Irish medical students from Ukraine seek clarity on study resumption offer in Ireland – The Irish Times

Irish medical students Seàna Valentine, Glen Shire, Christiana Olaide-Kolapo, Dominika Antczak and Timi Ogunjimi were forced to leave Ukraine when the Russian invasion began in February. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Irish medical students who had to leave their courses in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion have expressed concern that they may not be able to progress with the next year of their studies in Irish universities.
About 40 Irish citizens had to leave their medical studies at universities in the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Sumy and Ternopil in the wake of the invasion of the country six months ago.
In March, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said Irish students whose studies were interrupted by the Russian invasion could continue their education in Ireland.
However, the students were recently told by the Irish Medical School Colleges that because the Irish universities were unable to get information from their Ukrainian counterparts, they were unable to compare the curriculum in Ukraine and the approach to medical teaching in Ireland.
As a consequence, eligible applications have only been offered a list of “educational offerings (such as modules) most likely from the early programme years,” the students were told by a national student helpdesk set up to help students displaced by the war in Ukraine.
The Irish students, many of whom were entering their third year and later years in medical school in Ukraine which included clinical placements, are concerned that they will have to repeat earlier years of study once they resume their education in Irish universities because of this.
Seána Valentine, who was a third-year student at a university in Dnipro when the war started, said Mr Harris was “quite clear” that the students would be supported in the continuation of their studies but the email sent this week suggested that this was not going to be the case.
“What they appear to be offering us is a temporary solution which will involve some access to medical education, which will be from the early years of the medical programme. This is not what was promised,” said Ms Valentine, who is from Navan in Co Meath.
The students have written to the Irish medical schools to clarify the year they will enter in September once they resume their studies in Ireland.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Further and Higher Education said the Irish students “will be able to access the Irish educational system from September.” She confirmed that the absence of information from Ukrainian universities meant that it was “not possible” to compare the two education systems.
“The national helpdesk and the medical schools have offered to meet with the individual students. The department is committed to finding a path forward for these students,” she said.
Ms Valentine said the student group attended a meeting with education officials in recent weeks where they were told that there was “no way to conduct a quality assessment and content assessment of our curriculum as they couldn’t contact the deans of any of our universities.”
She expressed frustration that the Irish medical schools had not consulted with the students directly or that the colleges did not contact the Ukrainian department of education directly when they were unable to get any information about Ukraine’s medical curriculum.
Ms Valentine said they had received “absolutely no updates” since the meeting.
“We remain in limbo where our education is concerned,” she said.
It is considerably cheaper to enter medicine courses in Ukraine at graduate level with tuition fees for a full degree cost the same as a single year’s fees in an Irish university.
The plight of one of the medical students, 19-year-old Rachael Diyaolu from Carlow, was the focus of much public interest after she was stranded in Sumy in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border when the invasion began. She later escaped with the help of two Scottish volunteer drivers.
Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent
Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times
© 2022 The Irish Times DAC
© 2022 The Irish Times DAC

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