Indian students
After two years, China will allow some Indian students to return. Source: Greg Baker/AFP

The work on the return of Indian students’ to China has already begun. 

In a press conference on April 29, 2022, China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “China attaches high importance to Indian students’ concern for returning to China to resume their studies, and has shared with the Indian side the procedure and experience of the return of students from other countries. 

“The work on the return of Indian students has in fact begun and what needs to be done now is for the Indian side to submit a name list of students who have the needs to return to China.”

Lijian added that China understands that the number of Indian students is “so large that it takes some time” for India to collect the necessary information. “All in all, China has been prepared for the return of some Indian students,” he said.

Lijian stressed that the current COVID situation remains complex and severe, and that the arrangement for the return of international students to China needs to be made in a coordinated manner. 

This is in light of the changing international epidemic situation and students’ majors. “This principle applies equally to all foreign students,” he said.

Indian students

Thousands of Indian medical students are currently locked out of China. Source: Narinder Nanu/AFP

No timeline for Indian students return to China yet

In response to a question about the timeline of Indian students’ return to the country, Lijian said, “ I don’t have an answer on the specific arrangement at the moment.”

While China acknowledges that some students are on a government scholarship and understand students’ wish to resume their studies in China, he said the Chinese government “has provided financial support to them” in the hope that once they complete their studies, they will act as a bridge of friendship between their countries and China.

Lijian could not confirm the majors of students who will be allowed to return, but said, “I’m sure there will be communication on them through existing channels including our embassy to deliver on the good news.”

Indian students have previously held online campaigns to facilitate their return to China.

International students have been facing numerous challenges due to the country’s prolonged border closure. Many had left important personal belongings in their dormitories, thinking they would only be gone for their winter break, while others are finding it difficult to adjust to online learning.

Students in programmes with practical components, such as the MBBS, were in limbo as online medical degrees are not recognised in their home country. India’s National Medical Commission had cautioned Indian students to do adequate checks before choosing to pursue medical education in China amid COVID-19-related travel restrictions.

The council, which regulates medical education and medical professionals in India, said it does not recognise or approve fully online medical courses.