Moroccan students who returned from Ukraine after their study abroad was interrupted by the Russian invasion are facing difficulties continuing their studies back home.
There are more than 7,000 of these students, and some, along with their parents, have organised protest groups to press their concerns.
They complain that the Moroccan authorities have so far failed to integrate them into the country’s universities. They also oppose plans to require students in some disciplines to pass placement tests before being admitted to programmes.
Many of these Moroccan students’ parents have held protests outside the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, in Rabat. They denounce the ministry’s official position and call for the “unconditional” inclusion of their children in Moroccan universities and institutes.
“We returned to our country because of a war that was imposed on us. We must be helped; conditions and restrictions should not be set for our inclusion in Moroccan universities.”Khalil Al-Mansoori A member of a group called the Coordination of Students Returning from Ukraine
Leila Ahmed, a mother who took part in a recent protest, told Al-Fanar Media that the parents rejected the ministry’s conditions, particularly its requirement that the students returning from Ukraine must pass an exam to assess their level before being admitted to Moroccan universities.
She said such exams would be “almost impossible because of differences in curricula, in addition to the different language of instruction as students were studying in Ukrainian.”
The families have “exhausted all means to call for justice for their children and help them in this crisis” and are now counting on official help to overcome their ordeal, she said.
Meetings with Medical Deans
Abdellatif Miraoui, Morocco’s minister of higher education, said the ministry had consulted intensively with deans of faculties of medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry, in both public and private institutions, about the conditions for admitting students returning from Ukraine.
Miraoui said strict adherence to quality-control measures in these disciplines made it necessary to test the returning students’ academic level before admitting them to training programmes.
Egypt adopted similar conditions for students returning from Ukraine and seeking to enrol in Egyptian medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and engineering programmes.
Leila Ahmed objected to the testing requirement, however. Making students pass an exam to enter the Moroccan university system struck at the credibility of their education in Ukraine, she said.
The protestors are asking that the returning students get help obtaining their diplomas and academic documents from Ukrainian universities.
Remote Study in Ukraine Is Still Possible
Khalil Al-Mansoori, a student and member of a group called the Coordination of Students Returning from Ukraine, said the students had “lost hope in the ministry’s promises.”
He told Al-Fanar Media: “We returned to our country because of a war that was imposed on us. We must be helped; conditions and restrictions should not be set for our inclusion in Moroccan universities.”
He added: “We are victims of a war. We did not choose this fate, it was imposed on us.”
“We understand parents’ desire to speed up solving this problem, yet they should know that it requires specific procedures and stages. … The integration will take place in the next academic year, not the current one.Mohamed Tahiri Director of Higher Education at Morocco’s Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation.
Al-Mansoori, who was a medical student at Kyiv Medical University, said most of the students who had returned were studying remotely with their Ukrainian universities to try to save the remainder of the academic year.
But “if the war continues, then this is not a solution,” he said.
Many Ukrainian universities have been heavily damaged and are struggling to remain open now. Al-Mansoori wonders what will happen in the next academic year.
Ministry Denies Stopping Its Efforts
Mohamed Tahiri, the ministry’s director of higher education, denied claims that the ministry had stopped integrating Moroccan students from Ukraine into the country’s universities and institutes.
“We understand parents’ desire to speed up solving this problem, yet they should know that it requires specific procedures and stages,” he told Al-Fanar Media.
“The ministry has been working since the crisis began to find appropriate solutions to help these students complete their studies,” he said. “The integration will take place in the next academic year, not the current one.”
Tahiri stated that over 7,000 students had registered on an online platform set up for students returning from Ukraine. The ministry is sorting through their information to determine the students’ specialisations and university levels, he said.
After that step is completed, it will “launch a second online platform to allow students to upload their documents and academic transcripts.”
Seeking Help from Other Countries
Earlier this month, Miraoui, the minister of higher education, told the Moroccan Parliament’s Committee for Education and Culture that universities were straining to accommodate all the Moroccan students returning from Ukraine, especially dentistry and pharmacy students.
The number of students in these two disciplines was more than the capacity of the country’s colleges, he said. Faculties of medicine, engineering, economics and management were facing less of a problem, he said.
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Morocco has contacted authorities in other Eastern European countries with educational systems similar to Ukraine’s, to see if they might accept some of the Moroccan students, Miraoui said. Hungary seemed ready to receive about 1,000 students whose studies in Ukraine were interrupted, the minister said.