With no word on visas, Afghan students fear missing UP exams


Still awaiting their visas for India, dozens of Afghan students enrolled at Panjab University (PU) who are currently in their home countries are worried about missing their semester exams, which according to instructions from university, will take place offline.

Students have been waiting for visa approvals for months, but the timeline is still unclear.

The apprehension peaked after a circular was issued this week by the office of the Dean of International Students at PU stating that all students, Indian and international, must sit for the scheduled offline exam from of June.

Notably, the university had previously instructed its departments to expand online teaching to Afghan students following visa issues.

There are over 100 Afghan students enrolled in various university departments, with around 80 students at the University Institute of Applied Management Sciences (UIAMS) and an affiliated college. They have not been able to return to India since the Taliban took over the country last year.

Sahar Noor, 24, a student at UIAMS, expressed her disappointment at not being able to get the visa and return to India.

Another UIAMS student, Ahmad Safa Faisal, said: “We have to accept that visas are not possible in such a short time. We therefore ask the administration to reconsider its decision.“

Abdul Monir Kakar, a representative for Afghan students in Chandigarh, said the Indian embassy ceased operations in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August last year and that left Afghan students with very little opportunities to seek help.

“The students want to come but they don’t have a visa. How can they come to take the exam? he asked, adding that the students were really worried about missing the exam.

He also lobbied for the university to reconsider the decision.

Speaking on the matter, Dean of International Students at PU, Deepti Gupta, said, “We are a student-friendly university and once the majority of students settle in with their exams offline, we will see how many have not could not come and we will make a decision that will not harm anyone’s interests.


    Dar Ovais is a Hindustan Times correspondent based in Chandigarh covering higher education.
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