On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. The invasion forced thousands of Indian students studying in Ukraine to rush to neighbouring countries for evacuation. The Indian government's 'Operation Ganga' evacuated 20,000 Indian nationals, 18,000 of which were students.
Nine month since, many of these students have returned to Ukraine because they have been unable to secure a transfer to any other university, or complete their course remotely.
With winter approaching, and Europe staring at an energy crisis, many of the students say they are facing severe power outages. This has made attending classes difficult. Even those students who opted for online classes are struggling.
Diya Devgun, a student in one of the Ukrainian universities said, "I am in second year so there aren't many clinical subjects but in 3rd year I do. According to NMC, we have to be present there. So in 3rd year I am planning to go back to Ukraine."
The uncertainty prompted many students to come together and file a petition in the Supreme Court in July this year. They sought to be accommodated in Indian medical colleges. The Indian government has opposed this request on two grounds: one, that there is no statutory provision for such a move and two, this would hurt the standards of medical education in India.
According to government data, out of the 15,783 students who returned from Ukraine, 640 have gone back. A notification by the National Medical Commission says students can continue their education under the academic mobility programme by studying in partner universities in different countries. Nearly 170 students have been granted admission under this scheme. The remaining 14,973 have opted for online classes, citing problems with the mobility programme.
Sourav Upadhyay, a student at Zaporizhzhia State Medical University said, "I am ready for academic mobility but provide it. Semester starts in September, so half semester is already gone. Universities are also not issuing transcripts of students on time."
But relief from the court has still not come. The apex court heard the plea for the first time on the 29th of November and has posted the matter to the 8th of December.
More than 15 lakh students applied to become doctors in the last academic year. Only 5 percent of those eventually got an MBBS seat. That is because only 86,000 seats were available in more than 600 colleges across India. The mismatch between demand and supply is stark and this is the main reason why thousands head to universities abroad for a degree in medicine.