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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Students’ career at stake

The educational career of about 28,000 Pakistani students has been at stake as they are unable to return to China. It has been more than one year since they have been stranded in Pakistan and are losing hope of completing their qualifications in China as the latter had suspended the entry of foreigners in March 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19. Mostly students are pursuing medical and engineering degrees, which have quite a worth in Pakistan. So, it is not only the loss at the individual level but at the national level too. Moreover, students are worried about losing their investment in their degrees and are dissatisfied with the lack of communication and guidance they are receiving from the Chinese government. Since January 2021, groups of international students have been petitioning the Chinese government to allow them to return to China, but by all accounts, the Chinese government has not provided clear guidance on when borders might reopen to them or what they can do in the meantime to progress properly in their degrees.

Despite government’s assurance that it has been in touch with Beijing, nothing tangible has been done so far. The government needs to take prompt action as years of study and thousands of dollars of young education aspirants are going to waste, while the online degrees are not acceptable in Pakistan. Frustration among students is increasing as they have exhausted all resources and their issue is not being dealt with sincerity. The government of China needs to show some leniency towards these students in the aftermath of the pandemic. Although the issue of COVID-19 pandemic is serious, yet there are certain conditions like proper vaccination and quarantining of visitors that can hamper the spread. Separate chartered flights can be allowed for these students who have become the victim of ill-effects of this global pandemic. China’s increasing higher education opportunities, a large number of institutions in top global rankings, relative affordability of degrees, abundant scholarships, and geo-political power are some of the factors that allure a large number of foreign students from Asia and Africa to get registered in Chinese educational programmes over those offered by traditional Western states in recent years. But the travel ban and international students’ petitions and anger at being ignored are likely to inflict serious damage to the Chinese education brand in the very markets it has worked so hard to cultivate.



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