Over the last few weeks, China has been reopening its borders to some foreign nationals but not student visa holders. The country is the third-largest destination for international students globally, with 492,185 studying in there in 2018.

“Universities aren’t contacting us. If we message them, they don’t reply”

“This year for winter holidays I came home and have been waiting for my return for nine or 10 months,” a Pakistani student studying with a university in Wuhan told The PIE News.

“We’ve been getting classes online but the standard is very low. The Chinese teachers always say ‘sorry, my English is not good’,” he continued.

“Universities aren’t contacting us. If we message them, they don’t reply. Chinese students keep going to the UK [and elsewhere] for studies, there are even flights just for them, but they are not doing anything for international students.”

Several students The PIE spoke with noted a lack of communication from their schools and “poor management” of the situation.

“It’s been nine months of [being] stuck here, watching classmates in China… while I sit back, watch online videos and pray to join them soon,” said another student.

MBBS medical courses are a popular option for international students in China.

However, students have said that their courses cannot be done online, pointing to the fact that many campuses around the world have allowed students needing to do lab work to come on campus even while other courses are remote.

“We need labs. We need at most some hospital visits. No one in the world accepts an MBBS done with online classes,” said a student from Qingdao University in eastern China.

Those who remained in China during lockdown found themselves subject to stricter lockdown rules than local residents.

Because the timing of the outbreak coincided with the winter holidays, many students had returned home or were visiting other parts of the country. Those still in China were told not to return to campuses, forcing them to find and finance their own accommodation.

For those that were abroad, there is still no sign of when they will be allowed to return, with some anticipating it will not be before the next semester in 2021.

According to a note obtained by The Hindustan Times, China’s Ministry of Education told the Indian Embassy in Beijing that “it is suggested that students should maintain close contact with relevant Chinese colleges and universities and arrange to study in China in strict accordance with the suggestions and guidance of the colleges [and] universities.”

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