The challenges faced by Indian students who returned to Ukraine, a nation currently engaged in a military conflict with Russia, to finish their medical studies seem unending. These students are now facing growing resentment from specific sections of the local community, who view India as aligned with Russia in the ongoing strife. This animosity has intensified significantly, particularly following Ukraine’s recent military offensive operations initiated in June 2023.
In the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, approximately 18,000 students were successfully evacuated from the country. However, a significant number of them faced obstacles in obtaining permission to resume their studies at Indian colleges or other international universities. Therefore, nearly 3,400 determined students defied the risks and returned to Ukraine to complete their degrees.
In the midst of their dire circumstances, these students have been making earnest endeavours to secure transfers to universities in different nations. They have been reaching out to both their individual state governments and the central government in pursuit of this goal. Unfortunately, their persistent efforts have yielded no positive outcomes.
According to a report by the Times of India, a student studying in Ukraine and originally hailing from Madhya Pradesh said, “As per National Medical Council (NMC) guidelines, students who are studying abroad after December 2021 cannot transfer to any other university. This is why I and many other students had to come back here.”
As the conflict continues to unfold, there is a growing shift in public sentiment that is becoming increasingly unfavourable towards Indian students. Another student said, “Local residents in Ukraine say, ‘You Indians are good friends with Russia’. They want us to leave their country.” She added, “Sometimes shopkeepers don’t sell things to us. We face the same thing in our hostel. The staff behave rudely with us.”
Another student said, “Sometimes, water is not available or the electricity goes out, or both. Sometimes the kitchen doesn’t open. How will we survive? We are stuck here because we have no other option.” Every time a siren wails, fear grips the students.
Another student said, “We live in constant terror. Our families in India live in fear. The sires are so frequent that we can’t study. We are pleading with our government to allow us to transfer to any other university in any other country. We are not demanding any money from anyone.”