India has issued a detailed advisory for prospective students wanting to study medicine in China, cautioning them of the pitfalls, including poor pass percentage, mandatory learning of the official spoken language, and stringent norms to qualify to practice in India.

The advisory was issued as thousands of Indians studying in Chinese medical colleges are currently stuck at home for over two years due to Beijing’s Covid visa ban. According to official estimates, over 23,000 Indian students are currently enrolled in various Chinese universities, a vast majority being medical students.

China has recently started issuing visas to a selected number of students to return. However, most of them struggled to return as there are no direct flights and the two countries are still in talks to work out limited flight facilities keeping in view Beijing’s quarantine restrictions.

The Chinese medical colleges, meanwhile, began enrollment for new students from India and abroad.

Against this backdrop, the Indian Embassy in Beijing issued a comprehensive advisory on Thursday for students from India wanting to study medicine in China.

The advisory has the results of the studies, which outlined difficulties faced by Indian students in China and the stringent norms they face to qualify for practicing medicine in India.

Difficulties faced

A striking feature of the advisory is that only 16 per cent of the students passed the required test between 2015 and 2021 to qualify to practice in India. Only 6,387 out of 40,417 students who appeared in the FMG (Foreign Medical Graduate) Examination of the Medical Council of India (MCI) from 2015 to 2021 have cleared it.

The pass percentage of Indian students who have studied clinical medicine programmes in China in that period in 45 accredited universities was only 16 per cent, the advisory underlined.

“The prospective students and parents may please note this fact while deciding on seeking admission in Chinese universities for clinical medicine programme,” it said.

It said the fee structure is different for different universities and advised students to check from the university directly before taking admission.

The advisory listed 45 medical colleges designated by the Chinese government to provide medical degrees in five-year duration plus a one-year internship. Indian students are advised not to seek admission other than those 45 colleges.

The Chinese government has “clearly mentioned in their official communication that foreign students can only join medical programmes in 45 universities in English language”.

“They cannot join the clinical medicine programme in China which is offered in the Chinese language. They have also clearly stated that any university offering clinical medicine programmes in bilingual mode (English and Chinese language) is strictly forbidden,” the advisory said.

“However, learning the Chinese language is mandatory for clinical sessions. Hence, every student must also learn the Chinese language up to the HSK-4 level. Any student who does not clear this minimum Chinese language skill will not be awarded a degree,” it said.

The advisory also highlighted that Indian students studying medicine in China have to obtain a license to practice in the country where they obtained the degree.

After completion of the internship, students have to clear the Chinese Medical qualification examination and obtain a physician qualification certificate to practice in China, the advisory said.

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

Feedback on quality

“The Embassy has received several feedbacks from past students who have completed such programmes earlier. One of the most common challenges is the English language skills of Chinese teachers in these universities. Few students have also complained about lack of practical/clinical experience in terms of engaging with patients in certain universities," the advisory said.

It also advised the students who are planning to enrol in any university in China to ascertain whether the university is on the list of 45 universities, the duration of the course (as it varies from university to university), curriculum being offered, language of instructions, mode of education (online or offline), fee structure and visa requirements before proceeding to China.

The advisory noted that China’s Ministry of Education has not published any separate ranking of various Chinese universities which offer clinical medicine programmes.

However, the embassy prepared a table per the pass percentage of Indian students in the FMG Examination, which is provided in the advisory.