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A narrow but strong hope is here for those studying in China but currently residing outside China. International students currently living outside China may return to their Chinese Universities from February 2022.
As per recent statement issues by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a conference held on December 9, 2021; China is taking great measures to ensure the safe return of international students in their Chinese Universities. And the progress of this process lies on the developing Pandemic situation across the globe.
Coronavirus spread from Wuhan, China back in February 2019. Countries all around the world have gotten into multiple lockdowns ever since March 2019. When the pandemic first out broke in Wuhan, all the universities in China were shut down to avoid the spread of the novel virus.
The shutting down of universities was tough on the students residing on the campuses. The toughest time for the overseas students, especially. With flights banned, strict COVID restrictions, no movement allowed within and out of the campuses; other than an emergency, the international students were stuck unproductive and lifeless on empty campuses.
Eventually, when the COVID-19 virus settled down, special flights commenced operating to bring back the international students to their respective home countries. Ever since early March 2020, international students have been residing in their home countries waiting to hear the announcement of campus life to begin back in China.
It has been almost 22 months since the ban on travel for overseas students to China was implemented. Unfortunately, about 50,000 international students that had enrolled in China in early 2019 have not had any luck in hearing back from the authorities nor have they received an expected timeline.
China was quick with controlling the spread of the coronavirus and even built a hospital dedicated to covid 19 that admitted covid 19 infected patients only in less than fifteen days. The world’s second-largest economy has had very strict coronavirus restrictions and does not allow foreigners to travel to the country. This allows them to maintain their zero COVID policy where they ensure that the infected rate stays as low as possible.
All the various strict coronavirus restrictions have frustrated the students to an extent that they have been voicing their feelings on Twitter using the following hashtags: #TakeUsBackToChina and #TakeStudentsBackToChina. #ReturntoChina.
The country is more focused on having maximum control over the movement occurring in and out of the country to help control and fight the outbreak. Mr. Wang, the President of The Center of China and Globalization positively hopes that severe restraints are put on the entire country so that the pandemic can be contained. The containment of the outbreak will lead to the gradual reopening of all the institutes in China.
The closest news to allowing international students back in china the students have heard are flying rumors that Time printed mid-November.
The Time pronounced that the Government of China hopes that the country will gradually reopen and loosen the strict restrictions of the pandemic after hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics. Furthermore, China’s State Council Mr. Henry Wang informed that if a close collaboration took place between Washington, Beijing, and World Health Organization (WHO) then it is more likely that the borders and the country itself would reopen in phases.
The Government of China hopes to host the Winter Olympics 2022 first and then reopen the country in phases; because the Government plans to hold the games in such a manner that does not only follow the zero Covid policy but also ensures that the novel virus spread can easily be contained in case of another outbreak. All of their planning is highly precautionary as it is about time China reopens its doors to the outside world, especially to the International Students.
Other countries such as the USA, UK, Turkey, and even South Korea have processed and granted visas to the foreign students enrolled in their respective universities back in 2020. China on the other hand has not given out an official statement or an expected timeline.
Hope from Two Universities:
Although there has not been an official announcement, The South China Morning Post posted that two universities of china would soon be allowing international students back on the campus. Duke Kunshan University and New York University Shanghai are two universities that reportedly emailed their enrolled students. The email stated that students may be allowed on campuses in time for the next semester.
Duke Kunshan University Email:
There are certain conditions under which international students will be allowed back on the campus of Duke Kunshan University. The emails sent out to the students enrolled in DKU held a set of guidelines. According to the Duke University’s newspaper, The Chronicle, the email said that a detailed plan has been constructed to facilitate the arrival of overseas students. In addition, it was advised that the students get their vaccination shots, certificate and prepare their visa applications.
The students will be allowed to enter the country and the campus in groups over a certain period of time. This will allow the faculty of DKU to ensure that proper COVID-19 guidelines and quarantine measures are being followed.
Unfortunately, the email lacked any tentative dates for the visa processes or the arrival of international students. But it did mention that the progress to ensure the possibility of reopening was positive.
New York University Shanghai Email:
On the other hand, New York University Shanghai emailed their overseas students saying that it is a great possibility that next semester would be on campus. The Dean of NYU Shanghai advised the students to register for their courses through their academic advisors, get their vaccination shots, certificate and start to look at incoming flights to China.
The snippet of the email was posted on Twitter and was focused on telling the students to complete a 21 day quarantine period before the end of January. The quarantine period would be carried in two phases. During the first 14 days, the students will be quarantined in a government-facilitated venue. The last 7 days would be of self-quarantine in other designated places. Unfortunately, the students are expected to bear all the costs themselves. In addition, just like DKU, a specific date for international students to return was not mentioned in the email.
However, no one can say for sure if the emails set out would truly be implemented or not. Mainly because no other universities of China have given any sort of statement for the international student return. This is huge because no official announcement has been made on when China will open its borders and air travel for international students.
Despite the tremendous efforts such as the noise made on social media and a campaign initiated by the China International Student Union on 1st November 2021, there has been no official date given when international students will be allowed to travel into Chain to study again. It has been two long years for the majority of the enrolled students.
This has greatly disrupted the study of multiple students. Especially medical MBBS students and researchers who can not take online classes to receive their degree. Hence, their classes have been completely suspended.
Though, international students may expect some official words after the Winter Olympics have taken place.
The expected timeframe of the Chinese winter games is between the 4th of February to the 20th of February 2022. The games will be followed by Winter Paralympics from 4th March to 13th March 2022. It is expected that the Chinese Entry and Exit Bureau will notify international students about their return to Chinese Universities from February 2022.
In conclusion, the best guess one can have is, international students may be cleared for traveling back into China in March or the start of April.
This is a developing story and therefore we will keep updating this page as we receive new updates on the topic.