Facing the upcoming long summer vacation, tens of thousands of Chinese students studying in the UK are probably scratching their heads about whether they should return to their home countries to visit relatives. Despite China‘s loosening of entry policies, for many of them, the road back home is still very difficult.
According to information on the website of the National Health Commission of China on June 28, the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council of China released the ninth edition of the New Coronary Pneumonia Prevention and Control Plan, which changed the isolation and control time of close contacts and inbound personnel from “14-day centralized isolation for medical observation + “7-day home health monitoring” was adjusted to “7-day centralized isolation medical observation + 3-day home health monitoring”.
Since the global epidemic of the new crown epidemic, the road to “return to China” for overseas Chinese, including a large number of international students, can be said to be even more difficult – from the flight interruption to the airport stranded, there are countless difficulties.
Especially for those young international students, that is, underage “little international students” as the saying goes, it is even more distressing that it is difficult to go home to see their parents. According to information released by the British Boarding Association BSA, there are currently about 6,000 or 7,000 young Chinese students studying in the UK. Minors are also subject to the same quarantine policy.
BBC Chinese recently interviewed Ms. Sunny, the head of the Shengqiao Guardianship Service (OPDS), which focuses on the guardianship of young international students. I would like to have a better understanding of the difficulty of returning home for international students from front-line practitioners.
According to reports, 90 percent of the students under the supervision of the company interviewed are from China.
Difficulty for international students to return home
Before the epidemic, elementary-aged students under the supervision of the company basically returned to China to visit relatives during the three major holidays (Christmas, Easter and summer vacations) every year, and some students even went back during the mid-term holidays. Since the pandemic, the situation has become extremely difficult.
“We also vaccinated parents at the beginning of this school year, which is to be prepared for a year when their children won’t be able to go home,” Sunny said.
As China‘s epidemic prevention and entry policies change frequently, as a guardianship institution with a history of more than ten years, it is also necessary to have sufficient knowledge of various policies at any time, and to keep in touch with consulates and testing institutions in order to help students successfully obtain the “green code” “.
According to the latest requirements issued by the Chinese Embassy in the UK in May, no matter whether the vaccine is vaccinated or not and what kind of vaccine is vaccinated, only a double nucleic acid test within 48 hours is required. In addition, people with a history of infection do not need to provide X-rays or CT photos for pre-examination. However, the statement also said that personnel going to China must undergo two PCR nucleic acid tests within 48 hours before departure, and at least one of the samples should be taken within 12 hours before departure.
It may sound less demanding than it used to be, but the students are still going through a lot on their way home.
Sunny said: “Now the green code test results are required within 12 hours. Some students are on the morning flight, which means they need to go for the test the night before. For safety, they need to be followed by a guardian teacher. And now We usually recommend that students get to the airport three or four hours early, so after the test and the early arrival at the airport, students can’t sleep all night, and the journey is so long, even if these don’t change their desire to go home.”
long way home
According to the person who supervises the students, in addition to the long-term lack of sleep and anxiety during the journey, there are many factors that sometimes have a great impact on the physical and mental health of students.
The problem faced by some students is that when they leave the UK, they go to the test site designated by the embassy and get a green code, but they get a red code when they go to the designated test site in the transit city, which makes students feel very disappointed and depressed.
For example, a student Zhang, who belongs to the Shengqiao Guardianship Service, successfully obtained a health code when he was in London, but turned into a red code when he was tested at the transit station in Copenhagen. Coincidentally, another student surnamed Liu had been quarantined at the hotel there for ten days because he had a red code in Frankfurt, and he had just returned to China successfully two days ago.
A parent in Jiangsu said that the child did not make it in early June. The fake sun returned to London in the Netherlands and moved to Hong Kong. The children have been left in the shadows, and they did not pass the exam. It’s really hard to say, but fortunately I bought a ticket to Hong Kong.
With so many difficulties, the yearning of parents and children continues unabated.
So in such a situation, as a guardian agency, it is also necessary to communicate with students frequently and give them comfort.
International students at boarding schools usually go to host families during the mid-term holidays, but they also need to live with host families due to the three major annual holidays. Shengqiao Guardianship Service, which is accredited by the Boarding Schools Association (BSA), said that some students also communicate well with the aunts of their host families. But even then, this is not home. What students want is to go home.
They want their parents back home too. Although the current air ticket price for returning to China is almost astronomical, and the isolation after returning to China also requires a lot of expenses, but as long as there are flight arrangements, no matter how expensive the air ticket is, I hope that the children can come back for vacation.
Ms. Yang, who is currently in Chengdu, said that her daughter has left to study in the UK for more than three years, and it has been really difficult in the past two years. The flight back to China is very expensive, and I have to be quarantined, but it’s worth it to see my child for a few weeks.
Another parent who came to visit relatives in the UK said, “It was too hard for me to buy tickets at the time, and my visa expired. When I went back to London, I really wanted not to leave, but I didn’t want to leave any regrets for my child. I wanted him to know. I can definitely go home.”
At present, returning from the UK usually requires a diversion to Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Paris. It was previously stated on the Internet that China Eastern Airlines may resume direct flights on July 8, which made many people excited. But the reporter saw that China Eastern Airlines website did not confirm this.
However, Sunny said that the route to return to China through Hong Kong has now been cleared, and many students will return to China in this way during the summer vacation. If the quarantine period for returning to China is now shorter, it will give students more time to spend with their families.
Enthusiasm for studying abroad
Although it is so difficult for international students to return to China, according to industry insiders, most parents still hope that their children will continue to study in the UK.
Sonny, head of guardianship at Shengqiao, said that although a few parents decided to let their children go home and no longer stay in the UK, most parents still decided to continue because most of these students have been studying in the UK for a period of time and are very comfortable with studying and living here. , and parents and students are also very recognized for studying in the UK.
This statement is also confirmed by the British Boarding Association’s 2021 White Paper on Studying in the UK at a Young Age. The report shows that the current epidemic has not stopped Chinese parents from continuing to send their children to study in the UK. Only 10% of parents indicated that they would postpone their schooling, and less than 2% indicated that they would completely abandon their study abroad plans. Coupled with the good performance and effective measures of British boarding schools during the epidemic, 85% of students and parents are satisfied. As the epidemic improves, the number of places to enter private schools will become more intense in the future.
The British Boarding Association’s survey also confirmed that Chinese parents have three most important considerations when choosing a country for their children to study in. First is the quality of education, followed by the country’s social safety, with the UK scoring the highest on both counts; another factor of particular concern to parents is the country’s popularity with international students. Tuition and living expenses are far less important than some other factors.
Of course, continuing to study abroad also means that a large number of Chinese students, including young international students, will continue to face the long journey back to China several times a year at least for a period of time in the future.