South Asian MBBS students enrolled in Chinese universities face uncertain future

Thousands of international students who have chosen to study medicine in China are concerned about their academic plans. China has yet to open its borders to foreign students enrolled in its universities, and those pursuing an MBBS program there claim to be more disadvantaged due to a lack of practical experience.

Sanjeev Gupta*, 21, from Jaipur, Rajasthan, has been pursuing an MBBS program at the University of Southern China since 2018 and returned to India during the winter break in January 2020. Since then, with hundreds of students Indians, he was awaiting any formal communication from the authorities.

“The universities have no idea of ​​our return and the embassies are unable to provide an update. We wrote to the authorities about six months ago and have still not received a response. The new semester at our university started on February 19 and we don’t see ourselves returning to campus anytime soon,” Gupta said.

According to data released by the Indian Embassy in China amid the covid outbreak, more than 20,000 Indian students were enrolled in medical degrees.

Indian students say they are suffering more than their counterparts in other countries due to New Delhi’s decision to ban Chinese apps. Gupta agreed and said Chinese universities, like all institutions around the world, operate remotely. However, instead of globally used apps like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, Chinese universities use local apps like WeChat, SuperStar and DingTalk (Ding Ding).

“The banning of Chinese apps is hampering my learning process. Connecting to a VPN to access these apps makes the system slow and audio/video hangs often. If going back to offline lessons is not a option, removing the ban on these apps will at least provide us with the basic theoretical knowledge that our classmates receive,” he added.

When asked if Indian students were facing the brunt of deteriorating Indochinese bilateral relations, Gupta refused and said, “If it was a political issue, China would have granted entry to students from other countries.

Apart from the problems in accessing Chinese apps, Pakistani students are also sailing in the same boat and have no idea when they will come back. Muhammad Harram, 22, from Lahore in Pakistan, is also pursuing an MBBS at the University of Southern China and returned to his home country in January 2020 after semester exams.

“When I returned to Pakistan, there was no coronavirus pandemic. The Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) has issued an official statement that any foreign degree in medicine or dentistry acquired through online medium without training clinic will not be valid. If we don’t come back soon and continue e-learning, my degree might become invalid,” Harram told indianexpress.com.

On November 8, 2021, the PMC released a statement that read, “Any application submitted for licensing or recognition purposes, based on online qualification, without providing proof of actual and physical clinical training, will not be considered. account and will be rejected. .”

Although the Pakistani government has not banned any apps in China, Harram said students need their Chinese mobile SIM cards to log into their apps if they get disconnected for any reason.

“One night before an exam in 2021, I updated my mobile phone and all saved passwords were gone. In Pakistan, I couldn’t access my Chinese mobile SIM card and ended up be marked as absent on that paper. Similarly, we cannot speak directly to any teacher and have to go through the class rep,” Harram said.

During the second week of February 2021, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly agreed to organize the return of Pakistani students to campuses. The Foreign Ministry said it was considering the return of thousands of international students to China in a “coordinated” manner.

Abhishek Jaiswal, 23, who completed his 12th grade at Capital College & Research Center in Kathmandu, Nepal, is experiencing similar difficulties. Jaiswal’s degree will be completed in 2024, and he declined to name the university he attends.

“In our hometown, there is no learning environment. MBBS is a degree based on practical experience which we lose. Covid restrictions are relaxed across the world. All of us enrolled in Chinese universities hope that we will return to campuses as soon as possible to save our future,” he said.

*Name changed on request