Contact:   Di Saunders -- Office: 503-725-5714; Cell: 503-807-55

Source:    Christine Sproul, director, China Program, OUS: 541-737-3006


Beijing Student Exchange Program Suspended Due to Concern over SARS and Student Safety 

PORTLAND, April 23 - The Oregon University System (OUS) announced today the suspension of its Chinese intensive language program in Beijing, China due to the continued expansion of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).   

The decision was made in consultation with OUS's Chancellor's office and OUS medical experts. The decision was shared with representatives from the international education offices at the Oregon campuses who met yesterday afternoon to discuss the situation. The decision reflects OUS's ongoing concern for student safety, given the spread of SARS in Beijing and the recent State Department Travel Warning.  A survey of other U.S. programs in Beijing revealed that nearly all were bringing their students home. 

"Our chief concern is for the health and safety of our students," said Christine Sproul, director of the China Program for OUS. "With a growing number of SARS cases being reported in Beijing, we felt it was in the best interests of our students to ensure their safe return, and ease the concerns of their family members by bringing them home now." 

To date, no OUS students have been diagnosed with SARS. The sixteen OUS students in Beijing will finish midterms this week and have been instructed to depart at the end of the week.  OUS is supporting students with travel plans, helping eliminate financial obstacles due to the program suspension, securing as much academic credit as possible for students, and advising students on health care precautions upon their return. 

The OUS program at Central University for Nationalities was started in 1991. In addition to a resident faculty director, students are assisted by the Foreign Affairs Office of the host institution. Besides the China program, the Oregon University System administers a network of international exchange programs in Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Thailand.

Oregon University System (OUS) comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of eleven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to 


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