The Chinese University of Hong Kong has announced a premature end to the semester after two days of protester-police clashes on campus. Other universities also announced special term arrangements.

CUHK was the epicentre of fierce clashes on Tuesday as demonstrators and police fought for control of No. 2 bridge at the Sha Tin-based campus. Police on Wednesday said that officers had fired around 1,567 tear gas canisters, 1,312 rubber bullets, 380 bean bag rounds and 126 sponge grenades throughout the day, as protesters threw Molotov cocktails and bricks.

cuhk chinese university november 12
Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

The university issued a statement on Wednesday evening saying that term 1 of 2019-20 school year had been shortened by over two weeks. It was originally scheduled to end on November 30.

“The safety of our students and colleagues is always the top priority of The Chinese University of Hong Kong,” a CUHK spokesperson said in a statement.

“In view of the escalation of social movements across the territory, the continuous disruption to public transport services, as well as the severe damage done to facilities on campus, The Chinese University of Hong Kong announces the shortening of Term 1 in this academic year 2019-20, and all classes including undergraduate and postgraduate conducted on campus are called off with immediate effect until the beginning of Term 2 on 6 January 2020.”

“Detailed arrangements about assessment and learning support for all first-term courses will be worked out by a University Task Force,” it added.

"November 13" CUHK
The Chinese University of Hong Kong on November 13. Photo: Studio Incendo.

The unrest on Tuesday followed a citywide strike the day before which brought parts of Hong Kong to a halt as MTR stations closed and multiple roadblocks were erected. Masked groups remained in CUHK on Wednesday.

Suspended classes

Hong Kong Baptist University said all on-campus face-to-face sessions are to be suspended until the end of the semester, while classes and exams will be conducted online.

“Students’ safety is our number one concern while teaching and learning is our primary mission,” it said in a statement. “The above arrangements ensure that we deliver the above in a manner that minimises the interruptions to students’ learning.”

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology also decided to suspend classes for the rest of the week. Next week’s classes are to be conducted online and students will not have to return to the campus for the rest of the semester, it said, adding that details about exams will be issued at a later date.

cuhk chinese university november 12
Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

The University of Hong Kong said it had decided to suspend all classes for the rest of the week, however, offices will remain open. The school added it will inform students and staff over the weekend about class and work arrangements for the coming week.

Hong Kong Shue Yan University also said it had decided to suspend all classes from Wednesday to Saturday owing to possible traffic disruptions.

“The University urges all students and staff to stay away from violence and danger,” it said.

Hong Kong has been shaken by 24 weeks of protests triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill which would have enabled fugitive transfers to mainland China. The movement has evolved into calls for democratic reform and accountability for the police handling of the crisis, as well as other demands.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.