Ukraine-returned medical students 2021 batch: With no transfers, students share painful personal plight

Around 2,500 students from the September 2021 batch are being denied transfers to safer countries due to FMGL regulations 2021 that came into place on November 18, 2021
Read here | Credit: Edex Live
Read here | Credit: Edex Live

Today, August 19, marked the last day of a four-day-long protest by Ukraine-returned Indian medical students from the September 2021 batch who are demanding to be allowed to transfer to other countries for medical education in light of the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war.

It has been over one and a half years since close to 20,000 students were evacuated from the war-struck country of Ukraine, leaving their education and future in uncertainty.

In the past two years, as the students waited for the war to end and for Ukraine to be brought back to a peaceful state, many of them switched careers or took transfers to other countries like Russia, Georgia and so on. 

Yet, a group of around 2,500 students from the September 2021 batch are being denied transfers to safer countries due to the new Foreign Medical Graduate Licentiates (FMGL) regulations 2021 that came into place on November 18, 2021.

As per the new regulations, the medical education for foreign medical graduates who took admission after November 2021 will now be regulated by the National Medical Commission (NMC) and there is no provision to allow transfers to another country.

As prolonged online classes are not recognised by the NMC in order to practise medicine in India, these students’ future is in limbo. Despite several campaigns and protests organised by both parents and students, the Central government and the NMC are yet to issue a clarification on their situation.

We reached out to three such students to speak about their experiences and struggles. Here are their stories in their own words:

If I speak for myself, the colleges I was getting in India after the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test - Undergraduate (NEET UG) required me to pay tuition fees ranging from Rs 50 lakh to 1 crore. My parents could not afford this expense as I am from a farmer’s family and I also have a younger brother who my parents need to take care of. 

At that point in life, I was depressed thinking that I would have to give up on my dream to be a doctor as I did not have the money. When I researched medical education abroad, I found out about countries with affordable education like Ukraine. And Ukraine, at that time, used to be considered one of the safer countries. 

Because of COVID-19, the students who took admission in the September 2021 batch were able to go to Ukraine only in December of that year. After three months, the war happened and we were evacuated. Now in these past two years, whatever has happened has left me questioning if choosing a medical degree was even worth it

Khushi Sharma, Second-year MBBS student, Lviv National Medical University


There is this misconception among the people that all the students who are going abroad for higher education belong to a rich and wealthy family but it is completely untrue. Most of the students who have been protesting for months asking to get transferred to other countries are from middle-class backgrounds and have financial issues. 

Most of our parents have either taken out a loan or arranged money from somewhere else in order to send us to Ukraine to fulfill our dream careers. My own family sold their property to get me into the college and now, we are struggling as there is no clarity about our future

Deepak Kumar, Second-year MBBS student, Ternopil National Medical University


I went to Ukraine to fulfill my dreams of becoming a doctor but unfortunately, the war took place between Russia and Ukraine, and our education was affected by it. 

People say that because we have been to Ukraine we must be rich but that isn't the reality. We do not have a lot of money. In India, it is impossible for a middle-class family to take admission into private medical colleges as the fee structure is really high and we cannot afford it. 

I do not know why the government is not allowing us transfers and forcing us to go back to that war-struck country. Now, we are unsure what will happen to us and whether or not the entire two years of our hard work and money will go to waste

Srishti Kumari, Second Year Medical Student, Tara's Shevchenko National University, Kyiv, Ukraine

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