Why Ukraine remains a favorite education destination for Indian medical students

As the war between Russian and Ukrainian forces escalates, around 14,000 Indians, including a significant number of students, are believed to still be stranded in the war-torn country. However, as the first sign of impending war loomed near February 15, around 4,000 Indians were evacuated through Romania and returned home.

AFP

Even though government officials have been quoted in the media as saying that around 4,000 Indian students have returned to India, it is unclear how many students have yet to be evacuated. While the present is fraught with chaos and despair, let us understand what attracts thousands of Indian students to Ukraine each year, what are the benefits of studying in Ukraine and what is happening to them right now.

Foreign students in Ukraine

According to the website of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, there are more than 20,000 Indian nationals in Ukraine, of which around 18,000 are students. They are the largest group of international students in Ukraine, accounting for around 24% of the country’s 76,000 international students. Students also come from countries such as China, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Nigeria, Turkey, Israel and Uzbekistan.

indian students ukraine
AFP

According to reports, around 4,000 Indians have been able to leave Ukraine since the fighting began, while 16,000 remain stranded.

Why do Indian students go to study in Ukraine?

Reports claim that the majority of Indian students in Ukraine are studying medicine. Ukraine has the fourth largest number of higher and postgraduate specializations in the field of medicine in Europe. Some of the state-run universities in Ukraine are well known for providing high quality education, and Indian parents are believed to prefer sending their children to these institutions rather than paying high fees to enroll in medical school. private lesser known in India.

Sumy Ukraine Indian students
Photo shared by students

While government medical universities are affordable for aspirants, private medical institutions charge huge fees. According to Quartz India, Ukrainian medical colleges are a boon for students who cannot secure places in government institutes or afford the high prices charged by private institutions in India. Ukrainian universities are cheaper – MBBS costs in Ukraine range from $3,500 to $5,000 per year (i.e. Rs 2.65 lakh to Rs 3.8 lakh) which is affordable for Indian students.

In a private medical school in India, an Indian student can expect to pay between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. By comparison, a student pursuing a six-year medical degree in Ukraine will only have to pay a fraction of that amount. Apart from low tuition fees, Ukraine offers various benefits such as cheap food and accommodation in Ukraine.

indian students ukraine
Reuters

The National Medical Commission reports that there are 605 medical colleges in India, with a total of 90,825 MBBS places available each year. While this figure seems large, it pales in comparison to the 1.6 million applicants who attempted the National Cumulative Entrance Test for Eligibility (NEET) for MBBS admissions in 2021.

This situation highlights that in India, only one out of 16 aspirants is enrolled in a medical school. With such intense competition, many students are unable to pass the exam or end up with poor grades. This deprives students of admission to prestigious colleges, especially those run by the government. This fact adds another reason why there are no entrance tests to pass for admission into medical schools in Ukraine. Students only need to pass the NEET exam in India to gain admission into Ukrainian colleges.

But the catch is that these institutions are accredited by the World Health Organization, UNESCO and several other European countries. These students can also return to India to work as interns, take the NEXT qualification test (formerly known as the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination) and practice medicine in the country.

What is their current state?

Ukrainian students say that since Russia began its military operations, they have been stuck without any help. Several of them have made desperate pleas for the government to help them return safely, while others have taken refuge in metro stations, which can be used as bomb shelters.

Indian Couple Ukraine
Reuters

Many of them have taken to their social networks and shared visuals shelters like underground metro stations and basements amid airstrikes and missile attacks by Russian forces.

Amidst this conflict, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his post-budget session of the Ministry of Health on February 27, urged private actors to facilitate the medical education system by increasing the number of medical places in order to that students do not have to leave the country. pursue medicine.

Central government response

The government is working to organize evacuation flights from neighboring countries for Indians trapped in Ukraine. Teams are on their way to Ukraine’s borders with Hungary and Poland in hopes of bringing back its citizens.

31 evacuation flights would be operated to neighboring countries of Ukraine as part of “Operation Ganga”, to bring back Indian students stranded in Ukraine. The flights will be operated by Air India, Air India Express, SpiceJet, Indigo and the Indian Air Force under the “Operation Ganga” mission. As of March 2, a total of 21 flights have been operated from Bucharest, Romania, and four from Budapest, Hungary.

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Helen D. Jessen