semester 1 will be recorded on your transcript, together with the associated marks and you will receive ‘Semester in China’ in your degree title.  
  • If you are a student who would be returning to Liverpool to graduate: You will be transferred off the ‘Year in China’ programme and onto ‘Semester in China’ and will be entered into graduation for this summer. Again, the modules you have already completed at XJTLU during Semester 1 will be recorded on your transcript, together with the associated marks, but you will not receive the Year in China component in your degree title.

You wish to continue with your academic studies this year: 

  • You will be able to graduate with a “Semester in China”  as per above and the modules you have taken at XJTLU in Semester 1 will appear on your transcript. 
  • We have arranged, as an exception, the opportunity for you all to take a ‘Semester in Industry’ option either at UoL or within Liverpool. This route will also be included on your degree transcript. We will ensure that there is no financial detriment to you. We will also try to include Mandarin lessons as part of this option (to be confirmed). The semester will be assessed, worth 60 UoL credits.

Student Finance

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 Wales: https://www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/undergraduate-students/grant-and-loan-overpayments/suspending/suspending-your-studies-and-returning-in-the-next-academic-year.aspx

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