Say they’d rather continue with online classes
Indian students back from Ukraine’s medical colleges are unhappy with Karnataka government’s proposal to place them in the state’s medical colleges. They fear the decision will disrupt their education.
On March 21, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar announced the Karnataka government would accommodate around 700 Ukraine-returned medical students in 60 medical colleges across the state.
Although the decision was taken in favour of the students who would miss out on their education due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, they seem to have many doubts about the arrangement.
The Observer reached out to some students to find out their concerns.
Vavilthota Yuktesh, 18, a first-year medical student at the Kharkiv National Medical University, said: “I will be happy if the government does something about it, but I do not think it is really feasible. There are a limited number of medical seats in India. Getting the infrastructure to suddenly accommodate so many students is not easy.”
Ukrainian universities have been conducting regular online classes for over two weeks, and the students are hopeful that the situation will improve soon.
“I still want to go back to Ukraine and continue my education. But if they do offer seats here, I wouldn’t give it a second thought,” Yuktesh added.
The government has not provided details of how the students will be accommodated.
Prakash Lingegowda, media adviser to the Karnataka ministry of health and welfare, said: “The idea is to temporarily accommodate the students in colleges around the state. We are ensuring that their education continues until there is more surety about the whole situation. We are not sure how this is going to work out. There is a committee that will decide all the details of how the process will go.”
The government will not offer permanent seats; the students will only be unofficially accommodated in the colleges. They will not even need to pay any additional fee, he added.
Other concerns among students are about the sudden change in the environment and curriculum and its effect on their education.
Shwetha Kumar, 21, a student of the Kharkiv National Medical University, said: “The syllabus and curriculum of our college are very different from those of Indian colleges. It is especially harder for medical students as medicine is a very complicated degree. On top of that, we are in the middle of a semester. We are not sure how we will adapt in such little time and carry on with our studies the same as before.
“Personally, I would prefer to continue with online classes. I’m only in the first year so it is manageable as long as our university is able to make all arrangements. Transferring to Indian colleges sounds fine, but I am not sure if I can manage any more changes in the middle of my course,” she added.
Several factors contribute to the fact why it can be hard for the students to transfer colleges in the middle of their course.
Dr Yogita Sulaxane, a professor at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Jalgaon, explained: “Of course, the curriculum is very different. What they learn in the first year of their course we teach our students in the later semesters and vice-versa. Secondly, it also depends on the kind of medical equipment and technology that is available. Different countries have different medical technology and it is harder to cope with a sudden change in the scenario. That is why students from foreign universities are required to clear a test before they are able to practise medicine in India. Practising medicine in different parts of the world needs different qualifications, and I am sure European medical technology must be very different from what we have here.”
On the other hand, Ukrainian universities have also been trying to make alternative arrangements for their foreign students.
Hritika Joshi, another medical student from the Sumy State University, said her university has considered transferring some of the students to colleges in Hungary.
“The problem is that (seats in) colleges in Hungary cost a lot more. The average tuition fee for Hungarian medical colleges is somewhere around US$10,000, which is similar to what you pay for Indian medical seats. In Ukraine, it was $5,000-6,000 (Rs 3.5-4.5 lakh) at the most,” Hritika added.
The MBBS fee for private colleges can range from Rs 20 lakh to more than Rs 1 crore. With a limited number of government medical seats in India, a large number of medical students prefer going to Ukraine as it is a more affordable option. But due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the education of almost 20,000 such Indian students has been affected.