When Russia launched a war on Ukraine and Indian medical students in the country under attack were asked to hide in bunkers, all they prayed was to get back home safely and soon. They did reach India mostly unharmed but remain apprehensive about their future and unhappy about the quality of online lectures at Ukrainian universities despite paying the tuition fees.
A few students indianexpress.com talked to said they have contacted government representatives several times but there is no clarity about their future.
Losing out on knowledge, time
Students told indianexpress.com they have already paid their current semester fees as the Ukrainian universities made it clear that they will not be able to access online lectures otherwise.
“The problem is that the quality and quantity of lectures is also not satisfactory. Students are paying their tuition fees but the lecturers are having to cut off their lectures after 5-10 minutes due to security threats or are not teaching whole-heartedly,” says Mahtab Raza, a fourth-year MBBS student of Sumy State Medical University.
Faisal Mohammad, another student from Sumy State Medical University, shared a similar experience. “I am a second-year student and I completed my first year just now, but I have had to pay the tuition fees for my third semester because authorities from my university messaged us saying that if we do not pay the tuition fees then we will not be allowed to get access to the platform where lectures are shared. So, in order to study, we had to pay but the lectures generally don’t take place,” he told indianexpress.com.
“Teachers teach for 10 minutes and then they say that our area is again high-risk so we will have to go hide in the bunker. That lecture is never repeated after that and due to this we are losing out on a lot of medical knowledge and time,” he added.
When asked about their plans after the current semester, they said they are not too sure about the future. “The government won’t give us a timeline, so we have to keep paying the Ukrainian university to at least be enrolled somewhere, even if we are not learning anything. So, we don’t know if we have to pay them for next semester or just drop education and join my family’s farming business,” said Faisal Mohammad.
The students claimed that even though they have reached out to the government and local ministers a number of times, the response has been rare to non-existent. “We have written to several ministers in the government about helping us, or at least giving us clarity about when will they be able to make a decision, but nobody responds,” said Mukul Chaudhary, a third-year MBBS student at Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University.
“The Supreme Court has given the NMC (National Medical Commission) a couple of months to frame a plan for clinical training. But what about us who are not yet at that level? What will happen to us? The government has no reply for us. They need to tell us how long it will take to form a plan to assist us so that we can plan accordingly,” added Chaudhary.
Students who talked to indianexpress.com identify themselves to be from middle-class or lower-middle-class families. These students said they chose to study in Ukraine as they could afford the education fee and living costs. However, they are unsure if they can get the same education in any other Western country or even India.
“I am not sure where to go next. Hungary is offering scholarships but the competition is severe for that and even though I have applied for the scholarship, I know that the tuition fees and cost of living are higher there. So is the case for other neighbouring countries such as Romania, Poland etc,” said Chaudhary.
Faisal added that moving to Romania, Poland, Hungary etc will be expensive for them and “there is always a threat that Russia can attack them too, like Ukraine”. Raza also said that going to other Western countries is not possible for the majority of the students as they are “more expensive”.
The students also made it clear that they want to settle down in India. “We need the government’s help. They will have to tell us when can they form and initiate a plan, instead of just saying they will help us,” said Raza.