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

Racheal Diyaolu hit out at Higher Education Minister Simon Harris’s failed pledge to students displaced by war

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Racheal Diyaolu after she arrived home safely at Dublin Airport

Racheal Diyaolu after she arrived home safely at Dublin Airport

Racheal Diyaolu after she arrived home safely at Dublin Airport

A young medical student who was forced to flee Ukraine when Russia invaded last February has said the Government has failed to follow through on a promise that she would be able to continue her studies in Ireland.

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

Racheal Diyaolu, a 19-year-old Carlow woman, had been trapped in the university city of Sumy for several days when the invasion started and was unable to leave.

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

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Racheal Diyaolu and her two friends Roycee Iloelunachi and Anolajuwon Folarin earlier this year when they were trying to flee Ukraine

Racheal Diyaolu and her two friends Roycee Iloelunachi and Anolajuwon Folarin earlier this year when they were trying to flee Ukraine

Racheal Diyaolu and her two friends Roycee Iloelunachi and Anolajuwon Folarin earlier this year when they were trying to flee Ukraine

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said last March that all Irish students forced to leave Ukraine would be facilitated to continue their studies here. There are 48 students who are affected.

The young woman was honoured by Carlow County Council for her heroic efforts to flee Ukraine and she appeared on The Late Late Show detailing her experiences.

However, students were recently told by the Irish Medical School Colleges that because Irish universities were unable to get information from Ukraine, they could not compare the curriculums.

As a result students have only been offered certain modules, and fear they may have to repeat years they have already taken abroad.

Now Carlow town councillors are writing to Minister Harris looking for answers as to why Ms Diyaolu has not been given a college place in Ireland.

Speaking on local radio station KCLRFM, Ms Diyaolu said: “[Last March] we [students] were reassured by Minister Simon Harris that we would be allowed [to continue] our education after having to leave Ukraine because obviously that was a stopping block to continue with our medical degrees.

“We’ve spent the spring and summer waiting for further information as to when we would start but communication has been few and far between. Whenever we did get communication it was very vague and brief, and really not what we were expecting and hoping for or promised.

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

"Now we’ve been told that we would be given non-degree modules, like temporary students but not official students at universities and it’s not what we had hoped for.”

She said that the Government made a promise which it has not fulfilled.

“Seeing that this late [situation] has occurred, it has removed options for us such as applying through the CAO. This has left us [students affected] with very few options and it’s left me in limbo. I genuinely don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ms Diyaolu added.

The teenager had been told by Minister Harris’s office that if she and the other students wanted to choose another course as a back-up when they returned here they could. Ms Diyaolu did this as a “safety net” option.

People Before Profit councillor Adrienne Wallace raised the issue at a district council meeting in Carlow after hearing that of Ms Diyaolu’s plight.

It looks to me that the Government made promises that they couldn’t keep

Cllr Wallace said: “This is a young woman who is quite inspirational. She’s been through so much and has great aspirations for her own future. So to hear that she has been left in limbo, it looks to me that the Government made promises that they couldn’t keep – and I just thought that really is unacceptable.”


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Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

A Department of Further and Higher Education spokesperson said: “An outstanding issue remains the facilitation of students on clinical placement. Engagement is continuing with the Department of Health and the HSE.

“Following extensive engagement with Irish medical schools, displaced students will be facilitated in Irish universities to continue their Ukrainian studies.

“This will allow students to attend lectures and practical training. Irish medical schools will deliver assessments and will support students in completing their programmes.

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

The spokesperson added that the department and the Irish medical schools recognise that the war in Ukraine has interrupted teaching in many of its universities, directly impacting the third-level sector, and, in many instances, the training of medical students.




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