What drives Indians in Ukraine: Affordable education, the prospect of a better life

The prohibitive cost of medical education, especially in the private sector, is what drives Indians to pursue MBBS in Ukraine, says doctor who graduated in country currently facing onslaught of Russian invasion .

Dr Sukhmandeep Singh Dhillon, a Punjab resident who returned to India in 2020 after completing his MBBS in Ukraine, sought to silence critics who raised questions about Indians traveling to the country to pursue medical studies .

“In Ukraine, the fee for those pursuing MBBS is Rs 2.5 lakh – Rs 3 lakh per year. In India, private colleges charge more than five times that amount. a 6-year course in Ukraine and Europe, degree holders need to pass 2-3 exams to start working,” says Dhillon who had been to Ukraine in 2014.

To gain admission into an MBBS course in Ukraine, an Indian student only needs to qualify as NEET. “After landing there, a student has to appear for a written test and depending on the rank obtained, is admitted to medical colleges in different parts of the country. I studied at Kharkiv National Medical University, which is over 200 years old,” said Dhillon, who is from Tarn Taran. After returning to India, he was looking to pursue post-graduation (MD) studies in the United States, but as farmers began to agitate against the now-revealed central agricultural laws, he decided to stay on the border of Tikri in Delhi and work at the New Hospital set up by Jersey-based cardiologist Dr. Swaimaan Singh. Dhillon also contested the February 20 elections for the Punjab Assembly as Tarn Taran’s SSM candidate.

Dhillon remembers that Russian students also came to Ukraine for their studies. Two of his juniors, Suchet Kumar from Jalandhar and Navkiran Singh from Nakodar, are among the hundreds of Indian students taking refuge in an underground metro station in Kharkiv. “I spoke to them and I want them to come home safely.”

Dhillon said apart from affordable education, even the cost of living is not too high in Ukraine. “A lot of people ask why Indian students went to study abroad. Why would anyone go if they got an affordable education and a better life in India,” he asked.

“Perhaps the local authorities were unaware that things were going to escalate so quickly. I wish they were at least more serious with international students. Now we can only pray for things to calm down soon and for peace to prevail,” he added.

Helen D. Jessen