Students required to leave Japan

Amy Friedenberger | March 20, 2011    

Pitt announced on Friday that it would require its students studying in Japan to return to the… Pitt announced on Friday that it would require its students studying in Japan to return to the United States.

Jeff Whitehead, director of the Study Abroad Office, said Friday that the University is following the advice of the U.S. Department of State.

The Department of State issued a travel warning on Wednesday, which “strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing.” The warning came amid fears that one of Japan’s nuclear power plants — Fukushima Daiichi — could have a meltdown. The country experienced an earthquake and a tsunami a little more than a week ago.

Neither Whitehead nor the students could be reached for comment Sunday to see if they had all returned safely to the United States. Pitt wanted students currently in Japan to depart by the end of Saturday.

Pitt also canceled trips for six Pitt students who were prepared to leave for the country in the next few weeks.

Students prepared to leave for Japan in the coming weeks received e-mails from Pitt, saying that the University has suspended their study abroad programs. Pitt plans to monitor the situation in Japan over the next few weeks before determining whether travel to Japan will be permissible in the future.

Pitt offered to help students in Japan book flights back to the U.S. and to pay the cost of the airline ticket or airline change fee, Whitehead said.

Pitt will work with each study abroad student and family to determine if credit or a refund of the program is possible. Students will not be able to return to classes at Pitt because the University has already passed spring break.

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