The National Medical Commission (NMC) Act of 2019 does not contain any provisions for housing Ukrainian medical students at Indian colleges, the Centre said to the Supreme Court on Thursday, adding granting any waiver would significantly lower the quality of medical education in the nation.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in an affidavit stated, “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 added, “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.”
The affidavit also said that the aggrieved petitioners had left for other nations for two reasons: first, because they had performed poorly on the NEET Exam, and second, because medical school was more affordable there.
“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.”
It said, “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.”
According to the affidavit, the Center has taken proactive steps to support Ukrainian students who have returned to their home country while balancing the need to uphold the necessary standard of medical education in the nation in consultation with the NMC, the country’s top regulatory body for medical education.
The Center asserted that the claim that Ukrainian universities refused to consider applications from students for academic mobility during their first semester of the academic year 2022–2023 is completely vague and devoid of any information about the applicant students or the universities in question.
IANS cited the affidavit in its article, “The relied upon communication, in fact, 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 programme 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.”
The Center stated that there are no objections to academic mobility between foreign universities for students whose studies were interrupted by the war as stated in the public notification NMC made on September 6.
The affidavit stated, “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.”
A group of petitions from Indian students who had been evacuated from Ukraine and asked for permission to continue their medical studies in India received a response from the Center. One of the petitions claimed that 14,000 students’ education had been put on hold and that they were suffering from severe emotional distress. It was submitted through an attorney named Ashwarya Sinha.
On Friday, the Supreme Court made the suggestion that the Union Government establish a website with information about foreign institutions where Indian medical students who have returned from Ukraine could finish their courses in accordance with the National Medical Commission-approved academic mobility programme.
Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia’s bench made the suggestion that there should be a transparent mechanism and that the online site may provide information on the costs and the availability of seats at alternative, suitable overseas universities.
The court was considering a number of applications from students who had to leave Ukraine because of the conflict and asked to be allowed to finish their medical schooling in India. Although India cannot accept the 20,000–30,000 students, the government might utilise its resources to assist them in choosing the right international universities, the bench said orally.
The petitioners have cited a report from the Lok Sabha Committee on External Affairs from August 3 in which it was suggested that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare consider temporarily housing Ukrainian students who have returned to private medical schools in India. The petitioners asked the Government of India and the National Medical Commission for the required action to be taken about Ukrainian students in light of the aforementioned suggestion.