New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities heaved a sigh of relief with China announcing plans to allow the return of “some” of them who have been stranded in India for over two years following the visa and flight restrictions imposed by Beijing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rohit Kumar Yadav, an MBBS student at Shihezi University, said he is relieved that he will be able to return to campus and appear in offline exams. “Medicine is a practical-oriented course and despite all the efforts by university to make online classes more interactive, it is not the same kind of exposure… I am glad this difficult phase will end and I will be able to return to campus and also appear in offline exams,” he said.
A student of the University of South China in Hengyang, who did not wish to be identified, said, “The past two years have been very difficult not only personally but also academically. I hope it’s all over now and we can get back to normal campus life.” “We have been asked to submit required information by filling up a Google Form on the Indian Embassy’s website. Even if our return is in phases, it’s a welcome move,” said a student of Harbin Medical University.
“The chances of fourth-year and final-year students returning to campuses are high as they require practical experience more than first- or second-year students,” he added. According to earlier reports, over 23,000 Indian students, mostly studying medicine in Chinese colleges, are stuck in India after they returned home as the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. They could not return to China due to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese government to arrest the spread of the contagion.
Since then, they made desperate attempts to return to China to re-join their classes but had to confine to online classes as Beijing cancelled all flights and visas for Indians. Besides the students, hundreds of families of Indians working in China too were stuck back home in view of China cancelling visas and flights from India. In a joint notice issued on March 25, the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) asked Indian students to “exercise due diligence” with respect to universities in China in the wake of COVID-19 imposed travel restrictions by the Chinese government.
“Our university had conveyed earlier that courses will be conducted online…. UGC and AICTE do not recognise such degree courses done only in online mode without prior approval. I was worried about this,” said Neeraj Kumar, an MBBS student. Following the Chinese announcement, the Indian Embassy in Beijing sought the details of the students intending to return.
“Following the meeting of External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar with the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Yi on 25 March 2022, the Chinese side has expressed its willingness to consider facilitating the return of Indian students to China on a need-assessed basis,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement on Friday.
“In order to facilitate this (return), the Indian Embassy intends to prepare a list of such students which will be shared with the Chinese side for their consideration. Therefore, Indian students are requested to provide necessary information by filling up the Google Form, latest by 08 May 2022,” it said.
PTI GJS SMN