Students pursuing medical courses in China and wishing to take admissions this year are in a dilemma now with the National Medical Commission (NMC) cautioning students over travel restrictions and the suspension of Chinese visas since November 2020 due to COVID-19 outbreak.

In an official notice, the NMC has said that some universities in the People’s Republic of China have started issuing notices for MBBS admission for the current and upcoming academic years.

Moreover, a large number of international students, including those from India, have not been able to go back to China to continue their studies due to the restrictions.

But the strict travel curbs and suspension of visas may lead to online education only. As per the existing norms, the NMC does not recognise or approve medical courses completed through online mode, NMC Secretary Sandhya Bhullar said, further asking the students to refer to FMGE Regulations before applying or planning to seek admission in any institution in China/ foreign institutions.

Meanwhile, parents of students admitted to various medical colleges in China are requesting the government to grant migration facility so that the present students can move to colleges in other countries where the course is recognised by the NMC.

Embassy help sought

Citing previous instances of such relief measures, the Parents Association of Indian Students in China has written to the Indian Embassy in Beijing for intervention.

“We have requested the embassy to suggest to the Government of India to allow migration since China has closed its borders and restricted the travel of students,” say association president Raju Gupta and general secretary S. Ramakrishna.

Parents have cited similar relaxation for Indian medical students in Ukraine when a war-like situation existed between Ukraine and Russia in 2014.

Ram of Medico Abroad, a consultancy specialising in medical education in China and the erstwhile USSR, said that the Graduate Medical Education Regulations-1997 actually permit migration of students during a war-like situation.

At that time, the Indian Embassy in Kiev recommended to the Ministry of Health in India to permit the transfer of students given the hostile situation in Ukraine. “COVID has created a war-like situation of much higher scale and the Government of India should explore this relaxation in the interests of over 23,000 Indian students pursuing medical courses in China,” Mr. Ram suggests.

Mr. Ram hopes that the situation will be normal by September or October this year when China will completely open its doors to foreign students.

Wait for October

“This could have happened in March itself but the government seems to be extra-cautious due to the Winter Olympics. Once that is over, the process of renewing the visas will start and the backlog of lakhs of foreign students including Indians is likely to be completed by October when the new semester starts,” he says.

He feels that the Chinese universities may extend the academic year by at least six months to plug the gap in teaching and clinicals for the existing students.