US faculty advise students abroad to stay put

September 28, 2001

American students across Europe will not be panicked into rushing home following the attacks on New York and Washington, according to heads of US study programmes.

Students following courses at European universities and branches of US colleges are heeding advice issued by US embassies across the region, said Jiri Pehe, director of the New York University in Prague, a branch of New York's famous institution.

"It's too early to say how the attacks or any subsequent war or military action may affect students, although New York University is advising students that Prague and other cities in Europe are secure and it is also considering incentives to attract students for the next semester beginning in January, in case of cancellations," Professor Pehe, a political analyst and former adviser to Czech president Vaclav Havel, said.

Students who had just arrived for the autumn semester were unlikely to withdraw without good reason because they would be unable to claim fee refunds, he added.

A group of 60 American students had arrived in Prague two weeks before the attacks for an orientation period and begun classes just the day before at the university.

"By a miracle none of our students lost family or close friends in the attacks, although some had an anxious day and night last week trying to make contact with family in America."

The university, in common with branches in London and Florence, acting on advice from NYU in New York, told students they were free to drop classes, although Professor Pehe chose not to close any. It was felt better to give the newly arrived students the option to continue a normal schedule.

A psychologist was called in to help students cope. Jay Olivia, an NYU president, emailed students worldwide telling them not to take out their anger on people not involved in the attacks on America.

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