India issues advisory, lists ‘risks’ linked to Chinese medical schools

India has advised prospective students planning to study clinical medicine in Chinese universities to be aware of “common” challenges of enrolling here including the quality of teaching in English, lack of gaining practical experience and the low percentage of graduates who pass the mandatory Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE) after returning to India.

The cautionary points were included in an advisory released by the Indian embassy in Beijing on Friday in response to queries from Indian students and families about studying MBBS in China.

The advisory was issued as thousands of Indians studying in Chinese medical colleges are currently stuck at home for over two and half years due to Beijing’s Covid-19-related restrictions on returning to China.

According to official estimates, over 23,000 Indian students are currently enrolled in various Chinese universities, a vast majority of them medical students. The numbers had gone up in the past decade until the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

As per the new advisory, fresh applicants at the very beginning are advised to determine whether the university they are applying to is included in the list of 45 institutions — officially announced by the Chinese education ministry in 2019 — which teach in English and are authorised to admit international students.

“They (applicants) cannot join for studying clinical medicine programme in China which is offered in Chinese language,” the advisory said.

“They (Chinese education ministry) have also clearly stated that any university offering clinical medicine programmes in bilingual mode (English and Chinese language) is strictly forbidden,” the advisory said.

The applicants have to be alert about several other aspects including “…duration of the course (as it varies university to university), curriculum being offered, language of instructions, mode of education (online or offline), fee structure, visa requirements etc., before proceeding to China”.

Joining a Chinese university this year has been further complicated by China’s zero-Covid policy.

“Moreover, due to the ‘Dynamic Zero Covid Policy’ of China, there are various restrictions and quarantine norms in China, which vary from city to city and are very strict and demand full compliance without exception. Moreover, these regulations are updated regularly,” the advisory noted.

The embassy note said among specific queries from applicants were questions about the quality of education offered at Chinese medical universities.

The response was detailed.

“The Embassy has received several feedback from the past students who have completed such programmes earlier. One of the most common challenge is the English language skills of Chinese teachers in these universities,” it said.

“Few students have also complained about lack of practical/clinical experience in terms of engaging with patients in certain universities.”

A matter of concern is the pass percentage of Indian students who have appeared for India’s National Medical Council FMGE after graduating from Chinese medical universities.

“Prospective students and their parents may also wish to look at the study conducted by the National Board of Examination of the pass percentage of students who had studied in various Chinese universities.”

“The study shows that only 6387 out of 40417 students who appeared in FMG Examination from 2015 to 2021 have cleared it.”

“Here, the pass percentage of Indian students who have studied clinical medicine programme in China in that period in these 45 universities was only 16%. The prospective students and parents may please note this fact while deciding on seeking admission in Chinese universities for clinical medicine programme,” the Indian advisory said.

The Indian embassy note, however, emphasised neither the embassy nor the National Medical Council has done any “any ranking or evaluation of the quality of education offered by these (Chinese) universities to foreign students.”

Another point to be remembered by applicants is that while they will be taught the course in English, learning Chinese is mandatory.

“As per regulations of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, the courses are offered in English language. However, learning the Chinese language is mandatory for clinical sessions. Hence, every student will also need to learn Chinese language up to HSK-4 level (designed to assess a candidate’s Chinese-using ability). Any student who does not clear this minimum Chinese language skill will not be awarded a degree,” the advisory said.

The advisory said that Indian students who are interested in taking a medical qualification from China are required to clear the NEET-UG (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Under Graduate) exam, which is the entry examination for undergraduate medical education in India, as a prerequisite to pursue medical education abroad.

“Only those students who clear the NEET-UG for admission to undergraduate medical education in India will be eligible to appear for the screening test, namely, the FMGE”.


    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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