The recent arrest, expulsion, and deportation of Indian students studying in medical colleges in China for drug abuse has raised dual concerns about the quality of campus life here and the lack of information available to foreign students about Chinese law.
It also puts the focus on the soft underbelly of Chinese medical colleges where a nexus of interests between a few India-based agents and some university officials has misled students, promising them top facilities but delivering less.
The agents often become incommunicado after extracting lakhs from the families and a commission from the college, leaving students confused and stranded in a foreign country with no grasp of the local language and without family or peer back-up.
It becomes more difficult for “first generational learners” who have moved to China from smaller cities in India and find themselves in a world that is entirely foreign in terms of lifestyle, language, culture and even teaching methodology in colleges.
Several cases of depression, in fact, have been reported among Indian students who have not been able to adjust to life in China.
More than 21,000 Indian students are studying MBBS across 100 Chinese universities. And the number is increasing.
On an average, at least 3000 to 3500 Indian students annually enroll at medical colleges, attracted by less rigorous admission procedures and cheaper tuition fees.
The facilities at some Chinese colleges are also said to be better than Indian universities.
Involvement in drug-related cases, however, is becoming the big worry for families as it attracts strict penalties from authorities here; the numbers aren’t big but the trend is worrying.
A few Indian students were recently deported for using drugs in one university; in another case, passports of a few more were seized by the police and they were expelled from the college.
In May, 15 foreign students were arrested on drug-related charges at the Dalian Medical University; three were Indian.
According to Chinese law, if deported, the student cannot return to China to finish the MBBS degree, adding a hefty financial loss to the mental anguish and stress on them and their families.
The Chinese education ministry didn’t respond to a list of questions sent by HT on the problems faced by Indian students in China.
The email to the ministry mentioned specific issues faced by them.
The ministry remained silent to the question whether its officials had ever looked into the problems faced by the large number of Indian students coming to China to study.
Sources told HT that for many students the world of a Chinese college could well be different from the one promised by agents in India.
Easy availability of drugs is just one of the problems.
The quality of teachers in certain colleges is questionable with many professors unable to teach in English. As a result, the quality of education suffers. Students complain that many professors teach only through power-point presentations, which aren’t backed by discussions and they, the students, are often left to fend for themselves.
At some places, the shocking practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctors teaching MBBS courses has been reported.
At some others, students get little clinical exposure and a few medical colleges don’t even have attached hospitals where they can complete their mandatory medical attachment or internship.
In one case, a batch of Indian students was flown to Moscow this year to complete their internship at a Russian medical college.
In certain cases, students were promised better facilities like single or double-room accommodation but later made to share one room with a number of students.
For many Indian students, sourcing vegetarian or Indian food becomes a chore though they are promised easy access to Indian food by agents.
Recently, the Indian embassy released an official notification from the Chinese education ministry, a list of 45 Universities in China that are authorized to give admission to foreign students (including Indian students) to undertake MBBS degree course (in the English language) in China for the year 2019.
These 45 colleges are different from the 214, which also offer MBBS but in the Chinese language.
Many Indian students, however, are grappling with some problem or the other at nearly all colleges, HT has learned.
Indian students in China (All-time high): 23198
Indian students studying medicine: 21000+
Number of Indian students in China is fourth after South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan.
Number of foreign students in China: 492185
Source: Education Ministry, the Indian Embassy.
First Published: Jun 23, 2019 17:32 IST