Evacuated from Ukraine, over 1,000 Indian MBBS students resume studies at medical university in Uzbekistan

Around 19,000 Indian students were studying in Ukraine when the Russian invasion began in February 2021

Team Parvasi – Inside

Evacuated from Ukraine, over 1,000 Indian MBBS students resume studies at medical university in Uzbekistan

Samarkand (Uzbekistan): Evacuated from war-hit Ukraine in 2021, hundreds of Indian MBBS students, who thought their academic journey was over, have resumed their studies and started new lives in a leading medical university in Uzbekistan.

The Samarkand State Medical University in Uzbekistan has accommodated over 1,000 Indian medical students from Ukraine after the Indian Embassy in Ukraine reached out to them enquiring if the affected students can seek a transfer.

Amit from Bihar’s Begusarai, spent one night in a basement in Ukraine when Russia attacked. He was among the students evacuated by the Indian government under the ‘Operation Ganga’ initiative.

‘Operation Ganga’ was the initiative launched by the government of India to bring back Indians stranded in Ukraine. A total of 18,282 Indian nationals were evacuated under the initiative.

“I thought I wouldn’t make it and would either die or will be stranded in Ukraine. Once I was back home in India, me and my family were relieved but then began the never-ending cycle of uncertainty about what was next. I had finished three years of my MBBS in Ukraine and to start all over again or pursue something else was not an option I wanted to consider. I later decided to move to Uzbekistan,” Amit told media.

He says living expenses in Samarkand are higher than that of Ukraine but he is happy to be able to continue his education.

Tanwi Wadhva from Punjab’s Ferozepur, who was studying at Bukovinian State Medical University in Ukraine, was apprehensive about joining the university due to the loss of a semester.

“I attended online classes for eight months. We were hopeful that the war would end and we would go back. Some students even went back from different routes but I didn’t want to take that risk. I evaluated all options from Georgia to Poland and decided to come to Uzbekistan. The university admitted us a semester back, I was initially apprehensive about the loss of one semester but later I changed my mind and it was worth the decision,” she said.

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Divyansh from Meerut who used to study at the same university as Wadhwa said Uzbekistan’s universities offered teaching and learning in English and the curriculum was on the same lines.

“Not all countries have universities which offer English as a medium of instruction. So that was a very important factor. Quality of life is similar in Ukraine and Samarkand but this place feels safer now,” he said.

Around 19,000 Indian students were studying in Ukraine when the Russian invasion began in February 2021.

According to estimates, approximately 2,000 Indian students have gone back to Ukraine and they are residing mostly in the western part of the East European country.

Several Indian medical students were left with no choice after their evacuation from Ukraine and transferred to universities in other countries to continue their studies. Many have gone to Russia, Serbia and other European countries.

Dr Zafar Aminov, Vice Chancellor, of Samarkand State Medical University, said when the war broke out, the Indian Embassy reached out to them enquiring if the affected students could seek a transfer.

“We evaluated the requirements of such students and then ultimately decided that enrolling them with a semester back would be a viable option to provide equivalence. We then set up a team to facilitate transfers and also made special arrangements for these students. We hired 30 more Indian teachers to ensure there are no accent issues,” he told media.

Aminov said the university has accommodated over 1,000 Indian transfer students from Ukraine. Deepika Kaidala Jayaramaiah, a student from Karnataka, said after seeing the war situation right in front of her, moving to a peaceful country was the priority.

“I have only read about war in history books. Never imagined that I would witness the situation in person. After it was evident that going to Ukraine was not an option now, I decided to resume my medical journey in Uzbekistan,” she said.

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