Coronavirus outbreak prompts colleges to cancel study abroad programs

More than 83,000 people infected worldwide

A growing number of U.S. colleges are canceling or suspending their study abroad programs in regions affected by coronavirus, according to multiple reports this week.

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Many of the cancellations have affected student programs in mainland China, where the coronavirus originated, South Korea, Japan and Italy, the Wall Street Journal reported. University officials urged students to return home as authorities on those countries and others implement quarantines and other preventative measures to stop its spread.

Syracuse University and New York University in New York, and Gonzaga University in Washington, were among the institutions to pull students from cities in Italy, according to multiple reports. Officials cited the possibility of students being stuck abroad as a result of the quarantines.

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“We believe this is absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of our students being unable to leave Italy due to Italian confinement efforts,” said Steven Bennett, the Syracuse University's senior vice president for international programs and academic operations.

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Florida International University canceled study abroad programs in China, Italy, South Korea, Japan and other countries. NYU moved students that were originally set to study in Shanghai to online courses.

Nearly 37,000 American students studied abroad in Italy during the 2017-18 school year, according to data from the Institute of International Education.

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As of Friday afternoon, 2,866 people have died from coronavirus, including 2,788 in mainland China alone. More than 83,300 people have been infected with the virus.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.