After two years of severe border controls prevented many students from completing their programs, the Indian government has made an active effort to enable their return.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday that it is asking Beijing to take a “friendly approach” toward student return.
“We have highlighted the plight of the students and how the continuation of these stringent restrictions was putting the academic careers of thousands of students in jeopardy,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the MEA, said at a media briefing. “Our embassy in Beijing, our consulates and ministry have been taking up this matter with the relevant authorities in China on numerous occasions, since the restrictions were imposed.”
Bagchi clarified that External Affairs Minister S Jaishanker personally mentioned this issue with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in September of last year, but received no answer.
“Let me clarify that till date, the Chinese side has not given any categorical response about the return of Indian students. We will continue to urge the Chinese side to adopt a congenial stance in the interest of our students and that they facilitate an early return to China so that our students can pursue their studies.”
For the past two years, Indian students, along with many others, have been barred from entering the nation. Many are locked in academic limbo, unable to progress with their unfinished degrees.
“Being in such a programme where we have to treat patients, we need practical sessions and hands-on experience,” Meera, an Indian student who requested to stay anonymous, told Study International. “We have been missing all those precious years and experiences.”
Several students have been unable to transfer to other universities because they were unable to retrieve their transcripts. The National Medical Commission of India, which supervises medical education and medical professionals in the country, previously advised Indian students to conduct thorough research before deciding to pursue medical education in China due to COVID-19-related travel limitations.
The committee went on to say that it does not recognise or approve completely online medical courses. According to a study performed by the China International Student Union, students are suffering from poor mental and physical health as a result of the extended border closure. Out of 1,473 replies, 53% stated they had “severe mental health concerns,” 47% said they were unable to fulfil their university credits, and 37% said they were unable to sustain themselves.
Female Asian students have suffered as a result of the lack of clear updates on China border news. Many students who study online have had to manage additional responsibilities for their homes and families.
“A lot of the time, even while I’m doing my research, I still have to assist out with cleaning,” Sarah, a Singaporean international student, recently said.
There are reports that Thai students have arrived in Shanghai safely and are being quarantined. In addition, the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad is said to have awarded visas to a select group of Pakistani students this month. There have been numerous indications that the Chinese government is collaborating with a number of nations to promote student return.
In February, a joint statement was issued indicating that China will arrange for the repatriation of Pakistani students and that the government was willing to restart travel with Singapore to allow students to continue their education. In all cases, however, no specific timeline was specified.
On multiple instances, Chinese students have expressed their wish to return to China for their studies, and have encouraged their government to intervene on their behalf. The hashtags #PMSavelndianStudentsOfChina, #TakeUsBackToChina, and #GOIHelpIndianStudentsOfChina have been used regularly on Twitter in an attempt to gain the attention of the authorities in order to facilitate the return of their students.
They also mentioned the Beijing Winter Olympics, which permitted athletes and officials from a range of countries to enter China despite the ongoing ban on international students.
“We have received WHO-approved immunizations and are ready to be quarantined.” “We simply want to go back!” one kid tweeted.
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