The University of California, concerned about the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, has canceled its summer study abroad program in Beijing, China, and has barred students from SARS-affected countries from enrolling in UC Berkeley summer classes.
“We cannot predict that the increased SARS control measures being put in place in Beijing will contain SARS by late June,” said John Marcum, director of UC’s Education Abroad Program, in a statement about the study abroad cancellation. “We are not willing to gamble with the safety of UC students.”
The cancellation of the China study abroad will affect 130 students, including 20 from UC Berkeley, who planned to take language classes at Beijing Normal University this summer.
The ban on new students from China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong enrolling in Berkeley summer classes is expected to affect about 600 students and could cost the extension program as much as $1 million in lost revenue, according to an interview with UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl, which was posted on the university’s Web site Monday. The housing program also stands to lose $500,000 from the ban, he said.
Returning full-time UC Berkeley students from SARS-affected countries will be required to fill out a health questionnaire and will be monitored for 10 days by University Health Services, Berdahl said.
The move to cancel the China study abroad summer program, announced Friday, comes two weeks after UC canceled its spring study abroad program, recalling 44 students from Beijing in the middle of the semester. No UC students have contracted SARS.
The Chinese government, which faced criticism for failing to confront the disease quickly, has stepped up its efforts in recent weeks — firing government officials in Beijing and stepping up its quarantine program.
As of Monday, Beijing city officials said they had quarantined almost 16,000 people. The Chinese government reported nine new SARS deaths nationwide, for a total of 206, and 160 new cases for a total of 4,280, according to the Associated Press.
The nine-campus UC system still has 250 students in academic programs throughout Asia — in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.
UC spokesman Bruce Hanna said the university believes students outside China are safe.
“We’re being very vigilant, particularly about those Asian countries closest to the epicenter” of SARS, Hanna said.
Students registered for the program in Beijing will have the option to take part in a similar program at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J.
The university hopes to re-open its Beijing program in September, Hanna said.