China has reopened its border for Indian students and many of those studying medicine there said the institutes had assured them that the process of calling them back to the campus in batches would start soon.
China, which had suspended issuing visas more than two years ago because of Covid, resumed issuing visas to Indian students last month following the Centre’s intervention.
Around 23,000 Indian students study in China and most of them pursue medical courses. Since March 2020, the students enrolled with Chinese medical colleges have been attending online classes.
They have been unable to take part in practical classes, without which medical education remains incomplete.
To get a visa, a student must receive a certificate issued by the university concerned in China.
Students enrolled in universities there and their parents said some institutes had started sending the certificates, but most of the institutes recognised by the Indian government are yet to follow suit.
Most universities, however, have informed the students that they were in the process of recalling them back to the campus.
The students had returned home to Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal in early-2020. Some of the students said they were asking officials of the medical colleges there when they would be able to return.
“The universities have appointed coordinators to communicate with us. An online students’ group has been created for us to attend classes from remote locations. We have been asking the coordinator of the group about our return,” said a student of a medical college in China.
The university representative has made a post in the group that they would split students in groups and call them back in phases. “So please wait,” the coordinator has written in the group.
“School will gradually arrange for international students to return to China in batches. All work is still in the preparatory stage. Please wait for our notification of specific arrangements.”
The student forwarded the messages to The Telegraph.
“I am eagerly waiting for the certificate. Once I get it, I will immediately start the process of applying for a visa. Even if I have to return to China during Durga Puja, I will do so,” said a student of Kunming Medical University, who is now undergoing online classes from his home in Kolkata.
“The university has said it would make up for the practical classes that we could not attend. It is difficult to understand portions of the courses if we do not attend practical classes,” said another student of the university.
“In radiology, just studying textbooks don’t help. One has to see an X-ray plate for better understanding.”
The students of medical colleges in Ukraine, who had to return because of Russia’s invasion of the country, have been allowed by the West Bengal government to take part in practical classes at government-run medical colleges in Kolkata and other parts of the state as “observers”.
However, those studying in China have not been allowed such “observership”.
“Now, we are receiving calls from students and their parents about how to go about with the visa application process. For the last several months, they would ask whether classes would start,” said Poulami Mullick, CEO of Infinity, an education consulting agency based in Kolkata that sends medical students to China.
“However, many students are worried about the high cost of travel in the absence of direct flights between India and China. If they have to go through another country, the cost will be much higher,” she said.
Direct flights between the two countries, which were suspended following the outbreak of Covid, are yet to be resumed.