Amid the rising tension between Ukraine and Russia, Indian students living in Ukraine are left with two choices – stay and continue offline classes amid uncertainty, despite warnings from the Indian Embassy, or return to India after spending lakhs and suffer learning losses due to lack of exposure.
While some universities are supporting online education, students, especially those in medical colleges, claim that online courses cannot make doctors. Further, the National Medical Council (NMC) of India has also refused to accept online MBBS degrees as valid.
Among those who wish to return, heavy ticket prices are proving to be a hurdle. Students claim that flights which are usually available at Rs 50,000-70,000 are now being offered at Rs 1 lakh.
Students in their third and sixth year of the course have exams in May-June. With no clarity on exam dates and modes, many are waiting to take a call on their return.
More wait, again, means higher prices.
“Locally, the situation is fine, but even the local residents are preparing for a tough time ahead," said Anubhav Arya, a native of Bihar and a third-year student of Ivano Frankvisk National Medical University.
Foreign students, including Indians, held protests at the varsity, demanding online classes for those willing to shift to the digital mode. The varsity has allowed students to continue their classes online till March 12.
While Arya agrees that moving to online mode would lead to learning loss, especially for medical students, he said, “staying safe is the first priority now”.
He also told News18.com that his parents and family members back in India are worried and calling him back home. “It is really impossible to book tickets at this price."
“If the university allows 20 days of online education and things start to improve after that, we will have to come back. Considering the current prices, it would cost us about Rs 2 lakh for to and fro travel. We can’t afford to spend so much in such a small timeframe," said the student.
An Indian student hailing from Bareily, UP, and studying in the sixth year at Kharkiv-based university spoke to News18.com on condition of anonymity, “Even as some universities support online classes, third and sixth year students don’t want to return to India, as we have exams in May And June. We will not be able to get degrees without clearing these exams. On top of this, we are facing pressure from parents who are worried about us staying in Ukraine. We need full information about our Ukrainian exam and reduction in flight prices."
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Ketul Kareliya, a native of Surendranagar, Gujarat and an MBBS graduate from Ukraine, claims that he has been receiving queries from his juniors. There is no clash on the streets yet, however, it is just the unpredictability of the situation, which is creating tension among students.
“Students are in a huge dilemma, they are feeling unsafe, but are also concerned about the future because the embassy has advised them to return and continue online education, but the NMC in India does not recognise online education. A majority of students are opting to return by the first flight they get. The ones who are choosing to stay back are those who are either in their final years close to graduation or who simply can’t afford such expensive flights," he told News18.com.
Afzal (name changed on request), a third-year student of Bogomolets National Medical University, Ukraine said, even though the condition is nearly normal in his area, he is planning to return.
“I reached out to the Indian Embassy and they said there might be a situation where an evacuation would be needed."
He is, however, worried about missing practical exposure, especially because of limited offline classes due to Covid-19. “I am in my fourth year, but I got only a few months in the offline mode," said the Madhya Pradesh native.
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