What Now? Students Return From Ukraine With A Hazy Future
Searching for options
"We don't know when this war will end. I've managed to escape Ukraine and I'm back home in Kerala now, but I'm unsure about the future of my education, says Chris Koshy Roy, a fourth-year MBBS student at Lviv National Medical University.
Chris was part of a sixty-member group of students from Tamil Nadu and Kerala who were stranded at the Ukraine-Poland border for five days. After a long ordeal as they were not allowed to cross the border, they decided to head to the Romania border, where Indian officials helped accommodate them in a monastery and fly them back home to India.
Chris and his classmates have now received information from the university that all arrangements have been made to continue classes online. They have even assured that physical classes will resume once the hostility ends. But like Chris, more than 15,000 Indian students will now be wary of returning to Ukraine, especially since India abstained from voting at the UN resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The other options would be for them to continue their education in neighbouring countries, as the medical education system in India is very different from that in Europe. However, according to the provisions in the National Medical Commission, if a student transfers from one university to another, the degree would be considered invalid, and such students would not be eligible to apply for the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam, which is required to practise medicine in India.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to the Prime Minister urging him to consider accommodating the students in Indian medical colleges. The Indian Medical Association had also written to the Prime Minister recommending that the students be allowed to continue the remainder of their MBBS course in Indian medical colleges through an 'appropriate disbursed distribution'.
The Association also asked for a special provision under the National Medical Commission (NMC) to consider the transfer of these students to medical colleges in other countries valid. In doing so, the students would be eligible to apply for the NEET-FMG (Foreign Medical Graduates' Exam).
Stalin, in his letter, requested the Prime Minister to take up the issue with the National Medical Commission and find a way for Indian students who have returned from Ukraine to continue their education in Indian medical colleges. He also said that as uncertainties would continue even after the war ends, it would not be possible for the students to return to their universities. He added that the TN government would provide all the support necessary in this regard.
According to Jacintha Lazarus, Commissioner of Rehabilitation and Welfare of Non-Resident Tamils, State Nodal Officer for facilitating the evacuation of stranded Tamils in Ukraine, so far, about 1,400 students from Tamil Nadu have safely reached home through the joint efforts of the state and central governments. About 500 more students from the state are still stranded in Sumy, Ukraine and efforts are on to evacuate them as well.
Meanwhile, there have also been reports of South Indian students being discriminated against. "Some of our students had claimed that they were not allowed to board the bus, but the veracity of these claims has not been confirmed," Jacintha added.