Kung fu, paper decoration and calligraphy – those are the classes management student Prakash Nepali is attending these days in this southern Chinese city. The reason: He is interested in computer programming, but he cannot do hands on practice because there is only one PC in the lab and the professor uses it for his powerpoint for the class.
Nepali has been studying logistics management with a full scholarship in China’s Yunnan University since 2017 and gets $360 a month from the Chinese government to cover his living expenses. It sounds like a good deal, but Nepali says he would not recommend it to others back home.
As bilateral trade and investment increase, there is growing interest among Nepali students to study in China. In 2017 alone, more than 6,400 Nepalis flew over the Himalaya to the north for their higher studies. They were attracted by the chance to learn Mandarin as well as government scholarships. But not everything is what they expected.
“I’ve forgotten why I came here. I got into a study program not relevant to the trade business that I want to be involved in when I get back,” Nepali told us.
Bishwash Shrestha and Nepali have been friends since high school. They applied for the same college together by paying $4,000 to an education agent. They are the only two Nepalis in the Silk Road Program of Yunnan University.
“Everything is ok here, except we end up having to teach ourselves. The level of instruction is not what we expected,” says Shrestha. Nepali had 11 compulsory courses in his first semester last year. Besides main courses such as management, microeconomics, mathematics, he had to take eight other intensive courses introducing Chinese language, art, and policy.
All the subjects are taught in English, but the two say the Chinese professor’s English is not even as good as theirs and it is difficult to understand. They say the syllabus lacks focus, and even their teachers in Nepal had better motivation. Another Nepali student, Pawan Gole, however, has no complaints. He is satisfied with his studies and in two years, speaks Mandarin fluently. He says, “Of course, you have to work hard, if I don’t I would lose face in front of my classmates who work hard.”