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So far, Canada and Amnesty International are the only global entities to speak out against the arrests and they have called on other states such as the United Kingdom, the USA and France to follow suit.

Saudi Arabia has ordered roughly 15,000 Saudis studying in Canada to leave.

According to the Quebec Federation of Medical Residents, there are 250 residents and fellows at McGill who came from Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia.

The Crown Prince has a plan of reform of Saudi Arabia which will make the kingdom less conservative and more socially liberal while less dependent on oil.

The standoff pits a Saudi government that's slowly opening the door to women's rights against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an outspoken champion of women's advancement, who named a gender-balanced cabinet shortly after his 2015 election.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a loose association of the six Gulf Arab countries, the Arab League and Palestine also supported Saudi policy.

Castellanos has worked in Canadian universities for 20 years and also said she "has never seen something like this".

"I think they're being sensitive for a very important reason". They might study English in their first year, then begin a Masters degree or PhD.

Pike said it's hoped VIU advisers and counselors can meet with their impacted students this week.

She said the European Commission wants to understand the allegations against the activists and to ensure they receive a fair trial.

Vice Provost Patti McDougall said in an interview Tuesday only nine students from the kingdom are registered for classes in 2018-19, but they suspect the number who were planning to return was much higher.

The University of British Columbia says its president, Santa J. Ono, is working to clarify the situation and determine how many current and incoming UBC students might be affected.

"We're a little bit surprised by this sudden decision", said Associate Vice-President Livia Castellanos with University of Regina's global program.

Victoria Buzz has reached out to the University of Victoria for comment.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau doubled down Tuesday on Ottawa's message that the federal government will continue to stand up for Canadian values even as it finds itself at the centre of an ongoing diplomatic tumult with Saudi Arabia.

A tweet from Saudia announced its routes operating between the two countries would cease to function in a matter of days, marking the latest escalation in the spat that erupted over the weekend. The country's education ministry is reportedly looking to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools, while Saudi Arabia's state airline said it would suspend flights to and from Toronto.

Pike said many of their Saudi Arabian pupils studied at VIU for several years and were highly regarded. "We are always going to speak up for human rights; we're always going to speak up for women's rights; and that is not going to change", she told reporters in Vancouver on Monday.