23:18 13.02.2019

Donetsk Medical University principal wants to scrap contract with intermediary over scams with foreign students

4 min read

KYIV. Feb 13 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Principal of Kramatorsk-based Donetsk National Medical University (Ukraine) Petro Kondratenko has said he plans to scrap his university's contract with an intermediary company called Ukrainian Education Services (Ukrayinski Osvytni Posluhy).

"The company's debt to the university amounts to UAH 37 million. These are debts starting from 2016, when the international medical university began to function. We appealed to an economic court to terminate the relationship with that firm, terminate the contract and recover the funds that the firm owes," Kondratenko at a press conference at the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Tuesday.

He said that in the summer of 2018 he discovered an "organized group" at the university that included an intermediary firm and university staff. He said the group "was patronized by employees of Ukraine's SBU State Security Service."

Kondratenko said, "This group earned money for illegal migration."

"In 10 months, we issued 1,563 invitations for foreign citizens to come to study, but 243 people came. We could not but be interested in what happened to the rest of the invitations," he said, adding that 95 invitees "were allegedly credited to our university by fake order, and money was taken from them as the fee for education. They were not our students, but Ukraine's State Migration Service issued certificates of temporary residence in Ukraine for a period of five to six years."

Kondratenko said the difference between the tuition fees that the intermediary firm takes and the cost established by the university is $5,000 per year.

"Plus $500 in insurance, $500 for a medical certificate, $500 for food, $500 for registration, $1,000 for accommodation in a hostel. In total, it turns out $8,500 per person. Multiply it all by 1,100 [the number of foreign students] and it works out to around $9.5 million. Plus the discount that the company received, depending on the number of students sent to study... The total amount is almost or more than $10 million, which went into the pockets of certain individuals," the principal said.

He said that since September last year he had notified various officials, including the SBU's main directorate in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the police and the prosecutor's office of Kramatorsk, and the Kropyvnytsky police.

"Almost 20 criminal cases are opened for this company by a court decision, including, under Article 129 of Ukraine's Criminal Code (threat of murder)," he said.

Kondratenko said he had received threats of physical violence and SMS messages, which said if he did not leave his job, he or someone from his family would be killed. The court granted him state protection.

He said the medical university extended the deadline from January 8 to February 7 for foreign students who arrived by invitation to study and who did not pay tuition to pay it, offering them to sign a contract directly with the university.

"Virtually no one has signed.… Out of 1,100 students, 850 did not sign the contract," he said.

The reason for the refusal to sign contracts directly with the university, according to the principal, were threats to students from the dismissed teachers and other persons, who said Kondratenko would soon leave his post.

"It is surprising to me that a Member of Parliament of Ukraine is also involved in this," he said.

Kondratenko said students who had not signed contracts would be expelled from the university, and, according to Ukrainian legislation, would be forced to leave Ukraine.

"We want the university to operate legally and don't want anyone to interfere in personnel policy," the rector said.

Donetsk National Medical University (dnmu.edu.ua) is based in the Ukrainian-controlled town of Kramatorsk and the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol in Donetsk region, as well as in the city of Kropyvnytsky in Kirovohrad region.

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