Plans to relocate an elite scholarship programme from China to New York University Abu Dhabi have been abandoned due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This year’s Schwarzman Scholars, a prestigious scholarship designed to expose “future leaders” to Chinese culture and influence, was due to temporarily move to the UAE after its usual base, Tsinghua University in Beijing, did not open for its spring term due to the virus.
But the plan has now been ditched as “growing health and safety restrictions” had made “international travel inadvisable”, said vice-chancellor Mariët Westermann.
Under the original plans, up to 147 scholars, as well as some staff, would have relocated from China to Abu Dhabi, from March 1.
"The Schwarzman Scholars relocation will not move ahead, given that the situation has evolved and with growing health and safety restrictions making international travel inadvisable," she said.
"We look forward to future collaborations, particularly with the many areas of convergence and alignment we discovered as our teams worked together, and we can feel enormously proud of how we and our partners rallied to the needs of this scholarly community."
Plans are being drawn up by NYUAD to deal with the government's month-long suspension of school and university classes from next week.
“We are actively developing plans with NYUAD and NYU leadership, faculty colleagues, and our Abu Dhabi partners to apply the policy commensurate with our status as an international institution and residential campus,” Dr Westermann said, in an update issued to staff and students on Wednesday.
“We are fortunate to have great capacity for providing online education and campus services. I am confident that the preparations that we have in place will enable us to respond effectively to this change in how we teach, learn, work, and do research.”
The university is planning to make use of its existing online tools to deliver classes, which includes the ability to set up interactive lectures over the internet.
NYUAD-funded travel overseas, for example for academic conferences or study abroad schemes, have been suspended until mid-April. Non-essential personal travel has been discouraged.
In-person classes at NYU campuses in Shanghai and Florence had already been suspended due to the high number of cases in China and Italy.