The “temporary ban” on the entry of international students into China, imposed on March 28, 2020, did not turn out to be short-term and has lasted for over two years.
Thousands of Indian students pursuing MBBS at Chinese universities are staring at an uncertain future with no update on their return.
Harsh Vyas, a 21-year-old MBBS student at Beihua University in China’s Jilin City, had returned to India during his winter break in January 2020. He was to return to China in March 2020 to begin the second year of his degree but has been “stuck” in India ever since and is currently taking classes for the third-year syllabus.
“We only want to know when China will reopen its borders for international students. It’s been two years since we were forced to pursue MBBS online. Most countries, except China, have called back foreign students. We do not know the exact reason we are being compelled to stay here (India),” Vyas told The Indian Express.
Jaipur’s Abhay Pathania is a fourth-year MBBS student at China’s Xinjiang Medical University. He said students could no longer wait to get back to China as they had already incurred “major” academic losses in the past two years.
“Online classes can only help students learn the theoretical concepts until the third year of their MBBS degree. Fourth and final-year students have to immerse themselves in practical clinical training. After this year, going back to China will be of no use, especially for those who joined in 2017 and 2018,” said 23-year-old Pathania.
According to the data released by the Indian Embassy in China amid the Covid outbreak, over 20,000 Indian students were enrolled in medical degrees. One of the reasons Indians flock to China to pursue MBBS degrees is the affordable tuition fee. The average annual fee for MBBS courses in China is around 21,000 Chinese Yuan (Rs 2.5 lakh), which ranges from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 20 crore per annum at a private medical school in India.
Another reason could be the cut-throat competition to get a high rank in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG), where over 16 lakh students take the entrance exam for over 83,000 MBBS seats.
Ghanshyam Yadav has been studying medicine at the University of South China, Hengyang, since 2018. He is finding it difficult to learn the practical components of medicine via online classes.
He said Indian students are suffering more than their counterparts from other countries due to New Delhi’s ban on Chinese apps. “Instead of globally used applications like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, Chinese universities use homegrown apps like WeChat, SuperStar and DingTalk (Ding Ding). We have to connect to a VPN to access these apps, which often results in a slow system and a lag in the audio and video during online classes,” Yadav said.
Students claim lack of proper communication and information from authorities is also making them jittery. The latest information from the Indian Embassy in Beijing was released on February 22, 2022, which said: “Mindful of the concerns of Indian students, who want to return to China to resume their normal in-person education, the Embassy of India in Beijing has been continuously highlighting these issues with the relevant Chinese authorities in the last two years.”
Pathania fears that his degree may become invalid if online classes continue due to lack of practical experience. “There is some news doing rounds about our degree not being valid due to majority of studies conducted online. Universities are clueless about our return, the embassies are unable to provide any updates and the lack of clarity from the government on the validity norms is only adding to the confusion,” he said.
The National Medical Council (NMC) of India had on February 8 clarified that students could not appear for the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), a licensure examination to practise in India, if the medical courses were conducted online.
Rohit Kumar Yadav, a fourth-year MBBS student at Shihezi University, said there was a possibility that the total duration of his degree could be extended to incorporate practical training.
“The duration of the degree is five years, with an additional year of physical clinical training. Universities have completed the theoretical components of the syllabus during the last two years via online learning. They may extend the duration of the degree from six years to seven or eight years to provide hands-on experience. If this happens, it will really pinch our pocket and hamper our professional plans,” 21-year-old Yadav added.
Courtesy: The Indian Express