25 September 2022 11:46:30 IST

Seven months since war, what next for Ukraine returnees?

Plea in SC for allowing medical students returning from Ukraine to continue education in India | Photo Credit: Jothi Ramalingam B | The Hindu

In March 2022, Arun, a fifth-year bachelor of medicine student at V N Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine came home to Thrissur, Kerala. The war in Ukraine had just begun.

Since then, he has been attending online classes and has graduated to the final year. Soon enough, earlier this month, Arun and his peers came across a notice on the university’s website.

It read that students can settle on virtual classes, go to the university’s campus in Western Ukraine, opt for academic mobility to a few universities in Georgia, or take up hybrid learning by attending classes in Nigeria, Morocco, or Mauritius. Karazin University, according to the Ukrainian government’s statistics, hosts the largest proportion of the international student population.

However, students and education consultants say that none of these options appear feasible. “I am considering going back to Ukraine but my parents are opposing this idea. They are hell-bent on me staying in India considering everything that happened over the last seven months. Medical education wouldn’t make sense without practical classes and moving to another country would only mean that we would burden ourselves more financially,” says Arun.

Higher education agents whom we spoke to, also said that medical education would be much more expensive in other European countries. “This is why, I am really dependent on the Supreme Court right now, hoping it would allow us to study in colleges in India,” he says.

Waiting for the verdict

On August 24, a group of students filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking permission to continue their medical education in India. While the petition will be next heard on October 11, the centre had already notified the apex court that these students cannot be accommodated in Indian colleges, but is working on solutions.

The SC, on the other hand, had suggested that the centre create a web portal containing the details of the foreign universities where these students can complete their courses.

“We are quite hopeful about this petition,” says RB Gupta, a parent. “While initially, we thanked the government for bringing our children back, we soon noticed that the government is least interested in helping them decide the next course of action. We had then protested. Later, we filed this petition,” he says, adding that he would never consider sending his son back to Ukraine.

Shruti, a fourth-year student of Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University, also shared a similar fear. “I have no hopes of continuing my education in India. But, I can’t waste my time. So, I’ll soon opt for a transfer to some other country,” says this 23-year-old from Madhya Pradesh. “This will for sure burden us financially. But what option do I have?” she asks.