After two years of waiting, Sri Lankan students are now the latest cohort of international students permitted to travel to China to resume their studies on campus. The announcement came via an official media release by the Sri Lankan Embassy in China on April 21, 2022.
The statement mentioned that the Chinese Embassy in Colombo has “finalised two groups of students” to travel to China, although no number has been specified at the time of writing. “The Embassy will continue with its efforts to enable all students to return to their studies,” it said.
— Prasar Bharati, Beijing (@PBSC_Beijing) April 21, 2022
The welcome news comes amid a devastating economic crisis that has caused nationwide food shortages, 12-hour power cuts, food scarcity, and a lack of medical resources in the island nation. Sri Lankan students abroad report facing financial struggles to keep up with the study costs as inflation hit an all-time high in their home country, with some having to make the difficult decision to forfeit their studies.
Those returning to China to continue their education will need to weather the challenging situation of leaving their families behind in an increasingly untenable situation, a predicament shared by many Sri Lankan students overseas.
Travel to China: No news on Indian students’ return
As Sri Lankan students brace for a gradual re-entry into China, Indian students are left wondering if their continuous pleas and campaigns for a return will finally be heard. Around 23,000 Indian students, most of whom are studying medicine, have been pressing for the Indian and Chinese governments to arrive at a concrete action plan with a clear timeline for a return date.
Indian medical students locked out of China risk losing years of their hard work, as the National Medical Commission of India has declared that it won’t recognise or approve medical courses done entirely online. Online courses have been ineffective for many, who can’t reap the full benefit of their education.
“We were forced to come back from China in January 2020. It’s been two years since we have been attending online classes. We don’t have any recognition of whether the Indian government will accept us with these online classes,” Murshid Aleen, a fourth-year medical student at Yangzhou University, told ANI News.
Earlier in March, it was reported that India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has raised the plight of Indian students to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the latter’s visit to Delhi.
“Minister Wang Yi assured me that he would speak to the relevant authorities on his return on this matter. He also recognised the particular concerns that medical students have in this difficult situation,” Jaishankar was quoted saying.
No further development permitting Indian students to travel to China has been reported since the meeting.