Students to take online classes as exchanges to China cancelled

Claudia Dalby looks into how the coronavirus affected students that were suppose to study in China.

UCD has told students required to spend a semester in China that they will be taking online language classes put together by Quinn School of Business as UCD’s partner universities in China remain closed. 

University Observer reached out to UCD for information, and in an email reply a spokesperson stated “the Quinn School of Business is putting alternative arrangements in place for students who were scheduled to study in China from March - June 2020.”

For students of Stage 3 International Commerce with Chinese, for whom a semester or year in China is mandatory, UCD states “the Business School is putting together a set of online resources so that these students can complete their language HSK requirements.” These students would normally be studying in two of UCD’s partner universities in Beijing, Renmin University or China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), to take modules through Chinese.

The decision comes as Chinese universities continue to postpone the beginning of the Spring semester due to the novel coronavirus. UCD students due to travel to China this semester were contacted by the university in order to rearrange their semester abroad. The spring semester in Chinese universities typically starts in early March, therefore UCD students had not necessarily travelled to China yet for their exchange.

There was no disruption to students coming to UCD on exchange from China, as term began before any travel bans were put in place.

For students going on an elective semester abroad it is likely they will instead go to different countries, if there are places available, or stay in Ireland, although UCD did not state explicitly what the arrangement would be, simply noting that UCD’s partner universities “are unlikely to reopen in a timeframe to accommodate these students.”

As Stage 2 students are currently submitting their nominations for exchange in the Autumn Semester, those interested in studying in China are being encouraged by UCD to “consider alternative options.” Given the partner universities in China are closed, UCD would be unable to discuss the Autumn Semester 2020 with the staff in the exchange offices of these universities, and it is unclear when they will reopen.

The coronavirus, originating in Wuhan, China, has recently been renamed COVID-19, distinguishing it from the group of coronaviruses of which the common cold and SARS are a part of, of which the cause and cure have not yet been discovered.

UCD are following the government’s advice on travel to China, which consists of avoiding non-essential travel to mainland China, and if you have an underlying medical condition avoiding travel there in all cases.

There are currently 64,461 confirmed cases worldwide at the time of writing, including 1,384 fatalities. 

65 people in Ireland have so far been tested for the virus at the National Virus Reference Laboratory in UCD, including one UCD student who returned from a trip to China over the winter break. All have had negative results.