Hopes fade: Centre says accommodating Ukraine-returned students will hamper medical education

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New Delhi: Centre has told the Supreme Court that the medical students, who returned from Ukraine, cannot be accommodated in the Indian universities in the absence of any provision under the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act, 2019, and if any such relaxation is given, then it will seriously hamper the standards of medical education in the country.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in an affidavit, said: “The prayer seeking transfer of these returnee students to medical colleges in India would not only be dehors the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act 1956, and the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, as well as the regulations made thereunder, but would also seriously hamper the standards of medical education in the country.”

“It is humbly submitted that in so far as such students are concerned, there are no such provisions either under the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 or the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 as well as the regulations to accommodate or transfer medical students from any foreign medical institutes/colleges to Indian medical colleges. Till now, no permission has been given by the NMC to trade or accommodate any foreign medical students in any Indian medical institute/university,” it said.

The affidavit added that the aggrieved petitioners had gone to foreign countries for two reasons — firstly, due to poor merit in the NEET Exam, and secondly, affordability of medical education in such foreign countries.

“It is humbly submitted that in case these students with (a) poor merit are allowed admission in premier medical colleges in India by default, there may be several litigations from those desirous candidates who could not get seats in these colleges and have taken admission in either lesser-known colleges or have been deprived of a seat in medical colleges.

“Further, in case of affordability, if these candidates are allocated private medical colleges in India, they once again may not be able to afford the fees structure of the concerned institution,” it said.

The affidavit added that the Centre in consultation with the NMC, the apex medical education regulatory body in the country, has taken proactive measures to assist returnee students from Ukraine while balancing the need to maintain the required standard of medical education in the country.

The Centre said the allegation of refusal of Ukrainian universities to entertain the applications of students for academic mobility in their first semester of the academic year 2022-23 is concerned, it is submitted that the same is completely vague, devoid of any details of the applicant students or the universities concerned.

“The relied upon communication shows that the students who have taken admission in their first semester (2022-23) are not being permitted academic mobility in the first semester by the Ukrainian Institutions. It is humbly submitted that the provision of academic mobility program was permitted only for those students who are already undergoing medical education in medical universities of Ukraine and are unable to finish such education because of disruption caused by the undergoing war,” said the affidavit.

The Centre said the public notice issued by NMC on September 6 is a no-objection for academic mobility between foreign universities for students who could not complete studies due to the war.

“In the Public Notice dated 06.09.22, the phrase ‘global mobility cannot be interpreted to mean accommodation of these students in Indian colleges/universities, as the extant

regulations in India do not permit migration of students from foreign universities to India. The aforesaid Public Notice cannot be used as a back door entry in Indian colleges/universities offering UG courses,” said the affidavit.

The Centre’s response came on a batch of petitions filed by Indian students who have been evacuated from Ukraine and seeking permission to continue medical study in India. One of the petitions, filed through advocate Ashwarya Sinha, said the education of 14,000 students has come to a halt and they are going through immense mental hardship.

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