As war rages, Ukrainian returnees plan to withdraw from Ukrainian universities

In the four months since he was evacuated from Kharkiv in war-torn Ukraine in February, Omkar Venkatchari, a third-year medical student at Kharkiv National Medical University, has taken online courses and passed his end-of-semester exams. He is also currently preparing for KROK-1, Ukraine’s qualifying medical exam. But the war drags on and a return seems highly unlikely. So he plans to move to another country to complete his course. His peers are too.

“The (advisory) agency through which we (Indian students) went to university conducted a survey last week. They asked if we wanted to continue in Ukraine or go to other countries and it was a unanimous yes,” he said.

Venkatachari, who currently lives in Pune, notes that although it is a choice, moving brings its own complications. “There is no clarity on country, documents, qualifying exams, equivalence. Will we have to learn another language? What are the costs?”

Parth Dixit from Allahabad, a freshman at Bokovin State Medical University in Chernivtsi, also echoed the desperation.

The area surrounding his university was not fully affected, but he continued to “move as an emergency option”. With tragic news coming out of Ukraine, he could make the choice.

“When we came back to India, there was still hope. They said online classes would continue for a while and in June we could go back to college. Even today, the area in which our university is located is not so affected. They say we could possibly resume offline classes in September, but we (students) don’t know if we want to come back,” Dixit said, adding that “uncertainty” in Ukraine with news that “universities are badly affected” has led to the whole campus of students moving to other parts”.

War-torn Ukraine is under great pressure, resulting in additional costs, which many students cannot afford.

Pranjal Kaushik, who is currently at his home in Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, is one such student enrolled at Dnipro State Medical University.

“We had rented an apartment in Ukraine with friends. We used to buy groceries locally and cook for ourselves, but now food prices have skyrocketed. And it’s not just food. Locals have lost jobs and business; rents will be higher for international students. Moreover, it will also be dangerous,” Kaushik said.

Moving to another country also brings financial and logistical problems.

Mudit Mehrotra, a third-year student at Dnipro State Medical University, is currently in Varanasi. He said the counseling agency that worked with the students to bring them to Ukraine offered options to other European countries like Romania or Kyrgyzstan which would cost Rs 6-8 lakh. However, a country like Poland would be more expensive, costing between Rs 10 and 12 lakh per year.

“Our parents’ interest in sending us to Ukraine after not getting a government medical seat here was to look for a cheaper alternative because private medical colleges are too expensive here (in India),” he said. -he adds.

Dr Audhoot Nidgude, a representative of MD House, the agency that recruits students for Bokovin State Medical University, said: “Education was going on uninterrupted online and we thought it was not. it’s only a matter of time before they come back… There are several problems in mid-transfer. We saw this earlier when some of our students moved to Armenia during Covid-19 two years ago. The students were told that their degrees and transfer would not be recognized here and they fell into a bigger problem. If a student wants to move, they need their documents and transcripts. We were also waiting for the semi-annual reviews to end so that the situation would clear up over time.

He added that he hoped the National Medical Council (NMC) would soon find a solution for medical students in Ukraine, as ordered by the Supreme Court of India in April.

“We are still waiting a few more days or will consult with our students to make a decision for their future now before the start of the next semester,” he said.

Helen D. Jessen