AACRAO reminds HEIs to practice "Framework of Flexibility" due to unrest in Iran and Hong Kong

November 22, 2019
  • AACRAO Press Releases
  • International
Excerpt from the AACRAO Pledge for Education

We as members of the higher education community, recognize our responsibility and duty to support access to higher education for all humans, particularly the most vulnerable among us.


The country is crippled and at a full stop, with little information being released due to the most violent protests in years which began last Friday. Amnesty International reports at least 106 people killed since the start.    

Banks have been looted and burned; university staff, faculty, and admin have joined the protests on campuses, including the University of Tehran; and the internet has been cut off. For institutions reviewing Iranian applications, applicants will face internal barriers to accessing testing, application fees, and possibly academic records during this period. It remains unclear how long the protests will continue, and when the government will allow civilian internet usage.

Hong Kong

Protests began over six months ago, with an increase of violence in November after a student protester died. Students and protesters across Hong Kong began to take over and occupy university campuses, along with other key areas of the city, clashing with riot police and shutting down the city. Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has been the campus most affected, due to its strategic location in the city, with over 1,100 people barricading themselves on the campus.

On November 17 and 18, 2019, the university saw some of the most violent clashes yet, with protesters setting fire to the main entrance of the institution attempting to block police from entering. As of November 18, most protesters surrendered to the police with only a small group remaining on. As we track updates, it is clear from reporting that PolyU is in ruins, and the stand off continues; there is no information regarding when PolyU will be operational.

Although PolyU has received the most recent coverage, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) was also occupied as of November 10, 2019 and has seen similar occupation and clashes with the police. CUHK’s public relations office stated that the campus is closed due to escalating violence, and “severe damage” to campus facilities.

In addition, the unrest has forced international students studying on the 5C visas, usually short term programs, to be evacuated. It is unclear how the unrest will affect student's ability to access academic records, degrees, or exam results.

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