The Ukrainian crisis is not the only one on their minds | Bombay News

Mumbai: Mumbra’s otherwise bustling Khan family now stay calm all day as their youngest member attends online classes. Khan Naushad Abdul Rashid, 24, a sixth-year MBBS student at Sumi Medical University, Ukraine, spent a lot of time on his computer screen trying to follow the practical lessons taught online by his professors of ‘university. Kharkiv.

“The final year of medical training is supposed to be spent in a hospital, learning every detail in hands-on sessions with teachers and doctors. The war has forced my lot to learn practical lessons online, which does not help us,” Naushad said.

Five months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced foreign nationals – including more than 18,000 Indian students pursuing higher education in the Eastern European country – to return home, many remain skeptical of their future. Although most universities resumed online classes in mid-March, senior students are missing practical sessions, especially for subjects such as gynecology, internal medicine and surgery, among others.

On July 29, the National Medical Commission (NMC) issued a circular stating that recently graduated Indian students pursuing medical studies in foreign countries and currently stranded in India due to the Covid pandemic or the situation in Russia and in Ukraine will be allowed to appear. the Overseas Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) this year. Once qualified, however, these students will have to spend two years in internship instead of one. According to many students, this would set them back another year. In the absence of NMC guidelines on transfers to other universities (abroad or in India), the futility of studying medicine online with little or no practical knowledge has left many of these students feeling in limbo. Also, most of the students have been admitted to these Ukrainian universities because of the low tuition fees. admission to another college is not an affordable option for many.

HT spoke to five students from the state to see how they are doing.

Iram Barbhuiya, 22 years old, 1st year

Iram Barbhuiya is the first in her family to dream big. His father, Sirajul Haque Barbhuiya, who runs a small business selling stones in Assam, invested his life savings from 9 lakh to pay for his first year of medical school at Kharkiv Medical University, Ukraine. She reached Kharkhiv on February 24, just at the start of the war. Iram has been at home for five months and attends all the conferences online.

“I completed my admissions process on February 23 and walked into class as an MBBS freshman on February 24, to be greeted by sounds of bomb blasts and sirens near campus. We were immediately evacuated and directed to the bunkers where we spent nearly three days. It took me two weeks to move from one underground shelter to another, after which I finally returned to India to my family,” said Iram, who lives in Mumbra with his parents and four older siblings. youth.

Iram faced strong resistance from his extended family to leave the country and study medicine. She is the first girl in her family to do so. “My father knew the investment was huge, but he always supported my dream of becoming my family’s first doctor. However, after spending close to 9 lakh on fees, I am now stuck in my house to attend lectures online, I still don’t know when I will go back to my class and attend lectures in a real medical school like other students” , she said. The family planned to apply for a loan to pay for their education for the next few years.

With her dreams now stalled, she has little clarity on what the future holds. “I have four younger siblings and I want them to pursue all their dreams. I hope this war will end soon and I will get a medical degree in the future. More than societal pressure, I want to prove to my parents that their support was worth it,” she added.

Namira Shaikh, 21, 3rd year

Shehnaz Shaikh (42) was raised in a household of minimal means, which forced her to drop out of school and focus on household chores. After the wedding, it was at his insistence that his eldest daughter, Namira, studied medicine. Shaikh wanted nothing more than to give his daughters a better quality of life.

“My husband and I work very hard so that our children can live lives we could never afford, and that includes pursuing an education and the career of their choice. I sold my jewelry and took out a loan for the Namira’s medical studies. But now our dreams remain unfulfilled,” said Shaikh. His daughter Namira is a third-year MBBS student at Sumi Medical University, Ukraine.

Residents of Santacruz, the family of five live in a small room in a chawl. While Namira is taking online classes for the third year of MBBS, her two younger siblings have just passed the Class 10 and 12 exams and are busy with their admissions. “The problem is not limited to the payment of fees, but there are also other living costs to be taken care of. My fear is that because of the war, once these students return to university, everything will cost three times as much. What will we do then? We are barely making ends meet here,” she said.

“My parents sold jewelry and took out loans from relatives to pay for my studies. I hope everything will return to normal and that we will all be called back for regular conferences. In the meantime, I try to find jobs that I can do online at night and attend lectures during the day so that my younger siblings’ education is not affected,” Namira said.

Dhrupti and Dhruv Thakkar

For 22-year-old twins Dhrupti and Dhruv Thakkar, their MBBS degree is two years away. The two fifth-year MBBS students of Ternopil National Medical University in Ukraine do not want a transfer or refund from their university. Instead, they plead with the government to let them complete the course in India itself. Adding to the students’ dilemma is the recent intimation from Ternopil University, sent by mail regarding the start of the academic year from September 1 and the possibility of starting the 2022-23 semester offline for all foreign students.

“Neither of us wants to transfer to another foreign university, nor can our parents afford to collect more money to pay fees elsewhere. I want to go back to my same university and come back with a degree in hand Dhrupti said. His fear is that any transfer will automatically mean more fees and the program will be completely new.

Residents of Ghansoli, the family spent nearly 6 lakh every year on both siblings for education as well as other expenses. After completing their six-year MBBS course, the twins plan to continue their (compulsory) internship in India. “To make matters worse, the National Medical Commission (NMC) here does not recognize a medical degree obtained from two different universities. So we approached the Supreme Court to get justice for students like us stuck in the middle,” she said.

Dhruv and Dhrupti are among some 300 students in Maharashtra who have sought redress from the Supreme Court through lead attorney Sidharth Luthra. Their 1000-page petition asks the Supreme Court to order the NMC to secure their future by allowing them to complete the rest of their course in India itself.

Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, a handful of medical universities in Ukraine have now started inviting their students back to campus. “We are both ready to return to our university, especially since we have already received information from my university that offline lessons will start from August. Although I am convinced, I I find it difficult to convince my parents to let me go, because the situation in the rest of the country is still not normal,” said Dhrupti.

Avishkar Mulay, 22, 3rd year

Avishkar Mulay (22) is one of many Ukrainian returnees patiently waiting to hear from his university and find the first possible flight to his university. Most Ukrainian universities started online classes from mid-March, and although students have taken online classes and also appeared for online exams, many are missing out on practical sessions.

“Our classes are conducted online, but the most important aspect of medical education is the hands-on classes that we miss,” Mulay, a third-year MBBS student at Bukovina State Medical University, told AFP. Chernivtsi, western Ukraine. A resident of Pune, Mulay is currently enjoying his break between semesters and hopes he will be back in his class before the start of the next semester.

“My parents spend 6 lakh every year on my studies and my stay, and the fact that currently our fees are not even used is a big problem. Although there have been discussions about transferring students to Indian colleges, there is no clarity on who will pay the fees? Ukraine is one of the many reasons why I chose to pursue my MBBS because Indian universities are unaffordable,” Mulay said.

His hope now is that the war will end and their parent university will welcome them back to Chernivtsi. “From what we’ve heard, the war hasn’t affected the town our college is located in, so getting students back to campus shouldn’t be difficult. We look forward to hearing from our university,” he added.

(With contributions by Sameera Kapoor Munshi)

Christi C. Elwood