Indian students evacuated from Ukraine remain a worried lot even after narrowly escaping the ravages of war.
There are nearly 20,000 such youngsters, a large majority studying medicine till recently, who are in a limbo now. Under Indian rules, their credits cannot be transferred to medical colleges in the country automatically. They have two immediate choices: wait for the Russia-Ukraine war to end or take the foreign medical graduate exam and get placed at an Indian college.
The Indian Medical Association, a voluntary body of doctors in India, has written to prime minister Narendra Modi to allow a one-time relaxation of such rules. State chief ministers like Naveen Patnaik have also made similar appeals. But the National Medical Commission (NMC), which oversees medical education in India, has not indicated any changes in its stance.
“Rules are rules and they have to be followed by everyone,” Vijayendra Kumar, a member of the NMC, told the Economic Times newspaper on March 8. “Even students who were pursuing medicine in China got affected due to covid-19. They have not been given an exception, then why should it be given to any other students?” he asked.
Students back from Ukraine may now find themselves facing the exact fate they wanted to escape.
Why do Indian medical students go to Ukraine?
Both the cost of education in India and the high competition during admission make countries like Ukraine, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan attractive alternatives for Indian students.
“The number of seats available for medical education in India is far less than the number of aspirants who leave school with the dream of becoming doctors,” K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, wrote in The Indian Express newspaper. He added that out of the 1.6 million students who appeared for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test in 2021, only 88,120 made it to the 562 medical colleges in India.
For students who chose Ukraine and were forced to return, transferring to universities in the UK or US would be nearly impossible given the high cost of education and living. Countries closer home may hold some answers.
Medical schools in the UAE
The Gulf Medical University in the UAE will accommodate Indian students returning from Ukraine, it said in a press release yesterday (March 9). To this end, it has set up a dedicated team of admissions counsellors.
Some of these seats will be free, while others will be granted scholarships based on their needs.
In the healthcare sector in countries like the UAE and Kuwait, nurses trained in India are among the most coveted medical staff. There is a thriving community of Indians in these countries, built over decades of migration for jobs.