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China allows public-sponsored students to depart for overseas schools one year later due to pandemic

Photo: cnsphoto

The Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) announced that Chinese students who are approved to receive public funding to study overseas before December 31, 2020 can apply for a one-year extension and depart later than the required time as the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging around the world.

Students reached by the Global Times on Tuesday said the policy is good news for them, noting that in addition to the pandemic, international political conflicts and anti-China sentiment in some foreign countries are obstacles for their overseas study.

The CSC, a non-profit organization administered by the Chinese Ministry of Education, published the announcement on Monday. The CSC provides support for international academic exchanges with China. 

According to the announcement, the students can go overseas to study up to December 31, 2021 after they apply for an extension for the scholarship.

The new policy came as the coronavirus has surged again in many foreign countries and regions, especially Europe and the US.

More than 10 million cases have been reported in Europe, where the three countries reporting the most cases are Russia (1,636,781), France (1,413,915) and Spain (1,185,678).

The US recorded 81,493 new cases on Monday, lifting the total number to more than 9.2 million according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Zhang Bo, a Chinese PhD student who obtained the CSC scholarship in 2019 and planned to study at the Monash University in Australia this year is one of the students stranded in China.

Zhang told the Global Times on Tuesday that after a long unnecessary visa delay of more than half a year by the Australian authorities, he got his visa in February. However, due to the pandemic, he had no choice but to start an online course the Monash University offered.

Although the course began, he could not obtain a scholarship from the CSC as the scholarship required students to register with a Chinese embassy abroad first. The new policy means students can postpone their study abroad and still receive the sponsorship. 

However, students’ concerns are not only about money.

Shen Yahui, another Chinese student, decided to give up his PhD offer from The University of Melbourne and the CSC sponsorship, citing both the pandemic and the anti-Chinese atmosphere in Australia.

Another Chinese student who is planning to study in the US, who required anonymity, told the Global Times that he had got the CSC sponsorship and decided to wait for the result of the US presidential election before going to the country.

“We’re still waiting for the international situation to become more certain,” he said.

He noted that many of the CSC-sponsored PhD students to the US this year are waiting for the election, and many Chinese universities have decided not to send students out temporarily, due to the pandemic.

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