HSE News Service spoke with Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov about how the ongoing quarantine in China is affecting HSE projects in the region and what the University is doing to help HSE students who are currently in China continue their studies.
— What is the situation at HSE in connection with the coronavirus epidemic?
— First of all, I would like to express our support and solidarity with our Chinese partners and students who have found themselves in a difficult situation. We enjoy positive professional relations with our Chinese colleagues, and we intend to further strengthen these relations in the years to come. To our regret, we have had to cancel a number of events in the region, and projects that were planned for the end of the spring and the beginning of the summer are now being reconsidered. However, these cancellations will not affect our long-standing ties.
Of course, it is our students who are the most vulnerable in this situation. We currently have 228 students from China studying at HSE University in our preparatory, undergraduate, and graduate programmes. At the beginning of the semester, 5 students enrolled in HSE preparatory programmes and 9 students enrolled in degree programmes were not able to resume their studies.
About 30 HSE students who were slated to study abroad in our various mobility programmes in China were forced to cancel their trips. One HSE student is currently studying at the University of Hong Kong remotely from home, and he plans to return to China as soon as the University there lifts its quarantine.
— Russia has extended its border closure with China until April 1. How will HSE help its students who are currently in China continue their studies?
— We are in contact with all of our students currently in China. For undergraduate and graduate students, programmes are now coordinating individual curricula, adapting coursework into an online format, and postponing other courses until next year. In addition, HSE preparatory programmes are providing coursework online for Chinese students who were unable to return to campus due to the border closure.
In any case, we understand the situation our students are in and are ready to help. We hope that they will nevertheless treat the compulsory ‘holiday’ as a time to study. All of them are still full-time HSE students!
— Does the university administration have any special recommendations for faculty, staff, and students during this time?
— We are continuing to comply with instructions from the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health, and the Federal Service for Surveillance of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) regarding the prevention of the spread of the disease. No cases of infection have been detected at our university, but we will continue to monitor the situation, especially while taking into account information that is coming from Europe. Of course, the most important thing for us to do is to follow any restrictive measures that the authorities may put in place.
Our Chinese students and colleagues should understand that the restrictions on entry into Russia that have been extended to April 1 must be strictly observed. We also recommend that our students and employees use extreme caution when considering travel to not just Asia but elsewhere in the world. Employees and students should also take both recommendations from our partner universities as well as from the authorities into account. I would say that the most important thing to do now is to exercise great caution and be patient.
In order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, HSE University students who are currently in China can receive an individual online learning curriculum up to March 2, 2020.