Explained: Why Indians flock to Ukraine to study medicine

Anke Neustadt

According to the Indian Embassy in Ukraine, 18,000 of a total population of 20,000-odd Indians in Ukraine are students pursuing medicine and engineering courses. These students are also the largest group of the 76,000 international students studying in Ukraine

Representative photo: iStock

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered a massive exodus of residents and immigrants, who are finding alternate routes to escape the conflict zone.

Caught in the crossfire are thousands of Indian students who went to study in the country and now are finding it difficult to get back home with Ukraine shutting down its airspace following Russia’s attack on February 24.

To ensure a safe evacuation of these stranded students, the Indian government has initiated ‘Operation Ganga’ to bring them home through alternate routes via Romania, Poland, Hungary and the Slovak Republic.

But help awaits many who are located far away from the border posts and have no wherewithal to reach there. As per latest reports, so far only 4,000 Indians have been able to get past Ukraine’s borders while 16,000 are still stranded without food, water and basic amenities in bunkers, bomb shelters and metros.

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Even as the present is riddled with chaos and fear, let us understand why scores of Indian students flock the eastern European country in thousands every year:

Largest group of foreign students

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science, 24 per cent of its overseas students are from India.

According to the Indian Embassy in Ukraine, 18,000 of a total population of 20,000-odd Indians in Ukraine are students pursuing medicine and engineering courses. These students are also the largest group of the 76,000 international students studying in Ukraine. Students also come from countries including Morocco, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, China, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and Uzbekistan.

Ukraine colleges – cheaper, viable alternatives to India

Students who don’t get a seat in government medical colleges in India or are unable to afford the steep fees of private medical colleges, find better prospects in Ukrainian medical colleges, getting admissions to which are comparatively easier and cheaper.

While the fee to study in private colleges in India may range between ₹60 lakh and ₹1 crore, pursuing a six-year course in medicine in Ukraine would cost ₹15-₹22 lakh and is affordable for middle class parents.

India also has fewer medical seats, making studying MBBS a far-fetched dream for many aspirants who do not qualify NEET. As many as 1.61 million students registered for NEET in 2021 while the country has a total of 84,000 medical seats.

No entrance exam, global acceptance

There is no mandate to clear any entrance examination to get admitted to medical colleges in Ukraine.

The standard of education is high, with Ukraine ranking fourth in Europe in having the largest number of graduate and post-graduate courses in medicine. The country has almost 33 medical colleges equipped with standard infrastructure.

Almost all the universities are accredited by the World Health Organisation and UNESCO. Medical degrees by these colleges are also recognized by the European Council of Medicine, General Medical Council of the United Kingdom and Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.

Kharkiv National Medical University, located around 480 km from capital Kyiv is one of the most sought-after institutions in the country. (Kharkiv is one of the first places attacked by Russia.)

The medium of instruction in these colleges is English, which makes it easier for Indian students to enroll as they do not have to learn a foreign language.

But, the catch is…

These students are be required to take the National Board of Examinations’ Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) to receive licence to practise medicine in India. While 4,000 students take the test every year, only 700-odd pass it.

Medical colleges in Ukraine are also said to be heavily reliant on theoretical aspects while lacking in providing students with practical exposure.

However, these factors do not deter Indian students from applying to study in Ukraine.

 

Explained: Why Indians flock to Ukraine to study medicine

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