THOUSANDS of Indian medical students were forced to return from Ukraine without completing their education after Russia launched its military offensive against its western neighbour in late February 2022. With no signs of the conflict ending, their dreams, aspirations and hopes have been shattered as they contemplate their future and career.
A group of Ukraine-returned students have formed a body to protest ‘silently’ for their future. MBBS student Pulkit Pareek, who returned from Ukraine in early March, founded the India-Ukraine Student Front (IUSF). The IUSF WhatsApp and Telegram groups have around 6,500 students as members.
“We have also reached out to students union presidents and leaders of the youth wing of Congress, some student leaders and representatives of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and we have also met Central ministers to raise our issues,” he claimed.
Another student Nirdesh Dosi from Rajasthan stated that their union is focused on three demands- firstly, absorption of Ukraine returned students in Indian medical colleges or if that is not possible then get their certificates from the respective Ukrainian colleges with the help of the Indian government so that they can apply for admission in other European countries like Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.
The IUSF representatives have also reached out to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) with the request to help them get admission in Indian medical colleges.
“We students are ready to give all kinds of screening tests for getting a licence from National Medical Commission (NMC) to practise as a doctor in India,” said Harsh Goel, an Indian student who was pursuing medicine from Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University (IFNMU) in Ukraine.
Former Indian Medical Association national president Dr JA Jayalal claimed that the Indian government had taken some steps regarding absorption of the students, to ensure practical knowledge to those in their final year as well as arrange internship programmes for them in medical schools in India.
He, however, added that there were a lot of hurdles that need to to be removed before these students could be admitted to Indian colleges.
“Infrastructure of Indian medical schools is another obstacle in the absorption of the students. One more challenge is, as Indian medical schools provide for a five-year MBBS programme and these students follow a six-year programme structure, so this creates confusion while admitting them since we don’t know in which year these students need to be adjusted,” Dr Jayalal explained.
Hundreds of Indian students in their final year heaved a sigh of relief after Ukraine announced that the mandatory state licensing examination, KROK-2, scheduled in September 2022 has been scrapped
Harsh Goel claimed that “IUSF has demanded that all necessary documents that are required to take transfer in any other national or international medical universities from the Ukrainian universities be done by the Embassy of India in Ukraine, as it was next to impossible for the students to go back and collect them.”
Financial Frustration And Anxiety
The financial burden is another aspect that is proving to be a big challenge for several students and their parents.
Ashish Giri, another medical student in Ukraine, pointed out that his parents took an education loan from a bank to fund his MBBS education in Ukraine. “We don’t know what will happen now in Ukraine and to our careers. So we request the Indian government to provide us admission in colleges in India so that we can continue our studies and become a doctor, which is the ultimate aim and dream for me and my family.”
Students, who were in the western part of Ukraine, are attending online classes as that part of the country is relatively safe from Russian attacks.
Harsh shared an incident from his online class when the emergency siren was sounded to warn about an air raid and the teacher who was giving a lecture online said that “the class will continue soon after I am back from the bunker.”