McGill reaches out to its students in Hong Kong as violence escalates

McGill reaches out to its students in Hong Kong as violence escalates

McGill University says it has been in contact with all of its students in Hong Kong amid violent protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The Montreal university has students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the campus at the centre of a tense police siege. In all, McGill has 22 students on exchange in Hong Kong.

"We reached all of our students and most are leaving Hong Kong. Many are going to their home country or travelling abroad," spokesperson Cynthia Lee said in an email Tuesday. 

"We continue to communicate with our students. Given the current situation, the health and safety of our students is our utmost priority."

Amid the escalating violence in Hong Kong, other Canadian universities have also taken steps to ensure their students are safe.

The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University near Vancouver, Ontario's Queen's University and the University of Toronto also said they have contacted students and are helping make travel arrangements for those who wish to leave.

Concordia University, for its part, said it does not currently have exchange students in Hong Kong. 

The pro-democracy protests have been taking place since June, but in recent weeks, clashes between demonstrators and police have begun spilling onto university campuses, prompting post-secondary institutions to suspend classes early in a bid to curb the violence.

Global Affairs Canada said it is "closely monitoring the situation at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in light of recent demonstrations and violence."

"Global Affairs is aware of Canadians affected and are providing consular services to them and their families," the statement said.

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