China’s Border to Remain Closed to students until 2022 – Rumour of Fact?

There have been various reports that China’s border will be closed for another year. This was reported in the wall street journal in May based on a “leak” by people “familiar with the matter” here.

But Is this true? We look into it to give more information for international students.


Note that recently in Guangzhou there has been a number of imported cases which is based on the highly transmissible Indian variant which has seen mass testing and lockdowns to contain it. (more info here).

China has administered almost 1 billion vaccinations which covers around 40% of the population. However China has been concerned about a rise of potentially imported cases by welcoming hundreds of thousands of international students back to China.

Currently there are approximately 90% of the 492,000 students currently located outside of China since spring festival 2020 when the coronavirus first broke out.

Based on what has happened before, when Korean students have been able to return first, it is likely that students would be able to return in phases, based on those with higher vaccination rates and lower number of cases to return first. However the rise in the number of cases around the world has added more caution to the plan.

With China’s enormous 1.4 billion population, and a number of sensitive events, it is important to protect the population from the threat of imported cases.

China’s more cautious dealing of the situation compared to other countries has been effective in almost completely eradicating the virus. After having such a serious original outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020, there are now almost no local cases in China. This is one of the reasons many international want to return to China.

On the other hand, many international students who have chosen China as their country of study have told us that they feel abandoned. It is especially difficult for students who are young and eager for new experiences, and meeting people, and need to have practical experience as part of their program such as for medical programs. There are campaigns with the hashtag #takeusbacktochina and students have been writing to their local embassies to seek help to find ways to return to China. All of this has been to no avail.

What will happen?

It is actually not possible to verify the information about when exactly students can come back. We believe that actually nobody knows this information because the COVID situation is evolving. We know from sources “familiar with the matter” and have been told that there is no plan for international students to come back for “quite some time” and probably not in 2021. 

How to stay updated?

If you are an international students and looking to go back to China, the best information would be from here which is an English language website based in Beijing. They also have wechat groups where they keep updated.  You can also register on China Admissions platform and follow their youtube channel.  If you are a student already enrolled in China your university will also give you updates. You can also ask your friends about wechat groups with other students from your country.

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