Published: 19th July 2022
NMC's affidavit to SC outlines a one-time measure for Indian students back from China/Ukraine. But does it address all issues?
For those who have completed their undergraduate studies and have the certificate of completion, they will be permitted to appear for the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE)
It seems like the wait is finally over for all those foreign medical students who came back to India from various countries abroad where they were pursuing their medical education. The National Medical Commission (NMC) on July 18, 2022, submitted an affidavit in response to Supreme Court's directions to formulate a framework for these students so that they can continue their academics and clinical training.
To recall, the SC had directed the NMC on April 29, 2022 to come up with a one-time scheme to allow all those students who couldn't continue their clinical training abroad to do so in medical colleges in India. These students being referred to are from various countries including China, who are stuck in India because of a temporary visa ban, now being lifted in small batches, induced by the pandemic, and war-torn Ukraine.
What does the affidavit say?
In the affidavit, which EdexLive has a copy of, the NMC stated that the UGMEB (Undergraduate Medical Education Board) examined the difficulties of the students and concluded that "students from China / Ukraine cannot be accommodated in Indian Colleges for various reasons, mainly due to the non-availability of adequate infrastructure, clinical material, lack of teaching faculty and other physical facilities."
As per the affidavit, during the deliberation between UGMED, NMC and the officials it was discussed that, "as a one-time measure, the board has decided to grant relaxation to foreign medical graduates who had completed their course from foreign medical institutes and had studied through online mode (i.e without physically attending clinical training) due to extraordinary situation brought about by COVID-19 pandemic, Russian-Ukraine war etc."
For those who have completed their undergraduate studies and have the certificate of completion, they will be permitted to appear for the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE). Upon qualifying, they will be required to undergo Compulsory Rotating Medical Internship (CRMI) for two years in order to make up for the lost physical training, stated the affidavit.
It was also stated in the affidavit that, "The Embassy of Russian Federation has informed MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) that the Indian students evacuated from Ukraine can continue their studies in Russian Federation." Similarly, the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan also shared with the MEA that the aforementioned students can continue their education in their universities. Above all, China too has shown willingness to begin the process of calling back students on a trial basis, the document said.
But when it comes to transferring from one foreign institute to another, student Rachita Kurmi has a few points to make.
Rachita, from Shandong University, 2019 batch, is one of the members who has been at the front and centre of the movement to send back students who are stuck in India to China so that they can continue pursuing their academics there. The youngster makes a point when she says that as per FMGL (Foreign Medical Graduates Licentiate) Regulations 2021 only those who pursued the course in foreign institutes prior to November 18, 2021, are eligible for transfer and don't come under screening test regulations. "Hence, it is implied that the others (students pursuing the course after November 18, 2021) have to complete their studies only in one university/college without transferring to others," she added. She stated that the NMC needs to clarify when it comes to this point.
But what can be the advantages and disadvantages of transferring from one foreign university to another? Listing out the disadvantages, Rachita say, investing again in another country, language problems, fee hikes, and a lot more. Take Rachita's own case for example. "I want to transfer to a Russian university, but it would be tough to convince my parents because Russia is a war-waging country."
Further, the student adds, "The only advantage is without waiting for NMC's delayed response, one can go forward with their plans if they are willing to settle in other countries like the US or UK."
What parents have to say
Sharing her views on this, Sonia Lumba, Women Cell Member of Parents Association of Ukraine MBBS Students, said, "We will file a writ petition in SC in another five to ten days."
Sonia also informed that the next step is seeking support from MPs and political parties. Already Rahul Gandhi from Congress, and Varun Gandhi and Subramanian Swamy from BJP already posted in support of the issue via social media, she points out.
Additionally, Sonia comments, "It is very shameful and sad that India cannot accommodate Indian students due to the non-availability of faculty and infrastructure facilities."
President of FMGPA (Foreign Medical Graduates Parents Association) Andrews Mathew said that they support NMC's affidavit and added that they are not looking for students from China to be accommodated in Indian medical colleges as they understand the limitations of infrastructure.
Sharing the demands of their association, Mathew stated that FMGs should not be kept waiting for internships as a whole year might just go in vain waiting for the next attempt.