Vietnamese students rejoice over China's reopening scheme

By Le Thu, Binh Minh   December 29, 2022 | 05:24 am PT
Vietnamese students rejoice over China's reopening scheme
International students at Peking University in China's Beijing, November 2022. Photo courtesy of Peking University
Vietnamese students in China are thrilled their northern neighbor plans to relax its Covid lockdown policies next January.

Lang Quang Du, 27, who graduated from China’s Nanhua University in 2020, was relieved to hear that China is finally loosening its Covid-19 restrictions in 2023.

He is currently enrolled in Chinese-language studies at the Beijing Language and Culture University, but he’s been studying online in Vietnam for the last three years.

Du said studying online is not only ineffective for this particular field of study, but is also harmful for the eyes. But now that Vietnamese students are able to enter without the crippling fees of around VND50 million ($2,116) for 5-14 days of centralized quarantine, things are getting better.

A few months earlier, several universities had issued relevant papers to support students to fly to China for their studies. However, many students hesitated to do so upon seeing the fees required to go through the compulsory quarantine period.

Nguyen Hong Ngoc, 30, from Da Nang, found herself in a similar situation. The cost of her flight ticket to Guiyang City and fees for the quarantine amounted to around VND40 million, which is a large fee that made her unable to pursue her post-graduate degree at the Guizhou University.

Loc Van Dan, 23, a student at the Central University of Finance and Economics, has just returned to China in October following a long period of online studying. Dan said flight tickets from Vietnam to China cost around VND7-8 million lately, which is a lot cheaper than the prices from a few months earlier.

However, in order to enter China at the moment, the cost of compulsory quarantine is still high. Dan once had to pay VND50 million to go through three quarantine periods in both China and Vietnam over a course of 27 days.

"Some Vietnamese students at my school who came by this month also spent around VND50 million. They had to be quarantined for 5 days at the airport, then another 7 days at the school," said Dan, adding that a group of Vietnamese students had to take their final exams at the quarantine facility.

Officials at certain hospitals and medical agencies in China said they had received announcements from the National Health Commission on December 26, requesting for the preparation of downgrading the risk level of Covid-19 starting January 8 next year, the South China Morning Post reported.

Over the past three years, students from all over the world, including Vietnam, have chosen to either suspend or drop plans to study abroad in China, said Tran Ngoc Duy, director of the Riba International Cooperation company, which provides consultancy on studying abroad in China.

Nguyen Quoc Tu, chairman of the management board of QT Education, said that China scrapping mandatory quarantine for entrants, as well as the fact that examination for the HSK has been resumed in Vietnam, means many people would be able to apply for scholarships to China in 2023.

Tu said schools would continue to conduct online classes until the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, so students wouldn't need to worry so much about preparing things early.

"Universities in China usually allow international students to enter the country as the new school year begins, around March 2023," Tu said.

For his part, Du has already planned to leave for China after Tet ends in late January. His trip, using trains and buses, would take around VND5-7 million. If he resorts to flying, the trip would cost around VND10-20 million.

Ngoc meanwhile would come to China in September next year. She said she hopes prices would have dropped by that time, even to pre-pandemic levels. She also said that requirements regarding Covid-19 checks have also been loosened more than before.

"Even Chinese students with Covid-19 would not be imposed with travel restrictions. My school has entered winter break, so all the studying and teaching would stop until March 2023," Ngoc said, adding that she would try to find some gigs for extra cash during the wait.

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