Irish medical student forced to flee his studies in Ukraine says government has failed to deliver on promise of university place here

A young medical student who was forced to flee Ukraine when Russia invaded last February said the government had failed on its promise that she could continue her studies in Ireland.

Thousands of third-level students have already returned to their courses this month, and CAO offers have been made to those who took their Leaving Cert this year.

Racheal Diyaolu, a 19-year-old woman from Carlow, was stuck in the university town of Sumy for several days at the start of the invasion and was unable to leave.

The medical student was rescued along with a couple by two Scottish gardeners who drove them out of town in March.


Racheal Diyaolu and her two friends, Roycee Iloelunachi and Anolajuwon Folarin, tried to flee Ukraine earlier this year

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said last March that any Irish students forced to leave Ukraine would be made easier to continue their studies here. 48 students are affected.

The young woman was honored by Carlow County Council for her heroic efforts to flee Ukraine and performed The Late Late Show detail their experiences.

However, students were recently told by Irish Medical School colleges that they could not compare curricula as Irish universities could not obtain information from Ukraine.

As a result, students are only offered certain modules and fear that they will have to repeat years already spent abroad.

Now Carlow Councilors are writing to Minister Harris seeking answers as to why Ms Diyaolu has not been given a place in Ireland.

Speaking to local radio station KCLRFM, Ms Diyaolu said: “[Last March] we [students] were assured by Minister Simon Harris that we would be admitted [to continue] our education after we had to leave Ukraine because obviously that was an obstacle to continue with our medical degrees.

“We spent the spring and summer waiting for more information on when we would start, but communication has been few and far between. Whenever we received a communication it was very vague and short and really not what we expected and hoped or promised.

It left me in limbo. I really don’t know what I’m going to do

“Now we were told that we would receive modules without a degree, like temporary students, but not official students at universities and that’s not what we were hoping for.”

She said the government made a promise it failed to deliver.

“I saw that so late [situation] occurred, it removed options for us like applying through the CAO. That left us [students affected] with very few options and it left me in limbo. I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ms. Diyaolu added.

The teenager had been told by Secretary Harris’ office that when she and the other students returned here they would choose another course as a substitute. Ms. Diyaolu did this as a “safety net” option.

People Before Profit councilwoman Adrienne Wallace raised the issue at a county council meeting in Carlow after hearing of Ms Dyaolu’s plight.

It seems to me that the government made promises that it could not keep

Cllr Wallace said: “This is a young woman who is quite inspiring. She has been through so much and has great ambitions for her own future. So hearing that she was left in limbo seems to me that the government made promises they couldn’t keep – and I just thought that rreally not acceptable.”


Secretary of Education and Higher Education Simon Harris. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

A spokesman for the Department of Continuing Education and Higher Education said: “A prominent issue remains the facilitation of clinical placement students. Cooperation with the Department of Health and the HSE will continue.

“Following extensive engagement with Irish medical schools, Irish universities are making it easier for displaced students to continue their studies in Ukrainian.

“This enables students to attend lectures and internships. Irish medical schools will provide assessments and support students in completing their programmes.

“This program will help support the continuation of their learning in the short term.”

The spokesman added that the department and Irish medical schools recognize that the war in Ukraine has disrupted teaching at many of their universities, which has had a direct impact on the higher education sector and in many cases the training of medical students. Irish medical student forced to flee his studies in Ukraine says government has failed to deliver on promise of university place here

Fry Electronics Team

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