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02 SEPT 2022
The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, Chinese authorities appear to be preparing for the return of large numbers of international students. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!
In the last two years, China has almost completely closed its borders to international students. Now it appears that China is preparing to welcome international students back in large numbers.
On August 11, Air China resumed flights between Beijing and London, and shortly after, other local airlines began flying from Shanghai and Guangzhou. Direct flights between Beijing and Manchester are also expected to resume soon.
“Welcome news! International students can now return to China to resume their studies,” wrote Ma Hui, China’s ambassador to Cuba, in a recent post on Twitter. The announcement comes as China prepares to ease its COVID-19 restrictions on foreign tourists after 2 and half years.
Education analysts have been predicting a steady increase in international students to China for months. While some overseas students returned in July, these have been exceptions rather than the norm.
Nonetheless, Beijing's latest official messages signal its readiness for the mass return of international students.
“Since the onset of Covid-19, China has responded by following the dynamic zero-Covid policy and working to prevent imported cases and domestic resurgence of the virus,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced on August 19.
“With a science-based and prudent approach, we have improved visa and other policies to better facilitate cross-border travel and exchanges and cooperation with other countries – we welcome the return of international students to China to resume their studies,” he continued.
Roughly two dozen countries, mostly in Asia, had received permission for their students to apply for a Chinese X1 study visa by the end of August.
Chinese officials have also contacted students across Africa. “China is ready to overcome difficulties caused by the pandemic and help African students who previously studied in the country to return,” the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Ethiopia announced in a statement.
Progress will, however, take some time, since Wang Wenbin did not provide a definitive timeline for students' reentry during his press conferences; much of the information about the reopening of China’s borders is gathered via Twitter and embassy websites.
During an interview with The PIE News, China International Student Union's representative stated that students seeking to apply for visas now face “new hurdles.”
“We have issues now such as flight availability and cost as well as quarantine. Some airlines require five days quarantine before departure and also some schools are planning online classes until next year, so for students there may not be enough of a reason to go back yet,” the representative commented.
It is clear that the country is keen to regain its international reputation as a study destination despite these ongoing issues. With the restart of UK-China flights, Cathay Pacific has also updated their website with flights to China, which is great news for students across Asia hoping to return to China for their studies.