Students from Malawi awarded Chinese government bursaries to study courses such as medicine and chemical engineering say they found themselves in a foreign language nightmare, their grades were vastly inflated, and they were subjected to indoctrination.
Zipporah Bvalani hoped that when she got home to Malawi after studying in China under a highly-regarded Chinese government bursary scheme she would immediately begin working as a chemical engineer.
Instead, the 23-year-old from Blantyre said she had to start studying from scratch once she got home, as she had learnt very little and acquired few engineering skills during her one-and-a-half-year stint at the Taiyuan University of Technology in Shanxi province.
She also said the Chinese university authorities inflated her marks to make them look better than they were, and that many beneficiaries were children of Malawi's political elite.
Zipporah Bvalani says all her early preparations were useless. (Image supplied)
These complaints were echoed by other graduates of the bursary programme who spoke to amaBhungane.
The main stumbling block, Bvalani said, was language.
"We had just one year's preparation for lectures in Chinese," she said. "Sadly, all my early preparation was almost useless when I began engineering lessons."