Graduation certificates of about 75 Bhutanese nursing students studying in Karnataka, India are likely to be invalid abroad after the Indian Nursing Council (INC) de-recognised nursing colleges in Karnataka in May this year.

According to Indian media reports, about 257 nursing colleges and some 200,000 students are affected with the INC’s decision to remove nursing colleges in Karnataka from its list of recognised institutes. This means that the certificates of students will not be recognised outside the state of Karnataka. Last December, the Indian government issued two orders stating that approval from the Karnataka State Nursing council (KSNC) and Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) were enough to get the colleges accredited. This is assumed to have triggered the recent decision by the INC.

A fourth year nursing student said in an email interview that there are about 75 students undergoing nursing programme in Bangluru in the state of Karnataka on scholarship as well as on self-finance. “Examinations are nearing and we would like to know how this will affect us,” the student said. “Would we be able to work in Bhutan without INC recognisation?”

Another nursing student Kezang, said, that when the issue arose, they approached their lecturers but could not get any assurance. “After that we talked with our principal who failed to give us any solid explanation regarding the issue.”

She said that the students have signed an informal written agreement with the principal and chairman asking for the return of documents and refund of course fee if the institute, Karnataka College of Nursing in Bangaluru is de-recognised. “If this issue is not solved, it would be the end of our career. We will be unable to work in our own country and abroad.”

The student said that although they are attending their regular classes, they are stressed and losing hope. “We are unable to concentrate on our studies.”

A second year nursing student said they worry about remaining unemployed with the certificates they graduate with. “All our hard work, the time and money we spent would go in vain. We are becoming helpless.”

She said that although the High Court passed a judgment on July 25 stating that INC has no authority to grant recognition to institutions, the issue has not come to an end. “The INC has not backed down and we still remain de-registered. We have been told that we are under RGUHS and the Karnataka State Nursing Council but that serves us no purpose.”

Meanwhile, the registrar with the Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) Sonam Dorji, said, that the ministry is yet to learn of the issue.

He said that the system they have been following is that the Council accepts nurses who come from the institutes registered with the Medical Council of India and INC.

According to him, nurses who come from other institutes have to do a competency exam and would be send on attachments to assess if they have practical skills, before they are recruited.

The director of Department of Adult and Higher Education Kesang Choden Dorji said that they have learnt of the issue recently and are working on understanding the situation.

Education secretary Karma Yeshey said that the ministry is working towards a comprehensive understanding of the situation and will consult the BMHC.

Karma Cheki