Indians studying MBBS in China came home early last year for their winter break and have remained stranded since; unable to return as Covid tightened its grip and now getting more anxious as the months roll by with no clarity on when Beijing will lift travel restrictions.
While online classes have been continuing, the lack of access to hands-on practical classes puts a big question mark on their education and future as medical doctors, said several students. “I have attended classes online, but we are completely missing out on practicals. I have completed two years of my course but I still haven’t done an anatomy dissection,” said Delhi-based Richa Singh*, a second-year MBBS student at Xi’an Jiaotong University.
With most Chinese applications banned in India, Singh* said many students, including her, have been forced to install virtual private networks (VPN) to access their classes. While their inability to resume physical classes for a large part of 2020 was understandable due to global travel norms, the students are pressing for a deadline on when they can return to China.
According to 2019 data, over 23,000 Indian students studied in different courses in Chinese universities and colleges. Of them, over 21,000 enrolled to study MBBS in China.
“Since China is preparing for the Winter Olympics, it is likely that these students will be allowed to return by September-October this year,” he added.
Nearly 3,000 students came together recently to form a group, Indian Students in China, on instant messaging software Telegram to brainstorm on how to draw the attention of the governments of India and China.
A Twitter campaign with the hashtag #takeusbacktochina has been started. They also reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month to request the government’s intervention.
“We are 25,000 Indian students studying in Chinese universities who have been forced to participate in online classes for the past 17 months because of travel and visa restrictions. Our medical study requires a lot of practical and group work, but our entry to China and our respective universities have been banned for the past year-and-a-half and we are suffering every day,” the letter said.