Covid curbs: India’s medical regulator cautions against enrolling in Chinese universities

Published on Feb 09, 2022 07:10 PM IST

The NMC notice pointed out that thousands of Indian medical students studying in China are stranded in India because of the travel restrictions for more than two years, putting their careers in jeopardy

Students queueing to undergo nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus with their parents in Ningbo in China's eastern Zhejiang province, as schools prepare to reopen after closing due to the outbreak of the virus. (AFP/FILE)
Students queueing to undergo nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus with their parents in Ningbo in China's eastern Zhejiang province, as schools prepare to reopen after closing due to the outbreak of the virus. (AFP/FILE)
BySutirtho Patranobis

India’s top medical education regulator on Tuesday warned students against enrolling in Chinese universities as the country continues to ban the entry of foreign students in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The warning by the National Medical Commission (NMC) was issued after India’s external affairs ministry was alerted that a some Chinese medical universities were inviting applications for admission to MBBS programmes for the current and upcoming academic years – despite a ban on foreign students from entering China.

It means students who enrol in these Chinese universities this academic year would likely have to take classes online for the near future, and, as a law, only online medical degrees are not recognised in India, the NMC said.

The NMC notice pointed out that thousands of Indian medical students studying in China are stranded in India because of the travel restrictions for more than two years, jeopardising their careers.

In the context of admission notices from Chinese universities, the NMC said, “any prospective student needs to be aware that the Government of People’s Republic of China has imposed strict travel restrictions in the wake of Covid-19 and suspended all visas since November 2020”.

“A large number of international students including Indian students have not been able to return to China to continue their studies due to these restrictions. Thus far, there has been no relaxation in the restrictions,” the notice added.

It said Chinese authorities had conveyed earlier that the courses will be conducted online until the restrictions are lifted.

“As per the extant (existing) rules, National Medical Commission does not recognise or approve medical courses done only by online mode,” the notice said.

Before applying to Chinese or any foreign institution, students have been advised by the NMC to carefully go through the “FMGE (foreign medical graduates) Regulations”, which are mandatory requirements for an Indian studying medicine abroad.

“In view of the above, students are advised to exercise due diligence in choosing where to pursue medical education from,” the NMC said.

The NMC notice was issued on Tuesday, the same day when the Chinese foreign ministry declined to commit on the issue of allowing stranded Indian students back in China, days after offering to arrange for Pakistani students to return to resume on-campus learning.

The foreign ministry said it was considering the return of thousands of international students stranded abroad to China in a “coordinated manner” but declined to elaborate when it was planning to do so.

More than 23,000 Indian students study in China, the majority enrolled in medical universities.

All but a handful had returned to India in a staggered manner in 2020 following the Covid-19 outbreak in China but are now stranded in their home country because Beijing has banned foreign students from returning to universities.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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