Those holding valid visas and residence permits from Bangladesh, Belgium, Ethiopia, France, India, Italy, The Philippines, Russia, the UK and the Ukraine can no longer enter China.
Students themselves have not been granted access to the country since late March and are growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of communication and updates they are receiving.
“If China does not want us to come back they should announce it,” one student told The PIE News.
“If China does not want us to come back they should announce it”
“But they are not saying anything about students.”
Government spokesperson Wang Wenbin called the new measures “reasonable” and “in line with international practices” during a recent press conference.
China appears to have Covid-19 under control in most regions, with those in major cities reporting that even pub trivia nights are back on the weekly roster of events, which some put down to measures such as those at the border.
However students doing degrees in subjects like medicine have been particularly critical of China’s approach, arguing that online study is pointless for them as it will not be accepted when they apply to work in the field back home.
Another student called the process “mentally draining”. Frustration also stems from a sense that the treatment of Chinese international students going abroad and international students heading to China is very different.
They said that while some universities abroad are getting charter flights organised especially for Chinese students, their institutions don’t reply to messages.
The PIE contacted more than 40 locally-run universities in China but none agreed to an interview. One industry insider however was willing to offer their thoughts on the condition of anonymity.
“In some institutions the international students are sort of herded into a corner and left”
“In some institutions the international students are sort of herded into a corner and left. They deal with them almost as if they are rabid,” they said, adding they had heard of students looking to transfer to institutions with better reputations.
“Those universities which are more used to working with international students have better networks in place. They’ve got partnerships that are progressive and forward thinking, and they are doing things to help support their students.”
However some add that border openings are a moot point as in practical terms China’s strict entry requirements are “almost impossible” to comply with.
Aside from severely limited flights that can be cancelled at short notice, people are now required to have two Covid-19 tests no more than 48 hours before their flight. Going to China also requires test results from any country a passenger goes through, as well as 14 days of self-funded quarantine.
As such, it’s not just international students that can’t get back.
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou said that while 70% of its international students are studying from abroad, so were some of its Chinese students.
They were on study abroad in places like Europe earlier this year and have been unable to get back since.
“We try and make sure that every student has live tutorials or live seminars at least once in the week,” explained Stuart Perrin, associate principal of the XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang).
“There are certain issues. For countries with internet access issues, trying to download long videos doesn’t work so we have to break everything up into blocks,” he continued.
“But we are dealing with it in a number of ways, very similar to the way that some other universities are dealing with things.”