The reporters of “Donetsk Dialog” on Donbas Public TV met a migrant student from Donetsk. The girl recollected the time when she was finishing her studies during the so-called “Russian spring” and mentioned the challenges that prevented her from receiving her education at the new place of residence.
Yulia was studying on the government-funded course at the Donetsk University. The girl is saying she was happy with her choice since she was going to work as a software developer. But in 2014, she got deprived of her home and the ability to study at the university of her choice.
“It was the end of the academic year, people were scared, they were leaving their homes. At that moment, for no clear reason, the militia started moving in to the student dormitory. Some students were scared to the point of not daring to pick their stuff from the rooms. I couldn’t imagine it would be possible to carry a gun freely in Donetsk or even talk about it. I left for Odessa, chose the university and profession I wanted to acquire. I was not sure whether I could make it to the government-funded course, I was hard pressed for money and my mom stayed in Donetsk region. I decided to start work and wait for another year. I was hoping to the last that the war would stop. I wanted to go on with my studies, to graduate from the university and find a job. I cannot afford to study to the extent required by the state. I have checked out the prices of various universities – they all charge extortionate amounts. I don’t want to keep wandering from one city to another, I like it here in Odessa, I consider this city my second home as I lost my real home,” – the displaced person says.
Yulia says that she regrets losing her scholarship, as applying for a new one in a new city and on the regular terms it is both expensive and risky, yet she wouldn’t like to waste her time on a dubious institution.
“If a student wishes to resume their studies, they have a right to apply for being restored to the course they left,” – says Yelena Makarenko, Deputy Head of the Directorate of General Education of the Donetsk Regional Civil-Military Administration.
For the sake of continuing her studies, the girl is even willing to combine learning with work, but inexperienced young people are not exactly popular with employers.
“I am not hunting for a prestigious diploma. I just want to get some knowledge. I have compared various universities and made a conclusion that it is cheaper to study in Odessa. The average tuition fee is 25 thousand for a 4-year course. I couldn’t find a job by profession, I did not manage to work as a programmer as this industry is not as much advanced in Odessa as it is in Kiev. Employers look for the experience in their employees, the very skills that I was supposed to acquire at the university. I am not entitled to any benefits from the state whatsoever, because I was paid with cash, which in the eyes of the government means I was officially unemployed. I can’t find a job where I could apply my professional skills, I could only do a low-paid, unofficial job,” – says Yulia.
The girl says that her family want her to come back to her home city. However, she is positive that Donetsk will never be the same again, so she is trying to establish a new home in a new place.
“Mom is urging me to come back home, but I can’t see some people who used to live there. Many of them left, like I did, and they have no intention to come back. I will keep going without relying on any help from the government. The way life is going suggests that you can only count on yourself. People have grown accustomed to the war, but I would not be able to put up with the war and keep living under bullets,” – the displaced person told us.
Yulia has a question to lawyers and public officials.
“Do I have a right to a second education since I am not succeeding with the first one? Could there be any discounts or concessions?” – Yulia wonders.
Tatiana Ivanova, a human rights activist, points out, “The second education does not make provisions for any privileges. As far as I understand, Yulia managed to get her bachelor degree in Donetsk. She might want to try and apply for the specialist course on a government-funded basis. There are currently many public organizations which are involved in solving IDPs’ problems free of charge, so it could be a great idea to turn to them.”
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