Indian Medical Students from Ukraine Evacuated: Does Public Display Mask Private Betrayal?

September 17, 2022

A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other, and we then know how to meet him.” – Aesop (620 – 569 BCE) Greek fabulist best known for his Aesop’s Fables.

This quote comes to mind when we consider the experience of the situation of Indian medical students, who apparently could not get or afford a seat in India and made a beeline to Ukraine. Their quest for a medical degree was shattered by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Indian government rose to the occasion by organizing the emergency airlift these medical students. This action evoked widespread appreciation in India. But, the follow-up on this has generated bewilderment among student, their families and beyond. The latest developments in this matter are reflected in a recent report in The Times of India (TOI) and excerpted below.

Return to collect docus: Ukraine univs to students

The impasse for medical students who returned from Ukraine seems unending. While Indian authorities have permitted them temporary academic mobility to med schools anywhere around the world, their primary university is refusing to part with original certificates unless some conditions are met—that candidates come back toUkraine to complete formalities for collection of documents.

Several Ukrainian university deans have intimated students that unless they return books borrowed from the library and hand over hostel linen, their original documents will not be released. Most students contend that they left everything behind in their hostels while evacuating in February 2022. Universities in the western region are, in fact, asking students to return to class on the campus, stating that it is all safe there. They are refusing to even allow a transfer.

Umesh Gurjar, who counsels students keen to pursue medicine abroad, said the process of getting documents back is lengthy and may come in the way of re-admissions because most European medical schools began their academic year on September 1.

On September 5, the National Medical Commission (NMC) had permitted Indian medical students studying in Ukraine to transfer to any other university in the world. This would have come as much-needed relief to around 18,000 students whose careers have been in limbo ever since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out.

TOI had reported in March that medical schools from across the world had reached out to foreign medical aspirants who were in Ukraine as well as counsellors based in India and offered them admissions on their campuses. At no additional cost and without an entrance exam, these candidates were promised seats in medical schools. Assistance for transfer had come from institutes in Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus and Poland. Ukrainian universities had started online lectures, but with no end in sight to the war, students needed to move to institutes where practical sessions are held. But it seems the NMC notification has come a bit late in the day. Getting documents from institutes like the National University of Kharkiv is proving to be almost impossible.

GOI had done a commendable job in evacuating students earlier in 2022. It now says that these students have no scope for continuing their studies in Indian medical colleges. It is also not pressing the government’s diplomatic set-up in Ukraine to facilitating the release of documents from Ukraine medical colleges so that the affected students can try their luck outside Ukraine medical colleges. On both fronts – finding seats in Indian medical colleges and securing documents from Ukraine medical colleges – Government of India seems to have let down the Ukraine-returned medical students.

An Update

Here is an update from Deccan Herald (18/9/22). 

The Supreme Court on Friday asked Union government to develop a web portal providing details of foreign universities allowing Ukraine-returned undergraduate medical students, affected due to attack by Russian forces. 

A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the government should help Indian students who will now have to go to other countries…and the high commissions could help the students in all possible ways. 

“Start a web portal, post details like available seats in colleges…, fees, etc., and ensure that they are not fleeced by agents, the bench said. 

The court said that the government should use its resources to help students.


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Comment on this article

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Sun, Sep 18 2022

    Sir, a timely article on the pitiable situation faced by Ukrainian students from India! Even though the authorities timely evacuated the students, they should not have given false promises of helping them to continue their education in India; fact is that it would have been practically impossible to accommodate such a large number of students! Also, the fact that the education there is substandard because even from those who have completed their degrees hardly a small percentage of them are able to clear the FMGE exam to pursue postgraduation or even practice in India! I foresaw this crisis coming and had suggested that these students should immediately join some paramedical course for which do there is very good scope instead of wasting their time based on hollow promises! Now, they are left to fend for themselves! As someone has suggested that this is a very big scam in which agents make a lot of money in collusion with the respective Universities; this should be outright banned in the the interests of our students and the hard earned money the parents waste!! IMHO, best solution is to forget this and join some paramedical course in India!!

  • I J S Shet, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 18 2022

    This whole medical education affair is a huge criminal scam really. The Indian authorities saved the lives and limb of expat students in the Ukraine a very critical juncture and all, specially the students and their families were grateful at that critical point in time. Faulting the Govt. and authorities at every turn is a popular permanent fad. I Wonder if the writer and editor of this are aware; how many thousands Indian students who have got basic medical qualifications from China, Russia, Ukraine and such places have even after ten attempts failed to qualify for PG in India and are prevented from medical practice and have to settle for failure. The Indian authorities should not permit students going to Universities, whose medical degrees they can not accept for seeking direct admission to PG and other options in India. Thanks.

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