scad hong kong
The move to shut SCAD Hong Kong after a decade caught students by surprise. Source: Dale De La Rey/AFP

After 10 years, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Hong Kong, the first US art and design university in the city-state, is permanently closing its campus located in the district of Sham Sui Po.

According to Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), it has vacated its building for the past four months. By June, the first and second floors have been cleared out, with the school’s name removed from the entrance.

Earlier in March, SCAD  announced to students and staff via email that it would discontinue instruction at its only Asian campus after spring 2020. WTOC reported that the university will be redirecting resources to its US and French campuses.

“For ten years, SCAD Hong Kong has been a vital participant in the cultural and creative renaissance of Hong Kong, and it has been our privilege to teach and prepare thousands of students from around the world for their professions,” said Khoi Vo, SCAD Hong Kong Vice President.

“SCAD Hong Kong has made enduring contributions to the city’s creative landscape and many SCAD graduates continue to live and work here,” Vo added.

The move caught students by surprise.

Kaylin Dashkewytch, a first-year student studying animation, told HKFP, “It is completely random in my eyes. Out of nowhere, we [students] all got that email saying this is it”.

“They simply weren’t willing to wait it out,” she said, referring to the pro-democracy protests and coronavirus crisis. “We really went out of our way to push SCAD to figure out why this is happening. We all feel that this is unfair.”

In a petition for the university to continue, it was stated that the March email was the first time the closure was indicated to students. Over 2,700 people have signed the petition at the time of writing.

The petition stated, “We are greatly disappointed with the lack of communication between SCAD and us students, especially in regards to a decision that is life-changing and requires careful thought and planning.”

Replying to a student’s request for explanation on Instagram, SCAD President and co-founder Paula Wallace wrote: “Our lease is up in Hong Kong, and that means it was time to assess the future success and best course for action for every student, faculty and staff.”

Although I understand that it may be hard to see this perspective, the Board of Trustees made their decision to ensure that every student in Hong Kong is able to receive a SCAD quality education and degree.”

scad hong kong

Over 2,700 people have signed the petition for the university to continue at the time of writing. Source: Dale De La Rey/AFP

“Students of SCAD HK” who is behind the petition said this option to relocate is “highly difficult and costly for Hong Kong students” on such short notice. Many are on Hong Kong government loans or depend on financial aid by the College.

A SCAD spokesperson told HKFP students from its Hong Kong campus — who were living at home in Hong Kong — would be eligible to have one trip, housing and board on campus as well as international student insurance paid for.

Any financial aid from the Hong Kong government and the costs to apply for a visa would also be borne by the college. Any “additional loans needed,” would have to be sourced by students.

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