The recent national exams conducted to integrate Moroccan students who returned from Ukraine into the country’s private medical, dental and pharmacy schools have failed to resolve the crisis of how to help these students continue their educations at home.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation set up the exams as a solution for students who were forced to abandon studies in Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February.
More than 800 students registered to take the exams, which were conducted in French late last month. But only 393 students actually sat for the exams, and only 123 of them passed, a ministry source told Al-Fanar Media.
According to results published online, 34 medical students, 79 dentistry students, and 10 pharmacy students passed the exams.
Taking a placement exam and enrolling in a private university is the only option the ministry has offered these students so far.
Returning students and their parents, however, have repeatedly held protests calling on the ministry to allow them to continue their education at public universities instead.
“The reason for this low success percentage is not only due to conducting the exam in French, but also to the limited seats available in private universities.”Chbani Idrissi Mohamed, a member of the Coordination of Moroccan Students in Ukraine
Chbani Idrissi Mohamed, a member of the Coordination of Moroccan Students in Ukraine, says that the low percentage of candidates who passed the exams suggests the tests were intended to exclude students, rather than to assess their abilities. “The reason for this low success percentage is not only due to conducting the exam in French,” he added, “but also to the limited seats available in private universities.”
High Tuition Fees
Mohamed explained that even those who passed the exams will face high tuition fees in private universities, which may hit more than $13,000 annually. He also said that the majority of returning students did not register for the exams in the first place, and chose to continue studying at universities in Ukraine via distance education.
Ousama Miftah, a pharmacy student at Kharkiv National Medical University, passed the exam in Morocco, but he said the exam was not accessible to everyone. “I managed to pass the exam after being well prepared for it,” he told Al-Fanar Media. “I have studied Morocco’s university curricula.”
Miftah added that he was surprised by the request of a private university in Morocco to submit the original documents for registration, since everyone knows that these documents are still at Ukrainian universities and cannot be obtained at the moment because of the war. He also denounced the demand of private universities for students to pay $150 to sit for the exams, even though the exams were rganized by the higher education ministry.
A source at the ministry rejected the idea that conducting the exams in French was the reason behind the high failurerate.
“These students studied in French until they finished high school. They knew they would have to study in French if they joined Moroccan universities,”said the source, who asked not to be identified. “The ministry fulfilled its obligations and what was agreed upon to find solutions for students. It did everything possible to solve the problem.”
“It seemed, from the beginning, that the ministry’s proposal was inappropriate. English was the language of instruction at my institution, and I must continue like that. If I go back to studying in French, I will waste years of effort.”Manal Al-Houssi, a Moroccan studying dentistry in Ukraine via distance education
The same source said the ministry had provided innovative solutions to address the crisis, a step ahead of the situation of neighbouring countries.
Regarding some private universities’ requests for students to submit original documents for enrollment, he said that the ministry would get in touch with Ukrainian universities to provide students with the necessary documents.
The Distance Education Option
Hassan Lawan, the father of a student who returned from Ukraine, complained about the lack of clarity on the steps taken by the ministry since the beginning of the crisis.
“Some local media accused the students of incompetence due to failing the integration exams,” he said. “This has affected the mental health of students who have not yet recovered from the psychological trauma of the Ukrainian war.”
Manal Al-Houssi, a dentistry student at Dnipro State Medical University, said she decided to go for the distance education option with her university in Ukraine. “It seemed, from the beginning, that the ministry’s proposal was inappropriate,” she told Al-Fanar Media. “English was the language of instruction at my institution, and I must continue like that. If I go back to studying in French, I will waste years of effort.”
Obstacles for Engineering Students
Students in other disciplines, such as engineering, face fewer official barriers to joining universities, after the ministry exempted them from the conditions imposed on medical students returning from Ukraine.
But they are not finding a warm welcome. Representatives of national university students and union members have protested their direct admission into Morocco’s public universities.
In a statement, the National Syndicate of Moroccan Engineers said it was sympathetic to the exceptional circumstances experienced by students returning from Ukraine and called on the ministry to come up with financially appropriate solutions for them. But it said their admission to Moroccan faculties of engineering should be based on passing competitive exams, similar to those for students of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.
While engineering students attributed their rejection to overcrowded public educational institutions, the union attributed its demand to “respecting the principle of equal opportunity in access to public engineering schools” and “maintaining the quality of engineering training.”
- Moroccan Medical Students Returning from Ukraine Can Study at Private Universities Only
- Moroccan Students Returning from Ukraine Have Problems Continuing Their Education