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EDUCATION REPORT - May 1, 2003: SARS and Overseas Study - 2003-04-30

Broadcast: May 1, 2003

(In the May 1 script, the Council on International Educational Exchange was misidentified as another organization, the Institute of International Education. A corrected version follows.)

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

In recent years, more and more students from the United States have attended programs in other countries during college. More than one-hundred-fifty-thousand students were overseas in two-thousand-one. After the September eleventh attacks, there were fears of terrorism. The war in Iraq added to concerns about travel. Now comes the new lung infection SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome.

A number of American colleges and universities have asked students to return home from affected areas. China is the nation hardest hit by the disease. Some schools are not sure what to advise. They worry that students may become infected on airplanes if they fly home.

Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, was among the first schools to ask students to come home. Most returned to the United States in early April. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is another school that wanted students to return.

Some schools have already changed plans for the coming summer and fall because of SARS.

The Council on International Educational Exchange in New York City organizes programs for students from many colleges and universities. It closed its program in Beijing. Institute officials said at least one teacher at the university where the program operates had SARS.

Another organization, the Institute of International Education, still has students in China and Hong Kong.

Yet another organization, the American Councils for International Education, sends students to countries of the former Soviet Union. This organization is based in Washington. It says SARS has not damaged its programs. One of its directors, Carl Herrin, calls SARS "a local issue” that affects students mostly where the disease exists.

Mister Herrin also says he expects no permanent damage to foreign study programs as a result of September eleventh. The Institute of International Education agrees. It did a study last year. The group found that just as many American students -- or more -- wanted to go overseas after the attacks as before.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.