A SCOTTISH university has recalled students on exchange programmes in Hong Kong as civil unrest escalates.

The University of Edinburgh has asked the 21 students affected to return to the UK as soon as they can.

Anti-government protests have been raging in Hong Kong for months, and students and other protesters have taken over major campuses, building barricades and stockpiling petrol bombs and other weapons.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong has suspended classes for the rest of the year, and others have asked students to switch to online learning.

A University of Edinburgh spokesman said: “The suspension of classes at educational institutions in Hong Kong has affected 21 Edinburgh students, who are currently on exchange there.

“We are therefore requesting that all of our students in Hong Kong return to the UK, at their earliest opportunity.

“We are providing advice and support to each affected student to ensure all are in a position to return to the UK.”

Last month, the University of Edinburgh recalled all nine of its students studying in Egypt, after two were detained by authorities.

They have since been released but the university advised all of its students in the country to return home, citing concerns for their safety.

The decision to recall students from Hong Kong came as protesters who have barricaded themselves in the Chinese University partially cleared a road they were blocking and demanded the government commit to holding local elections on November 24.

One lane of the Tolo Highway was cleared in both directions yesterday morning, but the road remained closed after workers sent to clean up shattered glass and other remaining debris were threatened by protesters with bows and arrows and hard objects, authorities said.

“Since the highway is still filled with hard objects and devoid of any road signs or traffic cones, reopening the road would certainly cause danger to road users,” a government statement read.

The demonstrators warned the road would be blocked again if the government didn’t meet their demand within 24 hours.

The district council elections are seen as a barometer of public sentiment in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, which has been riven by anti-Government protests for more than five months. Pro-democracy activists say the Government may use the escalating violence as a reason to cancel the elections.

Meanwhile, in London, Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng was pushed to the ground by activists who were following her and shouting at her, injuring her hand, the Chinese Embassy said. An embassy statement read: “We express strong indignation and unequivocally condemn the activists. Now, they are taking such violence abroad and into the UK.”

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called the attack “barbaric” and said it violated the principles of a civilised society.