Chinese students face uncertainty

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Chinese students face uncertainty

Korean universities are scrambling to find ways to accommodate Chinese students who are returning to the country for the spring semester.

According to the Ministry of Education on Monday, some 50,000 Chinese students enrolled in local universities are planning to return to Korea by the end of February or beginning of March.

The Chinese students will be required to stay in individual rooms for 14 days after their return in a bid to monitor and stop the further spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Korea. Fourteen days is the incubation period of the infection.

Cheongju University in North Chungcheong has a total of 530 Chinese students but just 101 rooms available. As it can’t accommodate all its students at once, it has been encouraging some pupils to adjust their arrival dates.

“Some Chinese students who didn’t apply for dormitories are refusing to be quarantined saying they don’t have any symptoms of the virus,” an employee of Cheongju University said. “As the issue of placing them under quarantine is related to their autonomy and human rights, it should be approached very carefully.”

Woosong University, which has the largest number of Chinese students of schools in Daejeon, is in a panic over its insufficient dormitories to manage Chinese students.

Of all 1,164 Chinese nationals enrolled in the university, 991 are still in China. As the school doesn’t have enough space to assign single-occupancy accommodation to all of them, it has also been encouraging the students to delay their flights and take online courses instead.

Daejeon plans to offer assistance by offering facilities run and managed by the city as accommodation to quarantine Chinese students.

But space isn’t the only problem universities are facing.

Since Dong-eui University in Busan doesn’t have enough accommodation to house its 70 Chinese students who plan to arrive in March, some will be assigned to accommodation located outside of its school campus.

“Some Chinese students will be assigned to two or three nearby business hotels for 14 days of quarantine,” an employee from Dong-eui University said. “It will cost about 200 million won [$170,000].”

Pukyong National University is also looking for facilities outside of its school campus that can accommodate its 500 Chinese students who plan to arrive in Korea in March.

The Chinese students who will be required to stay in individual rooms should be provided with dosirak, or packaged meals, daily necessities and hygiene products.

The issue of who would pay for these items has not been decided yet. So far, universities are providing all necessities for their Chinese students who are currently being placed under quarantine.

“The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economy and Finance are currently discussing their plan to financially support universities,” an official from the North Chungcheong provincial office said. “Now, we are working hard to establish hotlines between local governments and universities in order to take preventive measures against the virus.”

BY SHIN JIN-HO, PARK JIN-HO [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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