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UW-Eau Claire students studying in Japan being evacuated

RELEASED: March 31, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has asked six of its students who currently are studying in Japan to evacuate after the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning urging U.S. citizens not to travel to Japan and encouraging those already there to return home.

The UW System also has directed campuses to suspend study abroad programs in Japan and to begin evacuating students, said Karl Markgraf, director of UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education.

Five UW-Eau Claire students currently are studying at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan, through a UW-Eau Claire study abroad program, Markgraf said.

One UW-Eau Claire student is studying in Nagasaki, Japan, as part of a yearlong UW-Platteville program, Markgraf said, noting that UW-Platteville has asked her to return home. An additional UW-Eau Claire student was slated to study in Nagasaki during the spring semester but she has remained in the U.S. because of the crisis, he said.

All the UW-Eau Claire students being evacuated are covered by insurance that includes an emergency evacuation benefit, Markgraf said.

The students studying at Kansai Gaidai are midway through their spring 2011 term, Markgraf said. The Japanese university is trying to identify ways to help the students complete the courses from afar to minimize how the situation impacts the credits they earn toward their degree, he said.

"Every effort is being made at UW-Eau Claire to help meet the returning students' academic and social needs," Markgraf said. "The university is making accommodations available in the residence halls for the returning students; staff and faculty are working with students to arrange for the on-campus continuation of their Japanese language courses; and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff are working with the students and Kansai Gaidai University faculty to help students complete the courses they had started in Japan."

All the UW-Eau Claire students being evacuated have the option to return to study in Japan for the fall semester, Markgraf said. Some already have indicated that they plan to exercise that option, he said.

UW-Eau Claire's Financial Aid Office is working with the students to determine how the change in their international program plans will impact their financial aid, Markgraf said.

For more information, contact Karl Markgraf, director of UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education, at 715-836-4411 or markgraf@uwec.edu; or Samantha Potempa, study abroad coordinator for UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education, at 715-836-4411 or potempsh@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB/JP

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