By KJM Varma
India has apprised China of the recent stringent regulations issued by the National Medical Commission (NMC) for Indian students studying in Chinese medical colleges to obtain permission to practice back home and asked authorities here to ensure that the students are qualified to comply with the new rules.
In September last, the Indian Embassy in Beijing issued a detailed advisory for prospective Indian students wanting to study medicine in China cautioning them of pitfalls, including poor pass percentage, mandatory learning of Putonghua, and stringent norms to qualify to practice in India.
According to official estimates, over 23,000 Indian students are currently enrolled in Chinese universities. A vast majority of them were studying medicine.
After over two years of COVID visa restrictions, China recently started issuing visas to select a number of students to return.
According to informed sources, over 350 students have returned to rejoin their colleges. 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 enrolment for new students from India and abroad.
In this background, the Indian Embassy here issued a comprehensive advisory on September 10, highlighting stringent norms they face to qualify for practice in India, which included obtaining a license to practice in China.
The Embassy in its press release on Monday said it has apprised the Chinese authorities concerned and medical colleges with a request that they ensure that all Indian students coming to China for clinical medicine programmes are educated, trained, and facilitated so that they can fulfill the above requirements of NMC.
“Any student, who joins a clinical medicine programme in China after November 2021 and fails to obtain a license to practice as a medical doctor in China, will be rendered ineligible to appear for Foreign Medical Graduate Examination”, it said.
The Embassy continues to receive queries from prospective Indian students as well as their parents regarding eligibility for Indian students who are pursuing clinical medicine programmes in China to appear in the qualifying examination conducted by NMC, it said.
The students and their parents are requested to see the Gazette Notification dated November 18, 2021 by the NMC, it said.
“It has unambiguously stated in Clause 4(b) that foreign medical students must be “registered with the respective professional regulatory body or otherwise, competent to grant a license to practice medicine in their respective jurisdiction of the country in which the medical degree is awarded and at par with the license to practice medicine given to a citizen of that country,” it said.
The Embassy has also approached relevant Chinese authorities to confirm that Indian students can work in Chinese hospitals in a capacity such as “assistant doctors”.
Another related query was whether Indian students can work in Chinese hospitals in a capacity such as “assistant doctors” after completing their medical education in China but fail to obtain a medical practitioner license in China so as to enable them to earn a living and payback their education loans.
In its advisory issued in September, the Indian Embassy said only 16 per cent of the Indian students passed between 2015-21 to qualify to practice in India.
The study shows that only 6,387 out of 40,417 students, who appeared in FMG (Foreign Medical Graduate) Examination of the Medical Council of India, (MCI) from 2015 to 2021 have cleared the test, it said.
On the costs, it said the fee structure is different for different universities and advised students to check from the university directly before admission.
The advisory has 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 the 45 colleges in China. “The Chinese government has “clearly mentioned in their official communication that foreign students can only join medical programmes in 45 universities in the English language,” it said.
After completion of the internship, students have to clear the Chinese Medical qualification examination and obtain a physician qualification certificate to practice in China, it said.
It is important to clear the qualification exam to practice in India as the “NMC regulations dated November 18, 2021 state that any prospective student who seeks medical education abroad should necessarily have a license to practice in the country of a graduate after completion of his/her clinical medicine programme before he/she can appear for FMG examination in India”, it said.
Also, 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 entrance examination for undergraduate medical education in India, as a prerequisite to pursue medical education abroad, the advisory said.
“[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 Foreign Medical Graduates Exam (FMGE)”, it said.
“Moreover, due to the ‘Dynamic Zero Covid Policy’ of China, there are various restrictions and quarantine norms in China, which varies from city to city and are very strict and demand full compliance without exception. Moreover, these regulations are updated regularly.
Therefore, Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities are advised to take note of the latest regulations of the place of travel and make appropriate arrangements”, the September advisory said.