The university says it cannot monitor scholars for the disease The University of California at Berkeley will not accept students from Sars-affected regions for its summer programme this year. The ban applies to students travelling from the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore and is believed to be the first such anti-Sars measure implemented by a US university. 'We have essentially cancelled programmes for those students,' said Chancellor Robert Berdahl in a written statement posted on the university Web site. The ban was necessary because the university did not have the appropriate facilities for monitoring and, if necessary, isolating students who developed Sars-like symptoms, the report said. 'These may seem to some like extreme precautionary steps, but they are taken with a great deal of consideration and advice,' the chancellor said. Students would receive a full refund and be readmitted to the summer session if the US Centres for Disease Control lifted advisories against non-essential travel to the region, he added. The move, which will affect hundreds of Asian students, will leave the prestigious Californian university, renowned for its political and social activism, US$1.5 million (HK$11.68 million) out of pocket. The ban does not apply to students taking full-time US undergraduate or graduate programmes starting in the next academic year, although these students will have to complete a detailed medical questionnaire before taking up places. Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, Secretary for Education and Manpower in Hong Kong, said the ban was unnecessary because the infection rate in Hong Kong was falling. Katherine Fung-Surya, director of the Institute of International Education in China and Hong Kong, a non-profit organisation funded by the US government for the promotion of educational and cultural exchanges, said she was worried other universities would copy Berkeley's decision. A spokesman for local study tour operator Venture Language Training, which runs sports and technology camps for Hong Kong students aged between 11 and 17 at Stanford University, San Francisco, was confident its programmes would not be disrupted.