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Marathon blasts hurt US image as safe place to study

Updated: 2013-04-19 02:03
By Agencies in Washington and Beijing ( China Daily)

Marathon blasts hurt US image as safe place to study

Boston University students hug each other and cry following a Wednesday service for the Chinese graduate student who was killed during the bomb explosions during the Boston Marathon at Marsh Plaza on the campus of Boston University in Boston. WANG LEI / XINHUA NEWS AGENCY  

The death of the Chinese student in the Boston bombings presents a potential image nightmare for US higher education, which is determined to counter perceptions that the United States is unsafe.

The Chinese woman, who was studying for a master's degree in statistics at Boston University, was identified as one of the three dead in Monday's attack at the city's famed marathon, which also wounded about 180 people.

Gan Xiaoying, mother of a 16-year-old who had visited many schools on three continents as she planned for her son's study overseas, said the main reason she dropped the US from consideration, despite the quality of education there, was the safety concern.

"I cannot imagine how I would feel if what happened in Boston happened to my son.

"He is too young, and I only have this child," she said, adding that he may go to the US later for graduate school "when he is grown up enough to take serious care of himself".

Gan's son studies at an international school in Shenzhen, where he is preparing for examinations to enter British schools.

Violence is hardly unique to the US, and few expect a sudden exodus of foreign students, who often have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on their US education or consider US universities to be exceptional.

When students decide whether to study abroad and weigh factors such as quality and cost, attacks such as those in Boston — or gun massacres at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in December — can only be downsides.

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