The University of Sydney has urged Australian students on exchange in Hong Kong to return home as pro-democracy protests intensify on university campuses, the ABC is reporting.
The university has written to students after Hong Kong University and other institutions suspended classes for the last few weeks of semester.
The ABC obtained an email that said the safety of students was of “utmost concern and based on all the information available to us, and in light that HKU has now suspended/cancelled the semester, the University of Sydney requires you to depart HK immediately and make your way back to Australia”.
“If you have already left HK, please let me know where you are now,” it says.
“If you need assistance and advice on how to depart HK, please let me know and USYD will assist you.”
Universities have this week become a focus of battles between riot police and anti-government demonstrators demanding greater democracy. On Tuesday police raided the Chinese University of Hong Kong, setting off violent clashes and a swell of criticism.
Police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in recent days.
Protesters have brought supplies including petrol bombs and bows and arrows, international media has reported.
On Thursday students from Europe as well as mainland China and Taiwan were leaving the city after a night of clashes that resulted in several serious injuries, including a fractured skull to a 15-year-old boy and an elderly worker who was struck by an object during a clash between protesters and residents.
Australia expressed its concern over the escalating violence this week, with the foreign minister, Marise Payne, calling for restraint from all sides.
“We reiterate our view that it is crucial for all sides – police and protesters – to exercise restraint and take genuine steps to de-escalate tensions,” she said in a statement.
University students have been permitted to complete their courses and exams online.
Guardian Australia contacted the University of Sydney for comment.
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