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Russia-Ukraine War Impact: Bengal mulls options for war-hit Indian students

Mamata writes to Modi pleading for engineering and medical pupils who had to return from Ukraine

Subhankar Chowdhury, Subhajoy Roy | Published 17.03.22, 07:06 AM
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee speaks to students who returned from Ukraine at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra on Wednesday.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee speaks to students who returned from Ukraine at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra on Wednesday.

Picture by Gautam Bose

The state government wants to allow students who were forced to return from Ukraine following the Russian invasion to complete their medical and engineering courses in Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday.

Mamata, who was interacting with the students at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra, also wrote to the Prime Minister during the day, apprising him that her government had approached the National Medical Commission for permission to accommodate the students in Bengal colleges in this “unprecedented” situation.


“Sir, this is an unprecedented war situation which calls for an extraordinary solution,” Mamata wrote.

Altogether, 391 students have returned to the state from Ukraine since the invasion, the chief minister said. Most of them are medical students and the rest are pursuing engineering courses.

During the interaction, Mamata informed the students about the range of options her government was working on so they could complete their studies from colleges in Bengal.

She told the students who were pursuing engineering courses in Ukraine that the state government would make arrangements so they could complete their BTech from private colleges in the state at an affordable rate.

An official said they were in touch with the All India Council of Technical Education, which oversees engineering education in the country, for the necessary approval.

Mamata said she was planning to engage the students who were in the fourth, fifth and sixth year of their MBBS courses in Ukraine as interns at government medical colleges.

MBBS courses in Ukraine are of six years, unlike in India where they are of five years.

“We will write to the commission so they give permission, enabling us to engage the students… as interns,” Mamata said.

“We will allow them (students from Ukraine to work as interns in government medical colleges) and will give you a stipend,” she said.

The chief minister proposed that the students who were in the first, second and third year of MBBS courses in Ukraine could join offline practical classes at government or private medical colleges in Bengal and attend online classes held by the universities in Ukraine.

If first-year medical students want to start afresh in Bengal, the state government will seek permission to let them do that.

“You will have to lose a year. The MBBS course in Ukraine spans six year and ours five years. In that case (while enrolling in the first year at a medical college in Bengal), we can take permission to make a special arrangement for you,” Mamata said.

A state government official said since the students had enrolled for a six-year undergraduate medical course, the commission’s permission would be required if they wanted to switch to a five-year MBBS programme.

“If the students have cleared NEET-UG, they can enrol in Bengal colleges straightaway. If not, they have to crack NEET-UG,” he said.

Mamata said the state government was also seeking the commission’s permission to let the students who were in the second or third year of their courses in Ukraine to complete their education in private colleges in Bengal.

“Whenever I get the permission, I will tell the private colleges that these students will be admitted in the seats that are reserved for the state government in their colleges. They will have to be admitted in the reserved seats at the government rate,” she said.

“In that case, whatever the government rate works out to will be equally shared by the state government and the private medical colleges.”

Bengal has about 4,000 undergraduate medical seats, an official in the health department said. The majority of them are in government medical colleges.

The state government doesn’t want to reduce the number of seats available for other students while trying to include the ones who have returned from Ukraine in the middle of their courses, the official said.

“Suppose there are 100 seats at a medical college and there are 10 students from Ukraine who will enrol there.

Admitting the 10 students would result in curtailment of seats for the others unless the total count is increased by 10,” the official said.

“The state government will write to the commission requesting it to grant 10 extra seats in the existing infrastructure as a special case.”

Arka Samaddar, a first-year student at Zaphrozhia State Medical University who was at the interaction, said he wanted to pursue the course in Bengal because he could not go back to Ukraine in the current circumstances.

Last updated on 17.03.22, 07:23 AM

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