Hundreds of thousands of foreign students – many from developing countries – who left China in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic are facing hardship and uncertainty, with no word from Beijing as to when they will be able to return to their universities.
For Muhammad – not his real name – it was a dream come true when he won a full scholarship with a monthly stipend to study both his masters and PhD in China. Now, he says, he just wants to wake up from the nightmare and he wishes he had chosen to study somewhere else.
Muhammad returned to his home in northeast Africa in February, when embassies evacuated overseas students during the world’s first outbreak of Covid-19 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. He was among the legions of foreign students who left China at that time, and whose futures have been stranded ever since.