Ukraine-returned medical students worried about KROK exam, resumption of offline classes; to file writ petition in SC on August 22

Students are under stress and pressure as the Ukraine universities announced that offline classes will begin on September 1 and KROK exam on October 4
Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)
Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)

While on one side the country is battling the war, on another side, medical students are fighting for their future. It has been six months since the Russain-Ukraine war started and it is still going on. Now, what adds more stress and pressure on the students is the announcement of the commencement of offline classes from September 1 and universities conducting the KROK exam on October 4, 2022. 

KROK, which is an Integrated License exam under European Credit Transfer System, is the mandatory exam for medical aspirants in Ukraine. Students pursuing their six-year course have to appear for KROK-1 in their third (pre-clinical) year to qualify for the next year. Additionally, in the last year, that is, their clinical year, KROK-2 has to be given. It is after passing the KROK-2 exam that a student is said to be a qualified medical practitioner in Ukraine.

Considering KROK as a very important exam for medical graduates, what could be the situation of Indian students who are stranded at home due to the ongoing war? Are they willing to go back and pursue medical studies? What are their claims and concerns?

Safety first, exam later?
When EdexLive spoke to a student, Shalini Chauhan, who completed pursuing her third year at Zaporizhzhia State Medical University, she questioned, "Even if I prepare for KROK, how will I reach Ukraine?" Further, she stressed that the preparation time for KROK is very less.

Similarly, Harsh Goel, a third-year student from Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University (IFNMU), said, "It is a do or die situation and our future is uncertain." He further said, "If a student doesn't appear for the KROK-1 test then the transcript will not be given by the University." 

When asked about their willingness to resume studies in Ukraine, both Shalini and Harsh informed EdexLive that their teachers and colleagues in Ukraine suggested they keep Ukraine as the last option as the situation now is pretty bad. In this regard, Shalini explained about the area her university is situated in. "There is a nuclear power plant, Russian Army is deployed and explosions are going on," which increases the risk factor, she implied. 

Harsh stressed that, "The education system is disturbed" and added that, "The exposure or practical education which was given earlier is not the same now."

Is transfer a good option? 
Considering the plight of students and their agitations, earlier, the Indian Government had come up with a solution and allowed them to transfer to other countries. The government said that the students can apply for transfer and continue pursuing their courses in other countries, namely, Poland, Romania, Georgia and so on. During this time, some countries even stepped forward in helping the Indian students. 

Shalini claims that the curriculum followed by Ukraine is quite different from that of other countries. Giving more details on this, she said, while Ukraine follows a six-year curriculum, other countries like Poland, Georgia and Romania follow a five-year curriculum. And the language stands as a barrier.

Additionally, Shalini highlighted that taking advantage of the situation, few countries have hiked their fee. For instance, to study in Poland, education alone costs Rs 10 to 12 lakh, what about the cost of living? she questions. 

Shalini stressed that many middle-class students prefer Ukraine but now, how are they going to bear the expenses of studying in other countries and the cost of investing again in learning another new local language? 

Moreover, Harsh said, the transfer certificate which the University handovers, will reflect that the student finished their second year despite studying for three years. This poses a problem because one year of their three years is not considered. 

In this context, a fifth-year student Saddam Hussain from Kharkiv National Medical University claims that other countries are refusing to admit fifth or sixth-year students due to language issues. Because, as those years are the clinical years, it is a prerequisite for medicos to communicate in local languages with their patients. 

Further, another fifth-year student Shubham Majumdar from Kharkiv National Medical University said that medical students contribute majorly to Ukraine's GDP (Gross Domestic Product), therefore the country wants the students to return. But the question of security is the main concern. When asked about feeling confident going back to the war-torn country, Shubham said, "Bombarding started at Kharkiv, so I don't think we will be safe." 

Taking about security, Shalini highlighted that many universities in their circulars mentioned that the university will not be responsible for students.

Moreover, highlighting other issues, Shubham said, National Medical Council (NMC) is denying the mobility programme and not considering the course which was completed online. While the universities are starting offline classes on September 1, "How are we going to attend offline classes?" he questioned. 

What next?
RB Gupta, President of the Parents' Association of Ukraine MBBS Students (PAUMS) is going to file a case in the Supreme Court on Monday, August 22. Gupta claims that 80 per cent of medical students in Ukraine are Indians, and both governments should help these students whose futures will be at stake. 

Gupta suggested that every student should file a writ petition individually in the Supreme Court so that the court can come up with a resolution. Similarly, he claimed that about 2,500 students will file a writ petition on August 22. 

When asked about the KROK exam, Gupta said, "Students should ask the Ukraine institutions to conduct the exam online." But on the contrary, when students asked the universities to do the same, the universities said that it is not in their hands and it is the higher officials who have to decide what can be done, said a few students. 

Supreme Court hearing on August 22
While writ petitions will be filed on August 22, a student informed there are already 12 to 13 writ petitions in Supreme Court, for which, the second hearing is scheduled on August 22. So all the students seem hopeful and are expecting that the court will stand in favour of the students.   

More than 20,000 students are in this conundrum of not being able to predict or decide what to do. 

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