It is impossible for European students enrolled in a Chinese university to take their courses face-to-face. In the name of the “zero Covid” policy, all their visa applications are refused even though students from Russia, Pakistan, Nicaragua or Sri Lanka – countries that are friends of China – have received the permission to join their campuses in China.
“Even students from countries that have strained relations with China, such as South Korea or India, have been able to return. European students, for their part, still do not see the end of the tunnel”, report it South China Morning Post.
“Our whole future is at stake”
For the past two years, Patrick, a young Irishman enrolled at Shanxi Medical University, has been waking up every night a little before 3 a.m. to take distance learning courses. Cécile, a French student, is going through the same situation to continue her studies at Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Iris, a Greek student enrolled at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou – one of the country’s most prestigious universities, nicknamed “the Chinese Cambridge” – explains that it is impossible under these conditions to participate in practical work, which is essential in the context of medical studies.
Students enrolled in a Chinese university are not the only ones who are frustrated. Those who were to participate in an exchange program experience the same galley. A Spanish student enrolled at the London School of Economics (LSE) explains that she is unable to complete her first year of a master’s degree in international affairs in Beijing, as her course provides. She is asked to pay 14,000 euros for a year of studies there, although she has no guarantee that she will soon be able to reach the Chinese capital.
“Our whole future is at stake, explains Patrick. If China doesn’t call us back in the next few months, I’ll probably give up. In the meantime, I’m paying full tuition while I’m not using any equipment and haven’t even set foot in college…I’m probably going to drop out of school and all my dreams will be broken.”
Depressions and sleep disorders at the key
By preventing Western students from entering the country, China is arguably “losing its best ambassadors”, laments a diplomat. For her part, the psychiatrist Magali Briane entrusts to the South China Morning Post that this situation is not without effects on their mental health. Some show symptoms of anxiety and depression. Many suffer from sleep disturbances related to having to attend distance learning courses in the middle of the night and an inability to “create or maintain the essential links with those around them” due to the jet lag imposed on them on a daily basis.