News and Analysis

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:51 a.m.

University cancels spring study abroad in Japan

The 13 students studying or planning to study abroad in Japan this spring will be relocated, after the University canceled undergraduate study abroad in the country for the entire semester.

The University canceled study abroad in the country for the semester for security reasons, as the country faces a potential nuclear catastrophe in the wake of a powerful earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country nearly two weeks ago.

Seven undergraduate students and one graduate student were already in Japan, while four undergraduate students and one graduate student were scheduled to travel to Japan at the end of the month to begin their programs.

As Japan recovers from the devastating earthquake and nuclear power situation, several foreign university programs in Japan have opted to remove their students from the country. Meanwhile, the State Department is continuing its efforts to evacuate Americans from Japan and has begun offering anti-radiation drugs to its workers.

Donna Scarboro, associate vice president for international programs, said the undergraduate students who were in Japan have left or have booked flights out of the country, though one graduate student has chosen to remain in the country.

“We are very grateful that all our students are safe, and we send our support and best wishes to the good people in Japan as they begin the recovery process,” Scarboro said in a news release.

Graduate programs in Japan do not begin for several weeks, as the spring semester there begins in April. The University is working with five graduate students who were on break in South Korea and China prior to the start of classes and who left their belongings in Japan.

Students were scheduled to participate in programs at various institutions including Waseda, Kyoto, Sophia and Nanzan Universities. Though some of the institutions did not cancel their programs, GW decided to call the students back because of safety concerns.

Scarboro said the Office for Study Abroad stayed in close contact with students and acted quickly to ensure their safety.

“We are very fortunate to have dedicated and knowledgeable professionals in the GW Study Abroad Office who have the right systems and protocols to get in touch quickly with colleagues abroad, and others who can provide information,” she said.

If students need the missed coursework to graduate on time, the University will cover the cost of summer courses for them.

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  • chronos13

    If classes are cancelled, then what will happen the students’ credits? Will they have to take extra summer classes, stay another semester, or will the school try to redeem those credits somehow?

    • Lauren French

      The University will work with the students on a “case-by-case” basis the release said. If students were relying on their study abroad credits to graduate, GW will cover summer courses for those students.

  • Peter

    It was a hasty decision based on innacurate information taken from the sensational American media. The US government has only issued concern for people located 50km from Fukushima, and Tokyo is located 150km. Osaka and Kyoto are much further. Regardless, the nuclear situation has come under control in recent days, and does not pose the threat it first seemed to.

    After Chernobyl, radiation 3000 times normal was measured in Scotland, yet you don’t here that sort of stuff. It would require constant exposure to 300x the normal amount of radiation for three years to have exorbitantly higher chances for getting cancer.

    Source: The Guardian

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