China has become a new destination of choice for India's aspiring doctors.
The number of Indian medical students in colleges and universities in China has risen sharply in recent years, according to Jasminder Kasturia, first secretary of the Indian Embassy to China.
"There are more than 6,000 Indian students studying in China now, mainly for medical science," Kasturia said.
More than 400 Indian students are currently studying for a bachelor's degree of medicine at Tianjin Medical University (TMU) and the number of applicants from India far exceeds the available places at the university, said Professor Guo Fenglin, director of the university's International Exchange Department.
The average tuition for a Chinese medical university is between $2,000 and $3000 a year, plus another $1,000 to cover board and lodging, which is only one fourth of that in India. "This is much more affordable, in India, all the places are taken up even before the exams, so even though we study hard we can't get a place over there," said Manpreet Kaur, a second-year medical student at TMU.
The attraction is not just lower fees but simple admission procedures. Students who score marks of 70 per cent and above in the Indian intermediate exam, similar to the college entrance exam in China, are being admitted to Chinese universities.
The Chinese government has opened its medical education to the world and made it easier for budding Indian doctors to secure visas.
"Since 2004 more than 20 Chinese universities have begun to aggressively recruit students from India, so that for hundreds of aspiring Indian doctors unable to either find or afford a place at medical colleges back home, China has become the Mecca," the Indian national newspaper The Hindu said in a recent report.
Vishnu Prakash, consul general of India in Shanghai, thinks "this is a win-win situation for all." "I encourage the exchanges between India and China, especially the exchange of human resources, and I hope that each of the Indians away from home can serve as a cultural emissary for Indian culture," Prakash was quoted as saying by Guangzhou Daily.
Whether the medical education provided by China to Indian students is successful or not depends on how many Indian graduates ultimately pass the India Medical Council test.
"If the pass rate is more than 60 percent, then our education is successful," said Miao Jingcheng, deputy dean of the School of Medicine under the Suzhou University in East China's Jiangsu Province.
"Our school has high level scientific research and teaching ability which can meet the education needs of Indian students," Miao said confidently.
(China Daily January 15, 2008)