India’s top medical education regulator National Medical Commission (NMC) has advised the students to exercise due diligence in choosing the destination for their medical education.
The word of caution by NMC comes especially in the context of medical education in China after India’s External Affairs Ministry was alerted that some Chinese medical universities were inviting applications for admission to MBBS programmes for the current and upcoming academic years despite China continuing to ban the entry of foreign students considering the Covid-19 pandemic. In the context of admission notices from Chinese universities, the NMC said in a notice issued on Tuesday, “any prospective student needs to be aware that the Chinese Government 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. Students who enrol in these Chinese universities this academic year would likely have to take classes online for the near future, and, as “As per the extant (existing) rules, National Medical Commission does not recognize or approve medical courses done only by online mode,” the notice 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. 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. The NMC notice was issued on Tuesday, the same day when the Chinese foreign ministry declined to give any timeline on the return of allowing stranded Indian students back in China, days after offering to arrange for Pakistani students to return to resume on-campus learning.
In response to a question by Prasar Bharati Beijing, the Chinese 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. Almost all of them returned to India in a phased 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.