Home or abroad? Ukraine-returnee students in a fix 

Uday K.B. ( second from left ) from Bengaluru with his friends in Ukraine.

Uday K.B. ( second from left ) from Bengaluru with his friends in Ukraine. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As big as the relief was to reach home safely from a war-torn country, Indian students who returned from Ukrainian universities are in a quandary over their immediate academic future. Returning to their universities now is increasingly becoming a pipe dream, while the Indian Government is yet to make known its decision on accommodating the students – numbering thousands.

Mahaganapati Kashinath Bilimaggad from Gadag, a second-year medical student, has been attending online classes. His teachers are in western Ukraine, which is relatively safer compared to the east, and they are taking online classes from home, he said. “Only some universities are still taking online classes. Sometimes, when there are sirens, classes are dismissed as they have to head to bunkers. We also miss practical classes,” he said. There are so many Indian students that the classes are separate for them, he explained.

With the current arrangement a temporary measure, what does he plan to do? “Going back is ruled out. If the Central Government announces seat allotment, then we will study here. We have also been told we can transfer our courses to Romania and Poland. But I prefer studying in India,” he said.

With reports of discrimination against Indian students, reported even during the evacuation process, some pinning it to India’s stand on the war, students are also wary of returning to Ukraine if at all the situation returns to normal. “I didn’t see any discrimination while I was there. But I do feel it is risky to return after hearing about the stories,” he added.

Chaitra Gerupalya Srinivasa Murthy, also a second-year student who is now home in Bengaluru, said going back to Ukraine is out of the question as university buildings have been damaged too. “But we can’t stop our studies. The Government has to take this up seriously and give us seats. We are willing to pay the same fees we were paying there,” she said.

Students have paid their year’s fees, but aren’t expecting any refund. She said they are not in touch with university officials, and when they call their teachers, many cry over the present situation.

“Who knows how many years it will take for Ukraine to get back to normal. This time, the Indian government has to compromise for us. There are fifth and sixth year students who are stuck in their courses. We were forced to look outside the country because there were not enough seats here. The present situation is not our fault at all,” she said.

The Karnataka Government had recently announced that it will facilitate continuation of education of about 700 medical students of the State who have returned from Ukraine by accommodating them in 60 medical colleges here. However, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar had clarified that the students will not be officially absorbed into the colleges, and that the measure is aimed to ensure that their learning and practice is continued till a solution is found.

Bridge courses?

Earlier, the Consortium of Deemed-to-be Universities in Karnataka (CODEUNIK), comprising eight universities, had also stepped in offering to accept 25 students in each year of the course. But it had hinted at the need for a bridge course for these students, offering to conduct one to bring them on a par with their students.

However, Ms. Murthy said the curriculum includes the same subjects, which in Ukraine are completed in six years. “In fact, we have extra subjects such as Latin for anatomical terms. Year-wise there may be a difference in the sense that what students learn here in the first year may be taught in Ukraine in the second. So a bridge curriculum is not exactly needed. It’s not easy to get through and study in Ukraine as people here say it is. One needs 100% attendance, pass tests, etc,” she argued.

Uday K. B. from Begaluru, who is also attending online classes, said while returning to Ukraine was not possible now, Poland and other countries may work out to be more expensive. Students are terribly confused, and though the Philippines is also a popular destination for studies, there are issues around the medical course offered there too, he said. “India is already expensive for us. If they accommodate us, students who were studying in China may press for a similar move. I don’t know how Indian students will react to this. If the NMC (National Medical Commission) will allow pursuing MBBS from two countries, then Georgia is the next best option as it is almost the same price as Ukraine,” he said. 

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 10:25:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/home-or-abroad-ukraine-returnee-students-in-a-fix/article65253131.ece