SA medical students in Russia made to study from Wikipedia, Google

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

A group of 53 Mpumalanga medical students thought they would get top-class education in one of Russia’s universities but they now have to read material sourced from Wikipedia and Google.

The situation of students who are studying at Astrakhan State Medical University in Astrakhan, southern Russia, is so dire that they have to rely on YouTube in order to learn. They believe they are wasting time and will not come out of the university as doctors ready to serve their province.

In a WhatsApp conversation with City Press, the Mpumalanga Students Committee also alleged that:

•Their Russian lecturers only have basic English knowledge and struggle to engage and explain concepts;

•They are not given clinical training; and

•There are no textbooks.

The students declined to have an individual spokesperson quoted on their behalf for fear of victimisation.

“They say we want Hollywood treatment and we’re ungrateful. That’s not the case. We’re grateful and appreciate this opportunity but things are not going well,” said one of the student representatives.

“We get embarrassed because we can’t do practical things that doctors should be able to perform on patients. The university has even said that they can’t prepare us for the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa) board exam,” he added.

The students said that former Mpumalanga education MEC Reginah Mhaule visited the institution in June last year but “she was shown what she had to see”. They said their concerns have not been resolved.

“This university started English-medium lectures in 2013. They’re not ready and equipped to teach in English. This looks like a waste of time and we would like to be transferred to another institution,” said the representative.

Mpumalanga education spokesperson, Jasper Zwane, did not respond to written questions on this matter over the past three weeks.

City Press has seen a letter that these students’ parents wrote to former Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza in January this year.

The parents said that students were not given transport money from the international airport Moscow and had to use their stipends when they first travelled to Russia last year.

“Students (especially girls) were told to negotiate with taxi drivers and wear relevant outfits to reduce the price. As some of the girls were traveling, the taxi driver was showing them obscene photos and videos …” reads the complaint.

Russia has been attracting students to its 650 state universities because they are comparatively cheaper.

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