Program was “on hold” earlier this week
By David Scharfenberg
Daily Planet staff
The University of California, which put its fall 2002 study abroad program in India on hold earlier this week, has canceled it on the heels of a new strongly-worded travel advisory from the State Department.
The university temporarily suspended the program Monday after the State Department issued a May 31 advisory warning of growing tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed state of Kashmir. At the time, UC officials said they might reinstate the program if the situation improved.
But after the State Department ratcheted up its advisory Wednesday, warning that “tensions have risen to serious levels,” the university officially canceled its fall program.
“The State Department issued a stepped-up warning,” said UC spokesman Hanan Eisenman. “In the wake of that we just though the safest thing to do was to go ahead and suspend the program.”
The university will keep staff and insfrastructure in place at its two locations, Delhi and Hyderabad, to prepare for the eventual return of students.
There are currently no students in India, but 15 were planning to travel to that country later this summer, including five from UC Berkeley.
Eisenman said the university will allow the 15 students to take part in another study abroad program next semester or return to their own campuses.
The State Department’s Wednesday advisory warned that “conditions along India’s border with Pakistan and in the state of Jammu & Kashmir have deteriorated” and strongly recommended that American citizens leave the country.
“Tensions have risen to serious levels, and the risk of intensified military hostilities between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out,” it continued, adding that terrorist groups with links to al-Qaida are also operating in the area.
“The safety situation is deteriorating,” said Eisenman.”I think (suspending the program) was a prudent thing.”
UC suspended its study abroad program in Israel earlier this semester in the face of a growing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the past the university suspended study abroad programs in China after the Tiananmen Square uprisings, in the Middle East during the Gulf War and in Indonesia during the civil unrest of 1999.
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