The uncertainty may have ended – Crimea has voted overwhelmingly to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, but Indian students there are in a dilemma.
While worried parents are on Skype with their children at the Crimea State Medical University and co-ordinating with education consultants, speculation is rife over the possible fallout for them. There are over 600 Indian students at the university, an estimated 80 from Tamil Nadu.
Speaking to The Hindu from Crimea, B. Peer Fathima, a second-year student said: “There are so many rumours circulating here. While university and Indian Embassy officials have assured us of our safety and our continued education, many students are definitely worried.” One rumour, Fathima said, is that after the first three years, the medium of instruction at the university will be Russian only. Also, students are wondering if the academic structure will change to those of Russian universities. Another concern is visas; they may have to get a Russian visa in six months.
After a break of a few days, classes have resumed. Outside campus though, “there are both pro-Russia and Ukrainian forces. But the situation is calm,” she said. Fathima’s family members, who live in Gopalapuram, said they were waiting to see what would happen over the next few weeks.
While a few first-year students are planning to transfer to other universities in Ukraine – the Kharkiv National Medical University being the popular choice – for those who have completed two or more years, the situation is complex.
Suresh P., father of a first-year student, is hoping to transfer his daughter to Kharkiv. “There is a chance that everything will change completely. I am worried. I have heard trains from Crimea to other parts have been cut off and there’s no saying when the situation will normalise.”
“As of now nothing is official and the students are not facing any problem,” said Suresh Kumar R., owner of Truematics Overseas Education Consultancy, which has sent several students to Ukraine. “We are already checking with Kharkiv and other universities in Ukraine for vacancies and will transfer those who want to move out. As for the others, they are willing to continue in Crimea, as the university is reputed and recognised by the Medical Council of India,” he said.
However, at a meeting held late on Monday evening, university officials assured all foreign students that their education would continue unimpeded and that all formalities, including visas if necessary, would be taken care of, a student said.