While violent political upheaval and rioting in Egypt continues to intensify, the six University of Wisconsin students studying abroad in Alexandria were safety evacuated to Prague, Czech Republic, Monday.
UW spokesperson John Lucas said the students landed in Prague before taking a flight to the United States. He added the university decided to indefinitely suspend study abroad programs that were scheduled to depart for Cairo.
The students are part of the Arabic Language Program, which is a collaborative program with Butler University. Additionally, two students had planned to depart Wednesday for Cairo to participate in two separate programs before the school called off all trips.
The decision comes after the U.S. State Department issued a warning to advise citizens against traveling to Egypt because of continuing violent demonstrations in the capital and Alexandria that call for the removal of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Dean of Students Lori Berquam said the decision to bring the students home required a meeting from officials representing both UW and Butler with the safety of the students being the main goal.
Berquam said though UW officials are glad to hear the students are safe, the next challenge awaiting the students will be restructuring the semester they had anticipated spending abroad.
"We will be working closely with the students, the Office of Student Life and International Academic Programs," Berquam said. "There will certainly be a little bit of a challenge."
Returning students will meet with advisers to determine possible classes to add or alternate study abroad programs that may still be available.
Dustin Carell Cowell, UW professor of African Languages and Literature, said though protests have extended to Alexandria, evacuating the students was likely not met by any extenuating difficulties.
"Though some flights are stranded, there are still some flights in and out," he said. "I'm sure that the officials would allow Americans to charter a flight out of the country."
Lucas also said the airport in Alexandria remained under army surveillance and UW officials are tracking the students' arrival time back in the U.S. nearly to the second.