Some Jamaican students in Ukraine reject help from gov't to return due to financial concerns

Cejay McCalla
Jamaican students studying in Ukraine say they have not accepted the help offered by the Andrew Holness administration because doing so could mean they would be unable to afford to continue their education. 
The students are in a precarious position because Ukraine appears to be on the brink of war as tensions with its neighbour, Russia, escalate.
Radio Jamaica News spoke with one of the students on Wednesday afternoon.
Cejay McCalla, who is a third year medical student in Kharkiv, said the options presented by the government to students wishing to leave Ukraine are not workable. 
"We have to first take out loans to take the flights that they've offered...and then find tuition to pay these medical schools. We simply don't have it. It defeats the purpose of studying in Ukraine in the first place. The reason why we came to Ukraine is because we couldn't afford the tuitions offered by medical schools in and around the Caribbean," he explained.  
According to Mr. McCalla, the government has said the fees to complete their medical studies in Jamaica could be discounted. But even if the fees are reduced, he said the students could not afford them.
"After doing my research, the tuition there's about US$23,000. They would give us a discount. I reckon it would be in the range of maybe $18- or $19,000. Here in Ukraine, we're paying US$3500 for tuition. At the University of the West Indies, the tuition there's about US$28,000. After being subsidised by the government, it's about $5800. If we leave and go to Jamaica, we would have to pay something in the range of about $20,000. That's a huge jump for our parents."  
The medical student said persons in his city are doubtful a war will materialise.
"There's a calm ambience about my city. The locals here don't seem to be worried at all, and the majority actually don't believe like a full-out war will happen. Despite this, there’s still a threat and I am indeed concerned," he told Radio Jamaica News.  
Eight Jamaican students have so far left Ukraine as the threat of conflict with Russia intensifies.
An additional five students will travel from Ukraine this week.
In an update on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said the seven students who had requested assistance from the government to leave Ukraine, have decided against returning to Jamaica.

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