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DKU prepares to hold in-person classes for Fall semester amid restrictions, uncertainty

Undergraduate students at Duke Kunshan University in China are contributing written and multimedia content to The Chronicle, usually published every other Friday. 

Administrators from Duke Kunshan University are preparing to resume in-person instruction at the Kunshan campus this fall, according to a Monday email to students from DKU leadership.

The email announced a later start day to classes, August 28, as a result of the delayed Gaokao examination, a test that Chinese students in the incoming Class of 2024 are required to take. International students from the Class of 2024 were admitted earlier in March. 

The delayed opening is a departure from early plans for Duke’s Durham campus, which include beginning the fall semester a week early.

The email added that up to 80 Duke undergraduates unable to get to the United States are anticipated to spend the Fall semester at DKU. However, it stated that due to “ongoing visa and travel restrictions,” it is unknown whether Duke will be able to accommodate DKU students for the Fall semester.

The update also stated that DKU’s International Student Services Office is preparing visa paperwork for incoming international freshmen, hoping for travel restrictions to be lifted in time for them to come to China. 

China has suspended entry of foreign nationals holding visas since March 28. For international students, staff and faculty to be able to travel to campus in the fall, such restrictions would need to be lifted. The email acknowledged that “visa processing times, travel restrictions, and flight availability” could cause international students and some international faculty to have delayed arrivals in China. 

To respond to these challenges, DKU is planning for international students and faculty to engage in remote coursework until they are able to return to China, the email stated. Efforts include technology upgrades to improve the digital learning experience and partnerships with the DKU Center for Teaching and Learning and Duke Learning Innovation to ensure educational quality. In order to accommodate students living on campus and away, DKU plans to hold most courses in a hybrid format with elements of in-person and online instruction.

Charlie Colasurdo is a sophomore in the second-ever graduating class of the Duke Kunshan campus’s undergraduate program, located outside Shanghai, China.


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